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About Your Students’ Union

Every student at North Island College is a member of the North Island Students’ Union, a democratic, student run organization that provides services, events, and advocacy to compliment the services offered by North Island College.  By working together as a Students’ Union, members make their collective voices heard, and are able to raise important issues of access, inclusion and affordability on college campuses, and participate in college committees that make decisions where student input it crucial. We are also able to use our size and cooperation to offer services for ourselves that better meet our needs as students.

History of the Union

In the spring of 1991, recognizing the importance of having a representative voice on campus, a group of Campbell River campus students decided to establish a permanent, campus-wide organisation to represent students’ interests. For assistance, the group contacted the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union (VIUSU) in Nanaimo, who referred them to the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS) office in Vancouver. The BCFS is a collective of students’ unions across British Columbia that helps to coordinate action on a larger scale than is possible at a local students’ union.

Over the next several months, with the help of the Federation, a plan was developed to form a students’ union. Contacts were established at other North Island College campuses and centres and eventually a constitution and bylaws were developed and registered with the provincial government.

In October 1991, a referendum was held and students at the (then 17) North Island College campuses and centres voted on whether to establish a Students’ Union to democratically represent them.

The decision was clear—92 per cent of North Island College students voted in favour of creating a united, democratic students’ union, the North Island Students’ Association (NISA) as well as becoming members in the British Columbia Federation of Students.

Membership in this coalition of students has provided support for the continued development of our Students’ Union and has ensured that North Island students’ challenges and concerns related to post-secondary education are heard.

Over the next 20 years, the Students’ Union operated with varying levels of activity on behalf of its membership. Due to the nature of the organisation, minimal resources and high level of turnover among the volunteer board members, NISA required frequent assistance from the British Columbia Federation of Students and the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union to ensure the continuation of a students’ union at North Island College. Without their continued support, it is unlikely that NISA could have maintained its society status or continued representing students’ interests across the region.

The consistent need for outside support to maintain the Union prompted students to undertake another major change in 2009. Through an extensive survey, members reviewed the services and events of what is now known as the North Island Students’ Union (NISU), compared to common services offered by other students’ unions. Nearly a quarter of the students at NIC completed the survey, with clear results indicating that members wanted to see a level of service and advocacy from their Union comparable to that of students’ unions across the province.

Based on the survey results, the Students’ Union Board of Directors held a referendum to create new services, increase opportunities for campus life, and adjust the membership fee to ensure the long-term viability of the Union. Members voted for the new changes by an overwhelming margin of 98.5% in favour. This strong mandate has put the North Island Students’ Union on an equal footing with the rest of the student unions in British Columbia, and enabled ourt Students’ Union to operate independently and effectively on behalf of the members at North Island College.

North Island College has changed dramatically over the years, and the North Island Students’ Union has also adapted to serve its larger, more diverse membership. Students continue to be represented by their students’ union on the College’s four campuses and centers.

Democratic Decision-Making

The most important and binding decisions of the students’ union are the ones made by its members (North Island College students) in referenda, general meetings and elections. These decisions determine the elected members of the Campus Councils and the Executive Committee, and help prioritize the activities and operations of the students’ union throughout the year.

At the provincial level, decisions are also made democratically. Every member union of the British Columbia Federation of Students exercises a single vote at provincial general meetings, regardless of the size of the students’ union membership. Through active participation in these meetings, North Island College students have a say in setting the policies, direction, and priorities for the student movement in our province.

The North Island Students’ Union also votes on the Federation’s leadership and has a representative on the British Columbia Executive Committee, the board of directors for the British Columbia Federation of Students.

General Meetings

The North Island Students’ Union holds a General Meeting once per year. This is the highest decision-making body of our students’ union. All NIC students are encouraged to attend the meeting to review the financial statements and activities of the Union from the previous year, and to play a role in shaping the direction of the Students’ Union for the year ahead.

Campus Councils

The local campus activities of the students’ union are managed by elected Campus Councils. Campus Council meetings are held throughout the academic year and provide a venue for students at each campus to decide what types of events and activities are best suited to each individual campus. They also provide a meaningful venue of communication between the greater students’ union membership and the NISU Executive Committee that oversees the overall direction of the Union.

Elections for Campus Councils are held at the beginning of the fall semester with every North Island College student eligible to run and vote in the elections. Look for notices marking the opening of the nomination period in September. An important function of Campus Councils is to elect local campus representatives to the Executive Committee of the students’ union.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee is the students’ union’s Board of Directors, who coordinate and implement the work and activities of the students’ union. The Executive Committee is also responsible for managing the students’ union’s budget and representing North Island College students within the college and the community. This includes selecting student representatives to College committees to provide a student perspective on a host of issues affecting the College.

The Executive Committee is comprised of representatives selected from each of the Campus Councils of the students’ union. The following Campus Councils each have three positions for representatives on the Executive Committee:

All other centres have one representative position each on the Executive Committee. Following the appointment of representatives to the Executive Committee, members are elected to the following portfolio positions:

Aboriginal Students’ Liaison

Chairperson

Federation Representative

Treasurer

Women Students’ Liaison

The Executive Committee can be reached by emailing organiser@nisu.ca.

Membership Dues

Each student pays membership dues to support the local, provincial, and national work of the Students’ Union and the Federation—$49.79 per semester for members in academic programs or $12.45 per month for members in vocational programs. Membership dues are set through the process of democratic referenda, and increase according to the rate of inflation.

Advocacy

Locally, the students’ union is the official and democratic voice for students at North Island College, providing representation and engaging in advocacy work. Students are represented on College committees, the Education Council and the Board of Governors.

The students’ union also helps individual students with grade and other appeals, a process that can be difficult for a student to take on independently, support and resources are available through the students’ union.