URSU candidates answer your questions
As the school year is approaching its end so too are URSU’s student representative’s terms, which brings us to elections. Most students may have already noticed campaign posters plastered throughout the school, tables in the Riddell Centre, and presentations taking place in classrooms. As a preview for the week leading up to the March 16 and 17 vote, we have conducted a Q & A with the URSU president candidates to let you get to know them better.
The Carillon: Who is (candidate)?
Kent Peterson: I am a fourth-year business student here at the University of Regina. I’ve been involved in campus life ever since I got to university. I’ve been elected to the board of directors at the Carillon; I served two terms on the board. I’ve also written for the Carillon and was hired as a business manager. Doing that job you meet a lot of different people and do a lot of different things. It’s all created a sense of pride for me in the University of Regina campus.
Reid Hill: Well, he’s a fourth-year history major with a political science minor. He’s been under three presidents here: Mike Burton, [Jessica Sinclair], and Kyle Addison. He’s seen it all, he’s done it all, and he’s been active in arts for a long time helping out with the arts society and so on whenever he can.
Kyle Addison: Kyle Addison is a fourth-year business student at the University of Regina. He is the current president of the University of Regina students’ union, serving his second term and looking forward to at least attempting going on to a third term.
TC: What do you think students want from their students’ union?
KP: Students want a union that advocates for them. Last year tuition went up five per cent and the year before it went up three per cent. Students want a union that will advocate for a tuition freeze. The financial barrier is going up and that adversity affects all people; it certainly affects women, First Nations people, and low income families more than anyone else. I don’t want to see those people have to drop out of school or not be allowed to come here in the first place. We have a housing crisis in the city of Regina and the students’ union has a central role to play in that. It can lobby the university and the provincial government to fund affordable housing projects on campus.
RH: A big one is better communications, that’s what I think students really want. They want to know what’s going on, they don’t want to be left in the dark or left to last minute on what’s going on; they want to see it on a wall. When a referendum or anything is happening they want to know it right then and there and ask these questions: Why is this happening now? What is this? Who are the players?
KA: Well, there are three issues concerning students right now. Those issues are affordable tuition rates, increased sponsorship and [President’s Advisory Committee] funding, along with that decreased student fees which tie into affordable tuition, and better parking services.
TC: What are you going to do if elected?
KP: Currently URSU executives get discounts at the Owl. We all, as students, own that bar and grill and therefore we are the ones paying for their lunches. I don’t think that’s appropriate, fair, or responsible. If the Voice of Students team is elected we will eliminate those Owl discounts. Currently URSU executives get two free classes each and every semester. If we are elected we will cut in half the number of free classes we can get, and then probably reduce it to zero once we know where we would allot that money.
RH: I want to see if I can lower tuition, or at minimum if I can freeze it. I want to see that the website and all the communication is upgraded and fixed. I want to bring in a U-Pass. We tried to bring in a U-Pass [two years ago]; it was put down but I want to see a U-Pass that has more options for students; opt-in, opt-out. Give the students a choice instead of making it mandatory. The students need a choice.
KA: With affordable tuition what we’re trying to do and what were going to do is lobby the provincial government on a tuition freeze. We’ll be issuing them a document stating why a tuition freeze benefits students and how it helps them sustain a positive educational experience. If that’s not highly perceived by the government we’re going to be moving to what we call plan B and that’s a tuition management strategy which is a strategy that would place a cap on tuition increase rates annually to hopefully two per cent. We’re going to increase PAC funding to all the student societies and increase sponsorship funding for clubs and whatnot simply because we have a much higher amount of clubs than we’ve had in any other year. We’ve had a much higher request for sponsorship so that needs to be addressed. For decreased fees, since being elected in 2009, For Students have taken the Owl from a $190,000 per year deficit to be in the black and retain a [projected] profit of $40 000. We can reduce student fees now and save students between $10,000 to $20,000 in the upcoming year. We can also cut in half the locker fees, so that’s another positive thing. When students are trying to make it to class on time it’s hard to find a parking spot for two reasons: one is because they oversell the lot, and two is because there are simply not enough parking stalls. So we need to lobby the university to increase the number of parking stalls and eliminate the fact that they oversell the lots.
TC: Why should students vote for you?
KP: Students should vote for us because we’re a fresh voice, some new faces that not only have alternative views and new ideas, but also the experience on campus to implement those ideas. We have a 10-page policy document on our Facebook group that’s open and transparent; anyone can go read it. We really want feedback and input. We suggest things like community gardens, green roofs on campus, better public transportation, and more direct bus routes to the university. Students also want a student government that involves the community. Community in a larger sense as in the University of Regina and the city of Regina; but community also in the groups we associate with. Some people can’t go into the bar, yet we routinely hold student events there. We would stop doing that because we think it excludes them. I think that we’re listening to their ideas and presenting something that a students’ union should be doing. The Voice of Students team vows that if there’s ever a referendum, if we are elected, that we will not choose one side. We don’t think that’s fair and it’s certainly is more divisive than it’s worth. We will fund both sides; we will say: here’s some money, go run a campaign – I think this is what should have been done with the CFS campaigns.
RH: I’m an arts major and I want to represent the overall school and not just business students and their interests. I want to see that the majority is shown – every other class of students in the school should have a say and need to have a say. All the colleges should have a say – not to be marginalized, especially the student groups. Some have been marginalized in the past and they shouldn’t be marginalized anymore. They should be put to the forefront and given a say.
KA: I think we represent every student on campus. There’s something in our platform for everyone and we have a very diverse team. We included not only the executives on our team but we also have members that are running for board positions and senate. There is no one philosophical alignment of interest on our team, there’s very different ideologies and I think that we make the perfect ball ground to represent every student.