In the past, members of the University Studentsí Council Board of Directors had to take a course during their term in office.
The idea behind this requirement was to keep board members connected to students.
But does having board members attend a class every week and write an exam or two connect them to average students?
Board members were students before they were elected to their position. They will still have a strong concept of student life having so recently experienced it.
USC general council elects board members and average students elect those voting. Surely this system would prevent someone completely disconnected from student life from getting into a board position.
There is an argument to be made a mandatory class forces the board to interact with students, especially students who do not normally get involved in student government.
The USC is often seen as a corporate entity that struggles to maintain a student-first focus. Even as a symbolic gesture, taking a course is a tangible example of board members staying a part of student culture.
However, USC vice-presidents are busy people. They have a full schedule and need to devote their time to fulfill their mandate, as they were elected to do.
Vice-presidents have commissioners in various portfolios and other volunteers who are full-time students. These individuals can relay information on day-to-day student concerns back to their leaders.
As well, board members attend dozens of events as part of their job where they can interact with students.
Taking a course is not necessarily the most effective way of connecting with students. A board member could pick a seminar course with only 20 people, put their time in every week and never take anything from the experience.
USC VPs have a responsibility to stay in touch with average students in order to effectively run council, but taking a class is not the only one way to achieve this.
Joining a club would be just as effective, or perhaps a couple of intramural teams. Sitting in a complaints booth in the middle of the University Community Centre or in the Natural Science Centre could also expose VPs to students.
What about eating dinner in a residence cafeteria, or being in the popular bar or at Rick McGhie now and then?
If a board member is going to take a class, why not take Psychology or History 020 with hundreds of students to talk with? Maybe auditing a large class here and there would spread their interaction around a little more.
There are a number of options available to board members to keep their ear to the ground and interact with students.
Signing up for an academic course is certainly one of these options. However, it should be up to each USC VP to decide how best to get their job done and connect with students.