The Carillon has interviewed the three candidates running for URSU president. The order of answering the questions was decided before hand by drawing numbers out of a hat. The following does not necessarily represent the opinions of the Carillon, but rather, of the candidates interviewed.
Candidaties: Devon Peters, Amir Aboguddah, Annie Dormuth
Article: Alec Salloum- News Editor and Michael Chmielewski -Editor-in-Chief
1.Please explain your platform.
Devon: First off, the stuff that is going to affect students the most. Parking, we need to rethink our parking strategy. We’re losing 450 spots from the new residence we’re gaining 650 new students on campus. That’s a lot of new cars that’s a lot of lost spots. We need the Upass. The Upass has already been in action a little bit, but we need to bring it to the forefront and have a referendum within a year. Tuition, the province continues to underfund the university and the effect is that the administration continues to transfer the economic burden onto students. That needs to stop. I think student apathy is also a problem; I’d really like to empower students, so I think training student societies in terms of good governance and how to put on good events would really revitalize and engage students.
Amir: Parking is a big issue; it’s no secret that parking is an issue. With the Upass, for example, the Upass is very great idea, there’s lots of effort towards it, but I believe that priority is getting better bus routes. Ask any person who takes the bus. To them the priority is not the Upass more than it is the bus routes. When it comes to tuition, bringing affordable tuition again is a top priority, but I think there is even a greater priority which is greater transparency from URSU’s side and also from the university’s administration. If, for example, the university insists on raising tuition, or keeping it the way it is, at least the students have to know where their money is going, and that it’s not being used in an irresponsible way.
Annie: I’m running on a platform to represent and connect. The major problem here at the university is the fact that each student I talk to can’t name a service that the URSU can provide. You cannot have a fully functioning and well-ordered student’s union when students don’t even know what you do. So, a complete revitalization of the URSU webpage is essential. I know in this campaign I’ve found finding information extremely difficult. URSU also has to be ensured financial stability. By doing so, I’ll support the motion to charge off campus students URSU fees to create a better community here on campus and bring in some extra revenues that can go to student clubs, athletics, and student societies. Again, parking and tuition are two major ones.
2. What makes you think you are the best candidate for president of URSU?
Devon: So as you’ve heard from our answers here already, the platforms, the issues, that students really care about here, they’re pretty concentrated. So, what I bring to the table is beyond the platform; I’ve been volunteering with the URSU for the past year and I’ve also been a volunteer, and a very active member of lobbying the student union and the university for the past four years that I’ve been here. And I think that, about the other candidates, I have the experience and the internal knowledge of the way URSU works, and the way the University works and the way the city works, and social connections that they can’t bring to the table. So, head and shoulders, that’s what my advantage is, I know to make changes, I know who to talk to when I have an issue with parking, when I have an issue with the bus routes, and I can go to those people much more easily than someone who has to spend the first six months of their term meeting everyone.
Amir: Although I’m at a younger age, I’m not, in a position where if I become URSU President I’ll be startled and I’ll be nervous and I don’t know who to contact and what to do. I have lots of experience with decision makers and those who, you know, those who play pivotal roles in our society. And another I believe makes me most qualified is my dedication to be engaged with the students, my determination to be present with the students at all time, to eliminate this pyramid structure that URSU’s on the top and the students are on the bottom. I should be engaging, and approaching the students, not the other way around.
Annie: Well I’m a quick learner, that’s for sure. I think my major strengths, come from basically student and youth engagement, when it comes to governance and policies [it’s] something in my four years of university I’ve actively campaigned for: more student awareness, of what is going on in real issues, and I hope to bring that to the table by creating a more of a connection to the students. I want to see engagement, I want to talk to people, I want to hear their opinions and I have experience knowing that a wide variety of different views and opinions, for me it’s the best policy. That is how great policy is put forth and that is how great policy is implemented. So I want to hear from the students, I want to bring my experiences to the students union in that regard.
3. If you could sit down with each student individually, and speak to them, what would you would say to earn their vote?
Devon: Well I don’t need to sit down with every student; I’ve been standing with them in the hallways for the last week and the 500 or so students I managed to talk to I asked them the question “What do you think we should do to make the university a better place?” And so, that’d be my question “what do you want me to do to make the university a better place?”
Amir: Your question asks about what would I tell them, I prefer not to speak, I’d rather listen to the students. We have lots of opportunities to speak as candidates. So, I prefer very much to sit down and listen to what the students want. They have so much to offer and so many legitimate concerns I think that is what earns you the vote – that you are genuinely there, interested, to know what they want.
Annie: What I’ve been doing is walking around the university, not standing in one place, I’ve been walking around to various spots of the university and I’ve just been talking to people. I’ve been asking the question “Name one thing that the student union provides for you.” I have yet to have one student give me an answer. Then my follow up question is “What do you think the student union can do to fix that problem?” and I’ve gotten a variety of different answers and really good ideas and I realize that students have no idea what the student union does and most don’t even know they pay for it every year.