Time to fix TRUSU’s gender imbalance

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

For those following student politics, the past year has been great for taking action to ensure underrepresented groups like the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, queer and questioning) community and graduate students have a voice at the table.

But there’s one group that’s underrepresented in TRUSU’s halls of power – yet that group is the majority on campus.

Approximately 55 per cent of the on-campus population is women. Yet only 27 per cent of TRUSU’s elected council – three out of 11 positions – is female. When one looks at the executive, the top four positions of the students union, the number of women becomes zero.

The numbers are similar for student representatives on the senate and board of governors. On the senate, a woman holds only one of the four positions. On the board, the number is once again zero.

There is a way to solve this problem. On Monday, the two-week nomination period to run for a position on the students union in March 25 and 26’s election began.

It goes without saying that if there are going to be more women representatives on TRUSU council more women have to run.

(As an aside, hopefully more people run period – last year’s election only saw one person run for each position.)

Why should there be more women active in student politics? There are some issues that aren’t as noticeable or important to somebody that doesn’t belong in a certain group simply because they don’t have the same types of experiences.

For instance, as a young Caucasian male, I have little fear of walking down a Kamloops street after dark. Yet quite a few different women have told me that they do experience that fear.

I think the same type of thing can happen in student politics. There could be entire issues that aren’t being addressed in the proper manner not out of malice, but because the council as it is currently composed simply just doesn’t think about them.

Looking at students unions at other B.C. public universities shows that it’s possible to do better. We are doing way better than the B.C. Institute of Technology Student Association, where there’s only one woman on an 11-member council. At most of the other students unions where information was available, the percentage of women ranged from 20 to 40 per cent.

However, the students unions of the University of Victoria, University of Northern B.C., Capilano University and Vancouver Island University have more than 55 per cent women.

That’s why I’m hoping to see more women run in these elections – and see six or seven of them win on TRUSU’s expanded 13-member council.