External no longer eternal

Breaking news out of Saskatoon: the U of S Students Union has once again eliminated the executive’s external vice-president position. (This is what passes as the top story on page A4 in the StarPhoenix, everybody.) The VP-External position has been around since 2004, before which it was in existence until 2000.

Normally, I wouldn’t comment on the affairs of the USSU except this particular story involves yours truly in a distant way. I was the sitting VP-External in 2000 (Jeremy Warren’s story mentioned erroneously that it was cut in 1999) when we as an executive decided to recommend the position be discontinued the following year. Part of the reason was cost — we wanted to increase the pay for the remaining executives without breaking the bank — but also because much of the VP-Ext job could have been covered by the president.

How much of that was true was debatable. I remember previous councils when the VP-Ext was given more free reign to conduct lobbying efforts without much interference by the president. In my year and the previous, the president took a more active interest in the external relations in part, I assume, because they were poli sci majors.

In 2004, the executive of the day realized that a president might want to concentrate on other aspects of his/her job, or that the president might need a bit of help in lobbying efforts. I don’t know, and I don’t recall anyone asking me my opinion, which I now think was a little odd or, at least, short-sighted. In any case, the position was re-established presumably by the will of the then-executive.

The current and soon-to-be last VP-Ext comes across as someone who didn’t do a lot of work in his job, but maybe that was just Warren harking back to his Sheaf-writing days, when I can guess he took a more adversarial approach to the USSU. For myself, I know that I didn’t set ambitious enough goals which resulted in a slack workload from March to the end of my term in April. I do recall not putting up much of a fight to retain the position. Perhaps I should have, but by then I was getting kind of worn out from all the 10-to-12 hour, seven-day weeks.

That said, I loved that job. It was the best job I ever had. The kind of stuff I learned as a 23-year-old no-nothing punk has stayed with me to this day. I regret not running for student union president, as that would have been quite a challenge, but that doesn’t diminish the great work and great friends I experienced as VP-Ext.

I can only feel for that one student who now has to miss out on that great experience from here on out.

Or at least until they reinstate the VP-Ext position again.

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