“…remember to enter QSA’s allyship poster contest. Those are all of your announcements for this morning, Marc Garneau, and have a great day.”

There was no mention of Semi Formal ticket sales on Tuesday morning, the last day of sales.

Why is this a problem? The final number of tickets sold was 162 out of the 300 available for sale, down from 309 sold last year, and SAC needed to sell 200 in order to break even. The SAC budget took a loss of approximately $500 by hosting the dance. Social Convenor Lydia Gouveia chalked up the decrease in sales this year to poor timing [1], however it is clear that not enough of an effort was made in the event’s promotion. With so much money on the line, the lackluster effort from SAC to advertise the dance is unacceptable. Ticket sales were already alarmingly low last Friday – under such circumstances, every student council member should have been in the halls telling students to buy tickets on Monday and Tuesday. Instead, the last day of sales was only advertised through a Facebook post on Monday night and an announcement on Monday afternoon.

This is also not the first time SAC has failed to do its due diligence. Last week, school sweater sales began, and it was revealed that this year’s sweaters will feature a design produced by Spirit Convenor Mara Gagiu. The design was originally to be decided through a school-wide design contest, but had to be cancelled twice due to the number of plagiarized designs that were submitted. Many students were not aware that the contest was being held. More importantly, students were not informed as to why the first contest had to be called off. As a result, many plagiarized designs were submitted during the second round of submissions, and even the original designs submitted could not be considered. This wasted time and effort both on the part of SAC and on the part of students submitting designs.

While many SAC members are in their Grade 12 year, and the pressures of schoolwork and making post-secondary plans are substantial, students should consider these issues before they run for student council. Student life, which SAC is responsible for, cannot be treated as if it is unimportant. Developing school spirit is as important as providing academic support – students who enjoy going to school and who feel welcome in the community are more likely to succeed.

Part of the problem is that there are few ways to keep SAC members accountable. Unlike professional politicians who need to seek re-election, SAC members are voted in for one year, and suffer no consequences if they do not contribute their full efforts. Staff and students are kept busy year-round, with coursework, marking, and tests, and exams to administer; removing SAC members from their positions mid-year is impractical. However, campaigning regulations can be modified to ensure that SAC members who are elected are dedicated and have a specific plan to achieve their goals.

One way this could be accomplished is by asking candidates to list specific tasks they will complete in order to accomplish the items in their platforms. This could include, for example, advertising sweater design contests and dance tickets in person in the hallways at lunch, as mentioned above. In addition, this will help to distinguish candidates from one another, as many students complain that the elections often boil down to a popularity contest, and that it is difficult to stand out. Finally, enforcing a task list will cause candidates to consider the responsibility that they are attempting to take on. Student council is a big commitment, and members must be able to take it seriously.

Correction, 6 December 2014: The deficit that the dance ran was $500, not $1500 as previously written.