By Kathryn Kirby
Most Dawson students have probably already heard some type of rumor or juicy gossip regarding the Dawson Student Union. As an active member of the Dawson Improv Club, I have heard of some of the issues that the club faced with the DSU last year. There was a general dissatisfaction coming from some clubs regarding the club services that were provided by the DSU. I felt that further investigation was needed to understand what problems the DSU was having with clubs, what their reasons were, and what improvements have been made this semester.
Romy Surprenant, second-year student and treasurer of the Improv Club, discusses the club’s budget and financial needs for the year with the DSU. Last year, Surprenant got rubbed the wrong way by an incident with the DSU regarding the improv tournament. The Improv Club told the DSU in advance that they needed classrooms: three rooms to hold rounds in simultaneously, each of those rooms requiring microphones and sound systems. “When we got there in the morning,” Surprenant says, “we couldn’t find any DSU representatives. The security was not advised that we needed those rooms and there were double bookings. It resulted in us running around trying to find access to rooms, instead of getting the rooms that we asked for. It was such a stressful moment that we didn’t need.”
Other executive members have had problems with the Union. Myriam Glenza is a second-year student, as well as the founder and president of the Improv Club. One of the main issues Glenza faced when she first started the club was the poor communication she received from the director of clubs and services at the time. Given that she didn’t know how to start a club and where to find the information to do so, Glenza had many unanswered questions. The director wouldn’t respond to her emails and was always unavailable. He later resigned, due to facing complaints from multiple clubs.
Since Glenza could not count on the DSU for help, she had to get it elsewhere. She decided to reach out to Billy Jo Poirier, the technician in activities here at Dawson. “To be honest, I shouldn’t say this, but we dealt more with Billy Jo than the DSU,” Glenza admits. She would communicate with her more than with the DSU, because she would get more information from her. It was also quicker for Glenza to plan improv matches and bake sales for fundraising with Billy Jo’s help.
Despite past communication problems with the DSU, this year is already off to a different start, and there are noticeable changes. Although they recently resigned, Malcolm’s short-lived reign as director of clubs and services definitely helped things run more smoothly.
Despite past communication problems with the DSU, this year is already off to a different start, and there are noticeable changes. Although they recently resigned, Malcolm’s short-lived reign as director of clubs and services definitely helped things run more smoothly. They would respond to emails on time, were always available to answer questions, and maintained close relationships with club members (which they have kept even after their resignation).
Malcolm is a second-year student at Dawson. Last year, they would hang out in different clubs and noticed the issues that clubs were facing. They then took action and were elected. Malcolm viewed the DSU in a more negative light due to what they were seeing from the outside: the problems that the clubs were having. As they took on the new position, they realised how difficult the job really is. They also understood why things were so bad last year with the DSU. “A lot of people in the DSU ended up stepping down. The problem was that the people who were doing their job did stick around, but they then had to pick up a nine person job using three people,” Malcolm explains. “In hindsight, at the time, I felt like we were being neglected, but looking back, you realise like Hey! People are really busy and you can’t always do everything at the same time.”
Regardless of everything that the club spaces faced with the DSU in the past, the reasons behind the issues are quite valid. The DSU was very short on staff and were doing the best they could given the conditions. All the blame cannot be placed on them for being disorganised and unhelpful, given that they didn’t even have enough people to run their own organization, let alone other clubs. It is crucial to remember that the DSU consists of students, just as the clubs do. They are busy with school, jobs, sports, and their personal life; it’s normal that everything isn’t perfect. With that being said, there are always two sides to each story and it’s important to hear both of them.