By Candace Simms
This is a response to the letter, Labatt boycott costing MUN students, by Noah Davis-Power which appeared in the July 30 issue of The Telegram.
MUNSU represents 13,000 undergraduate students at Memorial’s St. John’s campus.
The Students’ Union undertakes advocacy work and provides cost-saving services to improve the lives of our members.
One such service is The Breezeway, a student-run bar and safe space to socialize.
The bar offers low-cost products and entertainment, while providing employment to over 40 students annually.
It is not primarily a business venture but rather a service run by students for students.
Over the past year, the Students’ Union has taken steps to reduce expenses at the service by over $70,000.
Because of planned action in the coming year, the projected subsidy is down another $15,000. The $161,000 Mr. Davis-Power refers to was the projected cost of running the service for 2012-2013 — a number the Students’ Union reduced by over $40,000 come year-end.
The allegation that the boycott of Labatt products will impact this goal is also unfounded, as bar sales have remained steady since the MUNSU chose to take its stance.
MUNSU’s Board of Directors is made up of students who are democratically elected to work for the betterment of our members’ lives.
The Students’ Union employs transparent and accountable decision-making structures, as set forth in the union’s policies and bylaws, to make decisions. On June 17, after open meetings, a committee of the board decided unanimously to support local workers and their requested boycott of Labatt products.
MUNSU chose to take this stance for good reason.
MUN does not exist in a bubble and students’ lives do not exist in a vacuum. The two-tiering of benefits and the weakening of workers’ rights will negatively impact our members as they enter the work force.
We hear from students on a regular basis about their concerns with changes taking place in the labour market.
It is up to individual students if they choose to take action and respect the boycott themselves. MUNSU has never instructed members what beer to drink (nor does it have the ability to do so); rather, a decision was made not to sell Labatt products at the Breezeway during the strike.
It is unfortunate that Labatt has made the decision to pull sponsorship from all student groups on campus.
However, when approached by a student society that had its funding cut from Labatt, just days before an event, MUNSU was able to secure funding from other sources.
As a result, the group ended up with even more resources than before Labatt decided to pull the plug.
If there are groups that are concerned about impacts on their events or sponsorship we encourage them to contact the Students’ Union immediately.
MUNSU is here to serve students, and will work to secure alternate funding arrangements for affected groups.
While we continue to support the boycott of Labatt products, we encourage both sides to return to the table to reach a mutually beneficial collective agreement.
Candace Simms is MUNSU’s Director
of External Affairs, Communications,