By Lama Kanj
Special to The Dialog
When asked if they would like to join the Student Representative Council (SRC), nearly every student replied, “What’s that?”
When I asked Alistair Courtney, director of Public Relations, if he thought the SRC is a success he straightforwardly replied, “No, because to be a success you have to have involvement by the faculty, by your board, and everybody has to jump on-board. For anything to be successful you have to be teamed. Without teamwork nothing will happen.”
The SRC is composed of student volunteers who act as program ambassadors. Program ambassadors are an extension of support and promotion for the Student Association (SA) whose purpose is to promote student engagement. An SRC ambassador ends up with great leadership skills, a list of resume-worthy volunteer experience, a chance to win incredible prizes and a letter of recommendation.
As an enthusiastic member in many student groups, I knew I had to get involved. In doing so, I have been witness to the struggles this program has been facing. With such an enriching experience, along with the many prizes awarded for highly involved ambassadors, why is the number of ambassadors dwindling?
It seems that the SRC has a history of struggling with fluctuating attendance. The recommendation of Hakim Belmihoub, SRC & communications commissioner from 2011 to redesign the program in order to gain the support of SA chairs and faculty has not been met.
At the outset, the SA had designed the program for at least 100 student ambassadors, with the opportunity to expand should the need arise. Currently, there are approximately 30 active participants. If the monthly meetings are any indication of the program’s success, as the days in the remaining school year dwindle, so does the number of volunteers.
Although the program began in 2011, when Courtney took over he added the prizes as incentives for students who volunteer.
Courtney concentrated on the idea of teamwork, stating that it is the cause of the under-attendance of student ambassadors, “You can get a lot of students from this but it’s the teamwork that needs to be done and just getting the word out there about what people can do.” He plans on implementing classroom visits to recruit students, “I have approached the VP of Academics in a meeting, and I told her what our concerns were in getting the student body to know, we are here. Because a lot of them don’t know.”
Courtney acknowledged that his being away for a month prevented him from being involved. However, he stated that with proper teamwork, the SRC would not have suffered as such.
Zameer Zahid, the commissioner of Public Relations, does more than his fair share of work for the SRC. He was more concerned with the fact that nobody else seems to be doing their job, “It’s understaffed. It’s just me doing everything. I’m supposed to have help. You’ve seen the list of Educational Reps., right? They never go. Alistair? He’s only been to two meetings”.
Courtney was less forthcoming saying, “I don’t want to be too rude and tell you the truth. I should tell you the truth but many people would use that against me. You would think that at this place you’d be able to speak freely but there’s still technicalities.”
SA Business Rep. Jason Monaghan did not reply to an email for comment.