Students study for exams at the John E. Robbins Library at Brandon University earlier this week. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Bailey McCannell and Brenna Leonard are seen from above as they study for a psych nursing exam at the John E. Robbins Library at Brandon University earlier this week. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
Brandon’s college and university student unions seem to be struggling to get their message out.
Student attendance at various events and general meetings has been dwindling for a while, according to Brandon University Students’ Union vice-president external Jenna Clinton.
"We noticed that students kind of come to school for class and then go home," Clinton said. "It’s not that they don’t care, it’s just that they don’t know."
Not all students are aware of what BUSU does, Clinton believes, and thinking of new ways to interact with them outside the realm of social media has become a challenge.
"We try to get the message out there, but it’s hard to get students’ attention," she said. "Students don’t always participate, but when they do it’s amazing."
Jenna Noordenbos, a third-year BU student and president of the Varsity Christian Fellowship club, admits she’s unable to attend every event on campus and some students don’t even know who the BUSU president is. Part of the problem, she added, could be a lack of face-to-face communication between student union members and the student body.
"I don’t think a lot of students actually understand how much BUSU is there for us. They don’t understand all that BUSU has to offer."
Other commitments, studying for exams and working on assignments could be reasons why attendance is low this time of year, she said.
BUSU’s most successful event, in terms of both attendance and revenue, was September’s Rock the Block. At least 3,000 people crowded Rosser Avenue for this year’s outdoor concert, which drew in nearly $20,000 in revenue. But not every event or meeting has been a success.
Having free pizza on hand for students at BUSU’s annual general meeting last month didn’t help reach quorum. The general meeting gives BUSU members a chance to hear from students and discuss events. BUSU requires 50 students to attend the meeting in order to make certain changes or decisions. Nearly 30 students attended.
Changing outdated student union bylaws could help BUSU run more effectively, Clinton said.
And it’s not just BUSU struggling to get students attention — Assiniboine Community College Students’ Association president Tylor Johnson said they’re also seeing a decline in attendance at their events.
Most of ACC’s events are held during lunch hour and Thursday evenings, he said.
"We’re not quite sure if it’s an issue of maybe council not speaking to our events as much as they should be," Johnson said.
Besides organizing events, a student union acts as an advocate for students through academic or disciplinary appeal processes, runs a food bank for students and works to enhance student life on campus, among other things.
Johnson said it’s important that student association members act as their own promoters.
"At the end of the day, the students’ association is a business and anytime that you can get your name out either into the business community or into the student body, it’s always a positive marketing tool for you."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition December 12, 2013