author: kristian ferguson | news editor
Who’s who at URSU / Jaecy Bells
URSU general election on the horizon
Spring marks the start of the University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU])election cycle. With Monday Mar. 4 denoting the first official day of campaigning, the Carillon was able to interview a few of the presidential candidates and learn why they are running for president.
Victor Oriola has run for URSU before but never for president. While unsuccessful in previous campaigns, Oriola is excited for his next run.
“While many would see coming in second as a defeat, I see it as an opportunity to be the best learner.”
“I was new to campaigning for URSU and it was very stressful then. Everyone is looking at you and you are constantly being scrutinized. This year, with all the contacts I’ve made and all the community work I’ve done, I feel much more confident and much more relaxed.”
Oriola’s goal was summarized very succinctly.
“I am solely focused on being the best candidate that I can be and trying to convince my fellow students I would be a good leader for our student union.”
Oriola was happy with the path URSU was taking, but felt that more could be done.
“When it comes to my motivation for running for president, there is a lot that URSU is doing right now, but there is so much more we can be doing,” said Oriola.
“We have to elevate ourselves and be more relevant.”
Oriola’s concerns lay in the lack of direct involvement that URSU seemed to have in the daily student experience.
“There are too many people whose only interaction directly with URSU is to renew their UPass,” said Oriola.
“URSU should be involved in more hot button issues that affect students on campus. Ursu is currently engaged in a tuition freeze campaign and this is something that I think URSU should be doing more of.”
Oriola’s platform focused on three major issues.
“Firstly, I will continue to expand on the campaign for a tuition freeze,” said Oriola.
“When you talk about tuition, the cost of tuition is more than just one issue, it’s a nexus of multiple issues. Students pay tens of thousands to attend and, obviously, don’t want to fail their classes. In order to focus most effectively on their studies, they likely wouldn’t want to work full time or even part time. When you don’t work, you don’t make money which means you can’t buy the things you need. For some people that means that they can’t buy groceries. If you can’t eat, you will be stressed. If you are stressed, your grades will suffer. If they suffer enough, you fail the class, and then the cycle starts over again.”
Oriola focused on a connected issue for his second platform.
“The second is food insecurity. Too many people are unable to eat, or skip meals to save money,” said Oriola.
“In the fall semester, the URSU pantry ran out of supplies to help over 100 students who were registered. Outside of URSU, the premier demographic of food bank users are between 18 and 30.”
Oriola stressed that not everyone comes from the same background and may not have access to help that other students do.
“Not all students have a family safety net to fall back on to help them with the necessities and that is a space that URSU should be able to fill,” said Oriola.
“This is not as glamourous an issue as tuition, but it is something very real and affects students daily.”
Finally, Oriola focused on something that had been bothering him for a while at the university.
“I would like URSU to have a major role in tackling our horrendous sexual assault policy,” said Oriola.
“OurTurn scored the University of Regina with a D. We pay the second highest tuition in Canada. If we pay that much, something as important as our sexual health policy should be better than a D.”
Oriola continued to elaborate on the issue.
“That’s a failing grade. This is a problem that affects everybody. If you are paying this much to attend the university, you should not also be worried about being sexually assaulted. Worse yet, if you are, that if you report it, your needs would not be met adequately.”
The second candidate is Keone James Rohatensky, a newcomer to the URSU race, but not to the campus community.
“I have been part of student clubs since I started university,” Rohatensky said.
“I founded the Hill Marketing Club in August and we have had successful events since then. Also, I am on the board for UR Pride.”
They saw room for improvement at the university and were inspired by the people around them to run for president.
“I saw a bunch of issues within the university from my peers, colleagues, and some professors, who also recognized these issues.”
“I saw little to no action on these issues and I wanted to provide a better safe space for students.”
When asked for clarification on the issues that they saw, they were clear and direct with what they wanted changed.
“I want to have better and cheaper parking at the university, more bussing routes, and have more gender-neutral, accessible washrooms for trans people, nonbinary people, and people who have accessibility needs,” they said.
“I am running to focus on wellness, accessibility, and safety,” they said.
“Having more maintenance done on the food court, having biodegradable straws at URSU run outlets, like the Owl, keep the Fall break, as it is only a two-year pilot program right now, UR Fit samplers over the Feb. reading week, and having a permanent First Nation counsellor with counselling services, as well as another with a focus on LGBT+ issues and lingo.”
Their Facebook page detailed additional platforms such as “Composting bins across campus,” “Campus security walking around more on campus,” and “More dedicated study spaces across campus.”
This is only a sampling of the full breadth of candidates for the upcoming election season and the Carillon will provide updates as the election season unfolds.