So … what exactly does the TCSA do?

tcsa office

The Trent Central Student Association is one of the most important organizations at Trent. It performs a wide variety of functions, from meeting new students to running the campaign against university tuition hikes.

In Volume 48, Issue 21, Arthur covered some of the organizational problems and inconsistencies of the TCSA’s policies and questioned whether they meet the needs of the students.

However, I thought that sometimes those articles might have been too emotional. The organization is much wider, and people should know a bit more about it.

To find out more about this organization I conducted an interview with TCSA representatives and I was surprised to learn a couple of interesting things.

For example, the buses used go one after another every 20 minutes, so students had to wait longer to get to Trent. Now, each Trent Express route sees a bus leave downtown every 10 minutes.

Meeting new students is also one of their responsibilities, which I could see on the first days of September. Organizing many events during our time at Trent is actually their responsibility.

You can imagine that those things do not always go as smoothly as they could. Sometimes, the TCSA has to seek additional funding or impose some restrictions, which makes it hard to plan the overall budget.

Finding new sponsors is also not such an easy thing, especially if the sponsors have already helped out before. Besides, the TCSA has to balance the time of its staff and its money. Students, who work there, have classes as well, and sometimes their concern for TCSA problems can become harmful both for academic and organizational success.

On the other hand, the TCSA does have some problems.

First, I could not find any particular answer as to whether the student union actually creates any academic value for students. Colour Run, movie nights etc. are not what every student wants from their student union, and for those who do not wish to spend time doing these activities, there are not many other options. So, why should only some people enjoy using our annual levies for TCSA events?

I barely contacted with the TCSA during my studies at Trent, but was happy to find out that students can have a voice as well.

For instance, students can run for a position on TCSA Board of Directors. For that you need to have “commitment” and be ready to become “an active voice of students”.

At the same time, students can influence the TCSA by coming to one of the board meetings, or the general meetings (the next General Meeting is September 17, 3-5pm, at Gzowski 110).

Currently a motion is being put forward to decrease the amount of board meetings the organization holds per month. Although, there are concerns that decreasing the the amount of meetings would affect feedback, the Board of Directors believe that they are still open to new ideas and willing to listen to the opinions of students.

They are proposing to get information via other sources, such as getting “field feedback”, which includes what students say or write about the TCSA events. That information can be biased and another source of feedback – board members’ opinions can only make that bias stronger.

What can a student do, if they want to be heard by TCSA? The student union started a program called “Campus Action Team”. The idea is that you volunteer for TCSA and get useful experience, and you leave feedback based on your observations.

In the end of interview, I asked to send a message to all Trent students. It turned out to not an easy task because I asked for it to be as short as one sentence. “You are the TCSA” – the executives finally agreed.