Willard George Pybus discusses the history of the Students' Union Building project and his personal experiences connected with the project. He was one of the key people involved in getting the first Students' Union Building built and served as both Director of the Students' Union Building and Chairman of the Students' Union Building Advisory Board.
The official, single voice that all 26,000 undergraduate students have is the Students' Union (SU). The Students' Union and its elected Executive and Students' Council manage the $9 million budget, host educational and entertainment events, run the Students' Union Building (SUB), and operate business units.
The Students' Union was founded during the University's first session in 1908 and is a financially and politically independent corporation under the Post-Secondary Learning Act. Its legal name is the Council of the Students' Association.
The body responsible for the policy and financial matters of the Students' Union is the Students' Council. It is the official channel of communication between undergraduate students and the General Faculties Council.
The Students' Council oversees policy and financial matters and the Students' Union carries out the work, although the final say belongs to the Students' Council.
The Executive Committee is the most visible component of the Students' Union, and consists of a President, four Vice-Presidents (VP Academic, VP External, VP Operations and Finance, and VP Student Life), and a General Manager.
While Executive Committee members are elected by and represent the entire student body, members of the Students' Council are elected by and represent students within their faculty. Student Councilor positions are voluntary, although members of the Executive Committee are paid. The Executive Committee of the Students' Union runs for election during February and the voting takes place in March.
The General Manager is a permanent, full-time employee of the University and, as a non-student, is not eligible to vote on Students' Union matters. This position has been held for years by W.D. (Bill) Smith. He works closely with the Executive Committee and provides advice which promotes continuity from one year's Committee to the next. All the Students' Union services report to the General Manager, and he reports to the President of the Students' Union.
The SU President is responsible for the overall policy and direction of the Students' Union and represents students in the larger community. One recent President, Samantha Power, asserted that students needed to voice their concerns about large classes, too few professors, and a lack of study space. The President chairs the Executive Committee, the Internal Review Board, which maintains bylaws and policies of the Students' Union, and the Nominating Committee. The President also sits as a voting member on the Financial Affairs Board, the Students' Council, and the Council of Faculty Associations. The President sits as a non-voting member on the Alumni Council, the Board of Governors, the General Faculties Council, and the Academic Planning Committee. The President represents the University of Alberta on the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS).
The Vice-President (Academic) is responsible for academic matters such as teaching quality, academic policies, and the cost of textbooks. One initiative of recent VP (Academic) Mat Johnson was to build and make available to students a database of previously set exams.
The Vice-President (External) is responsible for interactions between the Students' Union and external bodies such as government. This portfolio includes work on policy development related to post-secondary funding, lobbying efforts, and raising awareness in the larger community about student concerns. Recently, the VP (External) has been working to coordinate cooperation between the City of Edmonton and University Administration to bring about a university student bus pass. The Students' Union election of 2007 included a referendum question asking students whether they favour a Universal Transit Pass (U-Pass) that would allow all students unlimited travel during the academic year on the Edmonton Transit System, St Albert Transit, and Strathcona Country Transit. The cost will be a mandatory $75 per term for each student. The student body voted yes in the referendum, and the new U-Pass was available in the 2007–2008 school year for the first time.
The Vice-President (Operations and Finance) is responsible for the over $9 million budget.
The Vice-President (Student Life) is responsible for non-academic matters related to student life. This portfolio includes organization of the fall and winter term welcome festivities, known as Week of Welcome and Antifreeze, respectively.
The Board of Governor's representative participates on the Board of Governors, the University's highest governing body responsible for setting tuition, managing University finances, managing the approval of new buildings, and establishing the University's strategic direction.
As the advocate for student affairs on campus, the Students' Union involves itself with research, lobbying, and external relations. One of the most pressing annual concerns is tuition. As an advocate for student life, the Students' Union hopes to improve students' University experience. The Students' Union also provides an opportunity for students to experience the steps necessary to affect change by brainstorming ideas, targeting an audience of those who can help to bring about the changes, and crafting appropriate messages to involve the public in proposed changes being advocated. People involved in the Students' Union learn about petitions, town hall meetings, letter campaigns, coalition building, and advertising: the SU uses these mechanisms to achieve its goals.
