Why are we doing this?
UMSU has had many structures throughout its history, which have all tried to make the job of representing you and providing services and advocacy to you as efficient as possible without putting your student experience at risk. Right now, the main way UMSU is governed is through annual elections to several groups in UMSU that together can make decisions about how best to direct student money and how best to represent students.
Currently, the annual elections elect a whole bunch of students to “office bearers” positions. These office bearers each have a special area of responsibility—education, welfare, clubs and societies, activities, and others, as well as the president and general secretary to lead the organisation—and plan different events and campaigns that UMSU holds throughout the year. Office bearers have to be accountable, though—currently, they are accountable to an elected committee of seven people—one committee to each office bearer—who approve or reject the decisions and spending requests that office bearers make.
You also elect a bunch of students to be “students’ councillors”, who are just like the board of directors in a company. They decide the annual budget of UMSU, and decide just what UMSU will focus on from year to year. The annual budget of UMSU is over eight million dollars, so it’s incredibly important that the structure we use to manage those funds (which are majority student funds) is efficient and risk-free. Office bearers also have to stay accountable to these councillors, and have to submit reports to show that they’re continuing to work effectively for students.
Right now, in the Renew Our UMSU project, we’re thinking about whether this structure works best for UMSU. You might not be familiar with this structure at all—which might mean that it’s too obscure and niche to work for all students, or that it works invisibly to make the job of running UMSU as smooth as possible. Or you might be familiar with this structure, and like certain elements and dislike other elements.
It’s also difficult for us to represent certain types of students with the structure we currently have. We’re supposed to represent all students, but right now, undergraduate and domestic students are overrepresented, while graduate and international students are underrepresented in their voice being heard and their needs being addressed.
The Renew Our UMSU Forum, on the 18th of October, wants to try and answer all these questions, and we want your voice! Even if you’ve never really interacted with any of these mysterious bodies, it’s super important that all students have a say in how their union runs.