SU Reviews: VP External Lauren Batiuk

By Lawrence Bailey

The VP External should be one of two faces, along with the president, of the Students’ Union in the community. Representing University of Calgary students to local, provincial and federal governments and organizations is a primary responsibility. In addition, the VP External is required to effectively communicate with students and external entities about the objectives of the SU.

Were she a one-woman army, Students’ Union Vice-President External Lauren Batiuk would be a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for her, she’s part of an organization, and despite her stellar performance in the battles she chooses to fight, the bulk of her associates are less than impressed.

In all fairness, however, Batiuk can’t be faulted for her results thus far–she’s doing exactly what she said she would last February.

The External portfolio is never without controversy. Two years ago, Oliver Bladek was criticized for not being on campus enough, for not being visible. Last year, Nick Vukovic was lambasted for his minimal efforts to commune with decision-makers in Edmonton. This year, Batiuk has received her fair share of criticism for not being in the SU offices during business hours.

So it goes.

As she describes it, she needs to meet with the movers and shakers in government, the community and administration during business hours, as those are the times they’re available to her. As a result, Batiuk’s office light can often be seen into the wee hours of the morning as she gets her paper work done in what little time she has.

No one questions her work ethic.

There have been major questions and major complaints about her inability to relinquish control and her lack of respect for her coworkers, however. Terms like "cold and unapproachable," "disgusting lack of respect" and "works off negative energy" litter the feedback garnered from fellow executives and commissioners.

Her triumphs include seeing every amendment she lobbied for appear in the second reading of Bill 43, repairing long-standing rifts between the SU and MLAs and administration, and increasing the awareness of students’ plight in the community.

Her failures, few but glaring, revolve more around her personality and her demeanor than her performance. She is seen by nearly all her peers as unapproachable, cold, uncaring, aloof and rude. She is criticized for her unwillingness to listen to new ideas and her reliance on block voting to pass her motions in Students’ Legislative Council. Some also feel she has a personal vendetta against the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations.

Criticisms of the way she conducts her business aside, Batiuk has done exactly what she set out in her platform and, if all goes according to plan, she will complete her mandate by dealing with the legislative issues she addressed in her February 2003 campaign (namely CASA and Career Services).

Hopefully she can also learn how to play well with others, or else the glaring rifts and personal politics that plague the SU may hinder her ability to deliver on those promises.

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