Services and Campus Businesses
The Students' Union provides a myriad of services to students enrolled at the University of Alberta. The SU began publishing The Gateway, the student's newspaper, in 1911. However, The Gateway is now independent of the Students' Union. In 1912, the Committee on Student Affairs began its work as a joint committee between students and University officials. Today, supervising matters related to student affairs and discipline is carried out by the Council on Student Affairs.
The first Students' Union Building opened in 1950; a new Students' Union Building opened in 1967. This new building, operated by the Students' Union, underwent major renovation in 2002. Other businesses owned by the Students' Union vary from coffee shops and pubs to performance theatre space and printing shops.
Services provided by the Studetns' Union include:
- Access Fund: provides needs-based bursaries drawn from SU fees
- Bearscat: Internet system to register for and schedule classes
- Campus Food Bank: helps feed students in need
- Centre for Student Development: helps organize events such as orientation and Convocation
- ECOS Sustainability Office: works toward environmental sustainability and community involvement
- Financial Aid Information: helps students with finances
- InfoLink: provides students with answers to questions and listings on topics such as housing, old exams, tutors, car pools, and academic guidance
- OmbudService: provides assistance with any academic related dispute or appeal
- SafeWalk: accompanies anyone walking on or around campus at night
- Student Distress Centre: provides peer counselling services for students in distress
- Student Group Services: oversees all registered student groups that have offices in SUB
Businesses run by the Students' Union include:
- Cue: a venue with pool tables, pinball, and arcade video games
- CramDunk: a doughnut and fair trade coffee shop
- Dinwoodie Lounge: a venue for live acts on campus
- Myer Horowitz Theatre: a full-featured theatre
- Juicy: a smoothie and sandwich bar
- L'Express: a deli and hot meal venue
- Power Plant: one of the official campus bars that is also the perfect spot to eat or grab a coffee
- Print Centre: a full-service printing facility
- Room at the Top (RATT): located at the top of the Students' Union Building, RATT is one of the official campus bars
- SUBmart: the official campus convenience store
- SUBtitles: a store that allows students to buy and sell used textbooks
To find out more about the Students' Union, please visit its website.
|Presidents of the Students' Union|
|2003–2004||Mathew D. Brechtel|
|1992–1993||Randy P. Boissonnault|
|1987–1988||Timothy I. Boston|
|1986–1987||David S.R. Oginski|
|1985–1986||Mike A. Nickel|
|1984–1985||Floyd W. Hodgins|
|1983–1984||Robert G. Greenhill|
|1982–1983||Robert G. Greenhill|
|1981–1982||Philip D.K. Soper|
|1980–1981||Nolan D. Astley|
|1979–1980||Dean L. Olmstead|
|1978–1979||Cheryl A. Hume|
|1977–1978||E.J. (Jay) Spark|
|1976–1977||Leonard J. Zoetman|
|1974–1975||Joseph G. McGhie|
|1973–1974||George W. Mantor|
|1972–1973||Gerald A. Riskin|
|1971–1972||Donald G. McKenzie|
|1970–1971||Timothy J. Christian|
|1969–1970||David T. Leadbeater|
|1967–1968||Al W. Anderson|
|1965–1966||Richard T. Price|
|1964–1965||Francis M. Saville|
|1963–1964||A. Wesley Cragg|
|1962–1963||David E. Jenkins|
|1961–1962||Peter S. Hyndman|
|1960–1961||Alex F. McCalla|
|1959–1960||John V. Decore|
|1958–1959||Louis Davies Hyndman|
|1957–1958||Robert F. Smith|
|1956–1957||John N. Chappel|
|1955–1956||John D. Bracco|
|1954–1955||Robert J. Edgar|
|1953–1954||W.A. Doug Burns|
|1951–1952||E. Peter Lougheed|
|1948–1949||Bernard J. Bowlen|
|1946–1947||Willard (Bill) Pybus|
|1938–1939||John A. Maxwell|
|1935–1936||Edward E. Bishop|
|1927–1928||D.J. Wesley Oke|
|1926–1927||Ernest B. Wilson|
|1925–1926||Percy G. Davies|
|1924–1925||Mark R. Levey (Marshall)|
|1923–1924||John A. McAllister|
|1922–1923||Robert L. Lamb|
|1916–1917||Katherine I. McCrimmon|
|1916||Robert K. Colter|
|1915–1916||Arthur E. White|
|1913–1914||H.G. (Paddy) Nolan|
|1911–1912||Albert E. Ottewell|
|1909–1910||F. Stacey McCall|