Tracking Accountability

accountability-jokeAs a student voter, you’ve been badgered for signatures, had your Facebook timeline blanketed by words of endorsement, and at this point you’re just looking forward to a 4á7 where political announcements no longer hinder your drinking ability. While these unwanted side-effects may plague election season, student government improves student life within Bronfman and continues to enhance our faculty’s representation outside McGill.

Unfortunately, the repeatedly weak attendance to the electoral debates demonstrates the lack of student interest and involvement in the whole electoral process. This situation ultimately opens the door to complacency and reduces pressure on candidates to perform. Students should play a more active role in the electoral process by becoming knowledgeable about their faculty and its representatives, and by raising their concerns directly to those elected. This article arms you with the knowledge you need to keep student government accountable, effective, and working for you.

Stay informed

Make sure elected officials are delivering on their promises by being as informed as possible about your faculty, a task that is much easier than it sounds. For instance, the MUS website has access to information on council policy, the new constitution, and meeting minutes. I understand that you may rather spend an hour watching the latest episode of House of Cards over reading the MUS constitution, but the added understanding of the MUS framework will help you to determine what constitutes worthwhile policy or not. Frank would approve.

Another useful way to get more connected is to read campus publications. They follow various faculties’ culture and events, and offers a mouthpiece to students wishing to voice their opinions and concerns. For the real book-worms out there, try reading several different McGill publications to gain greater insight into where your faculty fits-in within the wider McGill community. Knowing your faculty’s political framework allows you to form a more informed opinion on policy adjustment and how to become involved in the faculty’s direction moving forward. For instance, all executive meetings are open to any MUS member, and the VPs hold office hours on the second floor to ensure they are a primary point of contact for students.

Hold your candidates accountable

In order to keep the elected accountable, you must understand what they promise to deliver. While running, each candidate submits a three point platform from which the electorate bases their vote. Traditionally, the election process itself is very public and the most cursory Facebook search would reveal any official’s platform. For the most consolidated information base on the MUS, EUS and SSMU elections; however, visit The Bull & Bear Elections 2014 Coverage online to find full candidate profiles, including their qualifications and a breakdown of their platform, along with recorded debates.

Engage with your executives

Beyond conducting your own research, the single best way to find out information is to ask the candidates yourself. Believe it or not, elected student officials are just that—students who enjoy unwinding at 4á7 every bit as much as you do and who are more than willing to discuss issues that affect those who elected them. It is straight from the officials that you are likely to find the most up-to-date and relevant information. For example, if you have concerns over the Desautels grading policy, the VP Academic can discuss that with you and has the power to work closely with professors and Career Services to make necessary changes.

Each VP and Board member holds a specific position ranging from Engagement to Corporate Relations. The MUS website profiles each position and its current holder, so that you can be sure which executive to approach should you have questions pertaining to their portfolio. As always, never be shy to ask questions. Members of the council were elected or appointed because they demonstrated a commitment to their faculty and should continue to demonstrate that zeal when presented with a student’s concern.

You don’t have to become the president of your faculty to make a difference. Improve Bronfman by familiarizing yourself with its governance, engaging executives, and holding them accountable for their promises. Transparency and accountability are touted in almost every electoral platform, and all too often they simply remain buzzwords. Now it is up to you, the students, to transform those words into action.