The Carillon’s Derek Cameron caught up with the lone candidate for URSU’s Vice President External position, Abby Rutko:
DC: Why did you decide to run?
AR: I honestly decided to run because I needed a change. I have been involved in many groups and departments on campus, and I wanted the chance to represent the students at this university on a larger scale. My experience in the past has allowed me to learn the ins and outs of the University, and I think applying the knowledge and having the opportunity to expand my horizons in a student-focused direction was my main reason for running.
DC: What are your priorities within your position?
AR: Over the past few years, URSU has worked to make the university experience for students, both international and domestic, just that: an experience. I want to continue on a similar path that would allow students to feel like their Students’ Union truly is representative of their interests, concerns, and priorities. That being said, I want to focus on the issues and topics that matter to students. Broadly speaking, they include events and building a sense of community, as well as having the facilities to achieve these objectives.
DC: What concrete goals will you pursue to ensure your priorities receive attention?
AR: Ensuring my priorities receive attention, in that I will communicate and elaborate on my priorities. They will not be “my priorities,” but they will be the priorities of the students, and I will do my best to advocate for them. Getting out and interacting with the students at the U of R will ensure that their priorities are voiced and considered. With my persuasive and effective communication skills, the priorities and concerns of the students will not go unnoticed.
DC: Will you pursue changes to URSU? If so, what changes and why?
AR: The three main things that I want to focus on, they include The Owl, working towards a more inclusive Welcome Week, and encouraging students’ societies and clubs to work together.
First, continuing with the improvement that the past URSU executive accomplished, I would like to look into offering more student incentives and work to make The Owl a more comfortable space that all students and staff can enjoy.
Secondly, Welcome Week is basically the biggest event of the year, where students gather again to start the school year, and it’s the place where new students get to see all of the different services, clubs and opportunities on campus. I would like to focus on ensuring that Welcome Week is inclusive to all students, clubs and staff.
Lastly, the students’ societies on our campus work tirelessly to plan events for their students. I want to encourage and foster the relationships between students’ societies and student clubs. This would allow for the collaboration and networking between students. Creating a space and the opportunities for these relationships to grow would allow each society and club to support one another to create a strong sense of community and pride within our university.
DC: What are your wider priorities for URSU?
AR: I think the wider priorities of URSU should focus on building community and fostering a sense of pride. Ensuring that the students at the U of R feel like URSU accurately represents and genuinely cares about the students attending the U of R is huge. I know that some students feel as though URSU does not effectively distribute and allocate student fees, or that the diverse opinions are represented through the actions of the student union. I want to be able to represent and effectively share feedback from students regarding their thoughts about URSU and its plans.
DC: What role do you see for URSU outside the university community?
AR: Outside of the University community, I see URSU getting involved and showing its presence with future students, as well as creating an environment where alumni and community members are welcome and able to express their concerns so that if there is any support that URSU can offer, that we do our best we can to do so.
DC: How do you think you can change URSU’s image as being “The Owl”?
AR: I think offering and communicating our other incentives for our other services could be the key to shift the focus. The Owl is the hub for students, and is the most visible of the services associated with URSU. If we can shift the focus to our other events or services, then we can encompass everything that URSU has to offer, not just the student bar.
DC: How will you ensure that students see their URSU fees working for them?
AR: Allowing student feedback and perhaps sharing what information we can would alleviate the ambiguity associated with the allocation and distribution of student fees.