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Student view

MUN students, meet your union

As the last semester of my undergraduate degree comes to a close, I’ve been thinking about tips and advice on university life that I could offer to friends and classmates who won’t be graduating this year.

Of course, there are some obvious ones: bring back your library books on time, don’t spend ALL your money on Booster Juice, try to stay awake in class as often as possible – but recently, I’ve come to realize the importance of MUNSU, the undergraduate students’ union here at Memorial, and how essential they are to the daily lives of students across campus.

MUNSU is holding its annual general elections this week, with positions from executive director of external affairs to LGBT representative and dozens more in between being competed for by students wanting to get active in campus politics. And just by taking a look at their campaigns – Facebook groups, posters galore, debates, residence tours – you can see that these people are not just in it to add another bullet point to their resumes.

Our university’s undergraduate population is fortunate enough to have peers who are ready and willing to tackle the big issues facing us in the year ahead: the elimination of interest on student loans, increasing sustainability on campus, and ensuring equal payment for equal work terms are just a few among them. And yet, so many MUN students not only won’t vote in the election, but aren’t even aware of MUNSU and what it does.

I’ll admit – my feelings about our very own students’ union have been mixed over the past four years I’ve spent here at Memorial.

The main thing that can be so irksome to me (and I have a feeling many would agree) is the often-immature ruthlessness of student politics. Far too often, the activities of the union degrade into some quasi-popularity contest where the policies and platforms candidates campaigned on seem to go out the window.

That said, however, I have come to make metaphorical amends with this union that represents us, and all it took was a little learning.

The legislation of this province states that all undergraduate students at Memorial University be members of MUNSU. With that legislation not about to change anytime soon, and union fees continuing to come out of your bank accounts each semester, isn’t is just easier to take advantage of the services being in the union offers you as a student? The way I see it, many of the people who spend so much time arguing that MUNSU is a useless organization could better spend their days figuring out how to get their money’s worth from the union, or better yet, run for a position on the union itself and change things from the inside.

From legal aid and academic appeals to funding opportunities and insurance, the students’ union is a valuable resource for any student on campus. They are there for you to turn to when your needs are not being adequately met by administrative channels within the university, and offer the benefit of being run fully by students wanting to go out of their way to help their peers. The union’s connection to the Canadian Federation of Students lets your voice be heard along with the hundreds of thousands of university students across the country, linking us and Memorial with campuses from coast to coast for a truly Canadian university experience.

Whether you hate it or love it, MUNSU is here to stay, and with just a little time spent learning about it, it’s quite likely that you may find a service or campaign created by the union that can better your life at the university. And after you learn, vote and keep voting – the only way to make any elected body more representative of its members is to engage in some old-fashioned democracy and vote. Between elections, continue to lobby MUNSU to get what you want – the union is our union, after all.