TRU student union took nominations, then quietly cancelled $16K in awards | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source

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TRU student union took nominations, then quietly cancelled $16K in awards

Thompson Rivers University

The Thompson Rivers University Student Union backed out of its annual student awards last year, but didn't tell students about it.

Eight winners of the Awards of Excellence are selected every year based on their contributions to the university and the wider community. Each winner has to be nominated and is up for a $2,000 award.

Last year, the union took nominations, but quietly cancelled plans to select any winners.

"The 2022 awards never got adjudicated," Nathan Lane, student union executive director, said. "We actually paused the program to be able to review it and relaunch in 2023."

Nominations opened on April 29, 2022, but the union then remained quiet about the awards until it began taking nominations for 2023. Lane said they only informed students who asked what happened to their nominations, but didn't make the decision public.

"I think it's their duty to be accountable and transparent with paying members of their student union," university student Olivia McLelland said.

Student fees contribute to the student union budget.

She's questioned the student union for months, trying to understand who decided not to hand out the award and urged the union to simply make their decision public.

"One of the main things when I reached out was I felt they should have publicized this information," she said.

McLelland was nominated for one of the awards that year and she learned of the decision from the person who nominated her.

"She tried to get in touch with them... for five months to find out what happened and no one gave her an answer," McLelland said.

She said the nominator eventually got her answer by January, which was when McLelland began to question the student union. An email exchange between Lane and McLelland shows the student union considered cancelling the awards entirely.

The student union didn't answer her questions when she pressed for an explanation as to why the awards were cancelled.

Lane told the awards were postponed in 2022 to review the eligibility criteria.

"We weren't getting the outcomes we were hoping for in the awards," Lane said.

He said the student union removed the teaching award to restrict them to just students.

The change also removed the club leadership award, which was restricted to only students leading extracurricular clubs, as the name implies. That award was replaced with the campus life award, which follows the same extracurricular criteria but isn't restricted to leadership.

He also said the $16,000 that would have been awarded to students in the 2022 awards rolled over into the 2023 budget and will remain allocated for student grants.

Lane didn't say whether the board of directors decided to back out of the 2022 awards or if it was a staff decision. It's not clear why they chose to cancel the entire program for the year if the student union was reviewing eligibility for just two of them.

He also didn't say why the student union chose not to announce that decision publicly, despite the call for nominations in April 2022.

Seven students were given $2,000 awards as part of the 2023 program. Winners were announced on the student union website May 18 and can be found here.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Levi Landry or call 250-819-3723 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos or news tips to the newsroom and be entered to win a monthly prize draw.

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