August 25, 2014

For immediate release

Halifax, Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia student unions are pleased to announce the launch of an independent review of their Democratic Governance. The review will be completed by consultant Michael Hughes, with oversight from an advisory committee comprised principally of former student union leaders.

The review is being undertaken to evaluate and improve the student unions’ own governance practices, notably in the view that student unions should hold themselves to the same standards of accountability and transparency that they ask of university and college administrators and governments. The consultant and Advisory Committee will operate at arm’s length from student leadership to ensure the review’s independence. 

“This review will help to establish stronger norms for how student associations are governed, to ensure they are accountable, responsible and democratic,” said the Review’s Advisory Committee Chair, Matt Risser. “It will also provide student unions and their various stakeholders with a forward-looking roadmap for governance improvement and student empowerment.”

Student associations are among the only democratically accountable organizations in Canada that represent young people as a constituency. Their leadership is elected annually by memberships numbering in the thousands. Student governments also provide unique spaces for incubating young leaders, who are empowered to represent their peers while exercising decision-making over very significant resources.

“We firmly believe that the best way to build engaging and positive cultures on Nova Scotia post-secondary campuses is by having authentic and accountable student leadership,” said Brandon Hamilton, Chair of the Review Steering Committee. “We want to tackle head-on any shortcomings with respect to democratic engagement and accountability by seeking independent, evidence-based advice on how we can do better. We look forward to the results of this review.”

Michael Hughes is a PhD candidate in Political Studies at Queen’s University with previous research experience on participatory governance and consultation processes.

Michael is also a graduate of Saint Mary’s University and a former Chief Electoral Officer for the Students’ Association.

Student unions participating in the Review include the Acadia Students’ Union, Cape Breton University Students’ Union, Dalhousie Agricultural Students’ Association, Saint Francis Xavier University Students’ Union and Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association. The project was made possible by support from the Democracy 250 Youth Engagement Legacy Trust.

More detailed terms of reference for the project are available at

A list of Steering and Advisory Committee representatives is available at:



Students Nova Scotia is a not-for-profit and non-partisan advocacy group that represents 37,794 Nova Scotia post-secondary students, including 86% of the university student population. Our members study at Acadia, Cape Breton, Dalhousie, Saint Mary’s, and St. Francis Xavier Universities, the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and the Atlantic School of Theology.


Media Contacts:

Jonathan Williams

StudentsNS Executive Director

902 422 4068

[email protected]


Brandon Hamilton

Steering Committee Chair and StFX Students’ Union President

902 867 2435

[email protected]