Capilano Student Union celebrates 50 years Series # 4


Former executive members reflect on their time at CSU, how it has changed and what they hope for its future

Bridget Stringer-Holden (her) // Editor-in-chief
Mikaela Johnson // Illustrator

Cherian Itty (he / him) was representative of the Board of Governors (BoG) at the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) in 2006, where he attended board meetings and was involved in making CSU decision – even on non-BoG issues like budget approval or social justice issues.

At the time, CSU was still part of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) – a federation of student unions across the country – and was trying to form an international student committee, which was important at the time.

Although they were one of the 31 founding members, allegations of internal politics and corruption against CFS leaders prompted CSU, as well as the founding member student association of Simon Fraser University (SFU), to talk about leaving CFS because it was not being managed properly. “We were able to pull out in 2007-08, I think,” Itty said. “They made the defense very difficult, but we managed to do it.”

At CSU, Itty noted a good relationship between the vice-presidents hired (the executive) and the rest of the board. “We could see that some of the other student unions – which we met through CFS – didn’t have that kind of support,” he said, noting that in other student unions, “students were basically getting Frames orders so to speak.

At that time, CSU was not equipped to integrate international students into its culture and structures, which was a bit of a challenge for him personally. “Personally, I think the biggest challenge was the Canadian civic and political landscape. I was an international student so everything was new to me, ”he said. “It was a great learning experience – it’s very different from what it was, say in India.”

He also found that there were turnover issues, which meant that the students were very new to the world of student politics. “I think this remains an ongoing problem,” he said, “by the time the students are ready to run the executive, they move on.” However, during his tenure Itty explained that CSU does its best to put in place structures so that new students – in their first or last year – can come in and be able to lead the executives, as opposed to the other way. about.

Other memorable initiatives during his tenure included preparing for the U-Pass and attempting to switch to compostable food packaging, as well as ongoing discussions about forming a student union and attempting to revamp the club structure. on the campus.

He stressed the importance of having a seat at the table with whatever the university was working on, something he recently addressed from the other side as Chairman of the BoG for the past two years. As a student he had to fight for a seat at the table when discussions about compostable food packaging arose, even though it was one of the main causes of waste generation on campus. . Then, once seated at the table, there was the obstacle of being taken seriously by the BoG and the Senate. “I hope it’s a lot different now, but it was important back then,” he recalls.

During his tenure as Chairman of the BoG, he did his best to ensure that student representatives had a space to share their thoughts. While staff and faculty may have a slight difference of opinion, students often bring these unexpected types of questions and ideas, which are beneficial to the university.

Thinking back to his student days, he realized he was hitting way above his weight class. “Without really knowing exactly what was going on, I seemed to have opinions, positions and questions,” he said. “But, in hindsight, that’s the way to do it.”

He knows some students fear being seen as too naive, but hopes that doesn’t hold them back because if they don’t ask, no one else likely will. “Ask embarrassing and unsettling questions,” he advises. “We have little time to sit, in Council or in the Senate – there are no ‘bad’ questions or ‘bad’ opinions.

Going forward, Itty hopes that CSU continues to advocate for housing and public transportation, but also thinks big in terms of on-campus offerings so that they can become a larger part of the college experience. . “There is a large space that CSU badly needs, I hope it can find ways to continue to do this and enrich the student experience on campus, whether through accommodation, food. and drinks or events, ”he says, suggesting a student pub across the hotel management program graduates. “I mean, starting a pub is just a small example, there are so many other ways to get ahead,” he notes, excited to see where CSU is going.

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