There are many ways that supporting an outside strike can affect student life here at Memorial University.
When the Metrobus strike was on-going and being shown unwavering support from the Memorial University of Newfoundland Students’ Union (MUNSU), students were unable to commute the city or make class.
When the students’ union stood with the airport workers, students returning home were unable to do so without great hassle.
And now, with the boycott of Labatt products, students aren’t able to get their favourite beer in the gymnasium we call the Breezeway.
Not just about beer
It is significant enough being told to stand in solidarity when you probably just want a beer, but there is much more happening behind the scenes than not being able to get your Stella or Blue Star.
The student’s union is the primary funder of student groups across campus with its $1.1 million budget from student dues.
Each ratified group receives $120 each semester for operation costs, with each resource centre garnering $1,000 each semester to provide education, knowledge and resources about their respective groups to the campus population.
But that $1.1 million only goes so far when you have 13,000 students to provide for and over 100 campus groups.
So where does the rest of the money come from for the student groups?
It comes from government, it comes from outside community groups, and it comes from private businesses — one of those formerly being Labatt Breweries.
Each year Labatt gives back to its community that supports its business by giving to local charities, sports groups, and of course, to the students.
With tens of thousands in sponsorships over the past three years in products and donations to groups at Memorial University, they certainly do give back.
“I would love to help out with fundraising efforts,” said Steve Tobin, a sales representative for Labatt Breweries, “but unfortunately your Student Union issued a Labatt boycott and I have to respect their decision.”
To the disappointment of Labatt, again Tobin commented “So despite the fact that I am more than willing to sit down and help out the students of the university, my hands are tied.”
It comes down to the fact that student groups are now placed at a disadvantage for sponsorship of their fundraising events.
The faculty of engineering, music, archaeology, business, biology, and medicine have all been previously sponsored by Labatt, but because of the boycott the sponsorship deals have come to an end.
With MUNSU supporting the Labatt boycott, where is the money going to come from now?
Can the students’ union pick up the tab that groups are now going to incur?
Maybe if the Breezeway wasn’t losing $161,000 it would be a potential option.
Without the added support from Labatt, functions and events will simply not go ahead.
And that is the bottom line.
When it comes to informing, engaging and taking action, the students’ union has more than a thing or two to learn before it makes decisions that are now proving a detriment to the student body at Memorial University.