I am not a public relations guru. But I believe that the voter turnout at last years election shows that not everyone is united. The tone of the election showed that not everyone is happy with the way things have been going with UTMSU either. For the UTMSU to be successful this year, these are topics UTMSU should improve upon.
#1 Stop Looking to the Past for success.The year is 2010 we cannot be having presentations about successes over 4 years old. Of course they are great achievements for the student movement, but it is really sad when you go to your friends house and they have their grade 8 diploma up on their wall and show it to you with pride. Are their no more recent successes of the union or are we to always remember the U-Pass with teary eyes, and how united we were when we recieved it?
#2 Change the Rhetoric. At the commission meeting I was shocked when one of the first slides was titled “Whose Campus”with the picture of Vice-President and Principal, Professor Deep Saini beside him the words “Our Campus”. Apparently being united means in opposition. This sort of language implies an us vs them mentality, and as such does not help negotiations. Stop fighting and start working together. Stop raising awareness and producing results. Stop shouting at buildings and start sitting down at the table.
#3 Focus on the good. We are all students. We all have things we are good at. The same with the UTMSU. One of the things UTMSU does well is the services they provide to the students. Cheap tickets, Food Bank, Pub Nights. Take these services and improve everything about them. This is the sort of thing that people like, and it is hard for people to deny. Aim to improve the everyday student’s life first before trying to improve the world.
#4 Listen to your members. At the last commission meeting we spent over an hour introducing ourselves and listening to the union talk about the unions accomplishments. Before the members were even able to speak about half of them left, due to other commitments and pure boredom. Those that stayed were split into smaller groups and reported back to the whole after 30 minutes. This is not a suitable way to gather input for an organization with a million dollar budget. (yes more then $1,000,000). Instead of bragging, UTMSU should put out surveys constantly, asking for ideas, input, criticism, satisfaction ect. Find out about what your members want
#5 Advertise properly. The work of the union is under advertised but crucial to the student body. Getting student input in meetings is important as well. But when the Board of Directors doesn’t even know when the meetings are taking place, how will the average student? If people don’t know about services how will they use them? This involves an attitude shift from “Look what we did” to “Look what we can do”. There are amazing ways to utilize skills on campus to promote events. Facebook is no longer sufficient. People just delete messages, instead of reading them because they receive 14 messages a day from UTMSU. Students should know when meetings are happening more then 3 days in advance. But services and campaigns need to be better advertised as well. There are hundreds of options, that don’t involve interrupting classes, spamming or soliciting people that don’t care.