All in all, unions are the reason that we — as workers, students, taxpayers, and the people who make the world go ‘round — have rights. They are the last bastion between us and the greedy, horrible, little people who would otherwise exploit the shit out of us. And as that much-needed buffer between the exploited and those who the exploited guillotine, the union should be a prevalent force in giving a voice for those who cannot speak against authority. Trent’s student union, the TCSA (the Trent Central Student Association, for all of you acronym enthusiasts) is one such body, dedicated to…
Something? We honestly have no real clue what they do in the way of union activity, but dammit, as a journalist and advocate for the little guy, I sure as shit will try to find out. So let’s go.
Now, you may be wondering, “Oh Shawn, what’s really the difference between the TCSA and a student government? It’s pretty easy to not take notice of the campus politics around here – I’M CONFUSED!”
Well dear reader, I, too, am confused as to the apparent blurred line between the TCSA’s duty as a purveyor of student rights and representation, and their foray into student government.
Ah, yes, student government: a concept we all remember from our days as soft-spoken, acne-riddled high schoolers, when our fellow — albeit dickish — classmates would run for titles such as “Student Body President” or something of that ilk. I digress.
It’s incredibly important to view the events behind the scenes of this inherently exploitative educational institution which charges us for everything.
Sitting in on a meeting between the TCSA Board and multiple representatives from clubs and levy groups, I was initially put off by the presence of poorly-hidden hardware used for espionage. A hand-blown glass vase in the centre of the table was filled with beautiful azaleas and had an obscenely large microphone jammed into the middle. This vibrant display stared down at us. The TCSA President’s eyes were adorned with a pair of thick-rimmed black glasses. They had a blinking light in the top corner, a feature one could only assume was a camera or some such recording device. The TCSA representatives quickly opened the floor to all present by stating, “Okay, so we have no real clue what’s going on but someone talk,” while flipping through a large stack of hundred dollar bills once encased in a box marked as “TCSA levy funding/pizza parties of suffering/money for burning.”
Visibly uncomfortable, a young woman began the meeting by pointing out the various issues facing the school’s levy groups in the wake of the current provincial government administration’s announcement of “Fuck Those Nerds.” As the young woman brought genuine concerns and valid arguments to the attention of those directly involved, the TCSA reps cut her off, stating that they (men) couldn’t possibly listen to her anymore. They opened the floor to a male counterpart.
The President then stated that “[the TCSA] has all the money it needs, so it doesn’t matter. We are absolutely not going to fight for this because we don’t have a dog in this fight.” He then went on a tirade about the emerging role of the TCSA as an Estado Novo (translated as a “New State”) and a body which would issue restrictions and laws upon the student body, claiming that any referendum on key issues would now solely be decided by the TCSA President’s office.
Taking the newly-cleaned Ford Nation™ brand boots out of his mouth, the TCSA President declared himself El Caudillo (meaning “the leader”) and revealed his crisp, 1930s-era military uniform. The subtle applause of the University Board of Governors could be heard in the background.
The meeting was quickly cut short and those present were rushed out by guards wearing light blue uniform shirts.
Reasonably confused, and startled by what I had just witnessed — which was arguably a putsch — I set out to find answers among the seemingly more reasonable heads of the student union. I first approached the TCSA Ethical Standards Commissioner, a position whose title would suggest level-headedness and a concern for corruption, social justice and all those other fine things. Discussing the restrictions on democracy within the newly-christened Trent Estado Novo, I was placed within an incredibly nuanced and important discussion about the problematic transition of a union into a government. I voiced my concerns as a student, and those concerns were met with dialogue and comforting rhetoric. When I approached the subject as an open member of the LGBTQIA2S+ community at Trent, the Commissioner began spitting venom, yelling, “What is this, alphabet soup? Get the hell out of my face!” I was rushed by a swarm of tiny, uniform-clad homunculi, and thrown out of the room to a cacophonic sound of “Beat it, queer!” and “Free speech!”
It would seem that the rights of students at this exploitative institution have taken the back-burner to the goals of the power-hungry. A student union, dedicated to preserving the rights of the easily exploited, has since transformed into the massive, bastardized student government which you see before you. You thought you were safe. You thought democracy was an assured right under our system. Well, kiddo, you were sorely mistaken.
Retraction (March 21, 2019): Against the print edition, the editors and author regret the specificity of detail with which the TCSA President was aligned with WWII dictatorships. Apologies.
A Clarification (Volume 53, Issue 12 – March 27): All in all, satire is a (grossly oversaturated) medium which aims to pique public interest in political, cultural, and socio-economic issues through the caricaturization of the flaws and issues of people, organisations, and events to the point of absurdity. The Bowlcut’s coverage of the TCSA in our last issue aimed to bring light to and poke fun at the goings on of our local student union. The previously mentioned article used broad, descriptive language to convey an understanding to the readers as to what a dictatorial system of government does. To hammer that point home, simplistic and broad descriptions of physical and political characteristics of multiple dictators were used. As a member of the queer community, I would never allude to, or make light of the genocide of millions of people. Any further context added by the reader is not the responsibility of the Bowlcut. The satirical analysis of the TCSA and its higher-ups was intended to shed a humorous light on the flaws and activity of the student gov — err — union. – Shawn Hinves