The Brandon University Students’ Union (BUSU) general elections are set to take place on March 11th and 12th. With the campaigning period now underway, The Quill sat down with all five executive candidates to help you make an informed decision before you cast your ballot.The candidates are running on two slates. The “Just Students Matter” slate consists of Stephanie Bachewich (President), Matthew May (Vice President Internal), and Julea Stoneman Sinclair (Vice President External). Incumbent Carissa Taylor (President) is running on the “Students Together” slate with Jenna Clinton (Vice President External).
The Quill: Why are you running?
Stephanie Bachewich: I’m women’s commissioner right now, and I found that I really enjoy interacting with students and making a better place for them, but I feel like it would be better if I was on the executive – I’d be able to do more for students. I’m the Vice President of the Political Science club, I helped the Aboriginal Student Council organize the Idle No More information session, and I was one of the main organizers for the Justin Trudeau event. I also gave tours to international students at the beginning of the term, which hasn’t been done before. I’ve done a few things, but I want to do more for students.
Matthew May: Recently I’ve become interested in student politics. When I’m reading about things that student unions do, I always feel like I can definitely shine there. I can do a really good job, especially in a position such as VPI who handles all the finances – I have a really good head for numbers. I come into any job I do with the mentality that I’m always going to work as hard as I can.
Julea Stoneman-Sinclair: I’ve been a part of the Aboriginal Student Council for the past two years, and I just started seeing some of the changes that needed to take place, from the troubles I’ve experienced within BUASC. We got to know some of the other clubs who were having problems too, and I just thought – I know what I’m good at, I’m good at [doing] what I do at the Aboriginal Student Council. I know that coming in, and being the VPE, I could start to make some of the changes that I wish had been there.
Jenna Clinton: I’m running because I care about student issues and general well being of students, and because I want other students to have as much fun at Brandon University as I have over the past three years. I have been a council member for BUSU for almost two years, and I think that will be of incredible help in this position. I’m running with Carissa Taylor, whom I have been working with since I first started with BUSU. Carissa and I get along very well and we both have a lot of motivation to help students. Being on BUSU has also given me other opportunities, such as becoming an employee and team leader of the Healthy Campus Project and being Campus Correspondent for BU for Student Health 101.
Carissa Taylor: I think that this year we’ve done a lot of really good things, and laid the groundwork for a lot of things I wanted to work on. I feel like I’ve accomplished most of the goals I set for myself, but there’s still a lot of follow-through to do. I still feel like there’s a lot I can be doing – a lot of things I’ve learned this year I think would help me in other initiatives next year. A lot of what we have been doing this year has been building relationships with people on campus. I think now that we have the groundwork set, where we have respectful working relationships with people, we’re able to do a lot more than people have been able to do in previous years. I obviously have experience sitting on all the committees and the boards, and actually doing this job. I think that there’s going to be, if I’m re-elected, no transition period, which means that those few months that previously would have been spent transitioning, can actually be spent getting stuff done.
The Quill: What do you think is the single most important issue facing students right now, and how do you plan to address it, if elected?
SB: Everyone on our slate has found that all the different departments and groups kind of do their own thing – which is totally cool. But what we want to do, as BUSU executive, we want to try to bring all the different groups together. We need to unite all the different faculties. I think it’s really important – being BUSU we represent everyone.
MM: I think the most important thing, for the purposes of my position, would be to let the students know what BUSU can do for them. I feel a lot of people right now are in the dark about the services BUSU offers. I want to put a friendlier face on BUSU, so students who wouldn’t normally come into the office might come in, even just to say hi, and just know they can do that. I feel like right now the number of students I know that can do that is small in relation to the population of the entire university.
JSS: I think it’s important that the students’ voices be heard. From my own experience, no one took BUASC seriously – no one really cared about what we needed to have done. We had to take drastic steps to make sure that it was actually completed. I think that’s one of the biggest things: a lot of students feel like they’re not appreciated or they’re not valued. We want to build those relationships so they get to know us, we get to know them, and they can come to us and we can find out exactly what they need. Then we can take action and start to make those changes.
JC: The single most important issue facing students right now is student loans! When I’m finished university, I’ll be deep down in the financial hole, so I understand this issue first-hand. Since money is a problem for students, I want to make sure that at least their BUSU fees are going as far as they’d like them to go. BUSU fees automatically come off of tuition, so I just want to make sure students are getting involved and getting the most out of their money. Also, if they’re enjoying themselves, maybe it will help take some of the stress over finances away!
CT: The cost of education, and making sure that when students graduate they can actually find jobs, because they’re investing a lot of money into an education, but there is really no promise that you’re going to get a job at the end of it. I think that’s something that hits home for a lot of students, especially if they’re entering the last year of their degree – how to address it is a little more difficult. It’s hard for us to control tuition fees because they’re now legislated. But we can work on things like making sure provincial loans are interest free, and also increasing the amount of bursaries and scholarships for students. We can also educate students on where the need is right now for employment. As long as students are coming into university with an accurate representation of where jobs are when they graduate, I think that’s important and I don’t think the university does enough to promote that.
The Quill: Why should students vote for you?
SB: I think that they should vote for me as well as my slate, because all of us bring a different perspective to BUSU. A lot of the people who have run in the past have been part of BUSU previously. I think that the three of us, with Matt and Julea not being part of BUSU, and this being my first year in BUSU, I feel that all together we have a different perspective, and we realize things need to be different. Students need to come first, and we have a different way about how we want to do that. We want to be with students the majority of the time so we can figure out what the problems are and stuff like that. We want to make ourselves more available.
MM: I feel like I have a very level-headed way of viewing with things, and I can approach things very diplomatically. I wouldn’t take a side without hearing both sides of the story; I wouldn’t base anything on what I heard first; I would always want to have as much information as I could possibly have before making an informed decision. I’m not just going to make it based off of my own opinion, I’m going to go and ask the students – I’ll hold a forum in SUDS, or go hang out in Forbidden Flavours. I would always make sure that informed decisions get across, and that’s always taking into account the students’ ideas and concerns.
JSS: From my own experience – I’ve been part of a collective for two years – so running for VPE, I’ll have that inside experience. I can say “I’ve been in your position, I know what it’s like to be there, and I’m going to try to help you to make those changes.” I think that’s the biggest thing.
JC: I’ve been around the BUSU block a few times, and I’m pretty comfortable with my way around it at this point. Since I’ve worked for BUSU I’ve heard plenty of student issues at council meetings, senate meetings, and just from talking to students. I really do love it here, and I want to help other students enjoy their time at BU as much as I have, and I will do as much as I can to make that happen. Years spent at university are supposed to be some of the best years of our lives! I want students to look back on these years and know that they made the best of them!
CT: I think I set really realistic goals for what I would accomplish this year, and I think I’ve proven [that] I’ve actually been able to accomplish those. Again, this year, I’m not setting goals that are unrealistic. I mean, you can promise the world, but can you actually deliver? That’s hard to know. I’m really proud of some of the work we’ve done, and I think that it’ll only be better going into a second term, because I have that framework in place. We’re doing some really exciting things, and making really great progress with the university. I would just hope that at the end of the year, students are better having had me as a representative, then not having had me as a representative. That’s up to students at the end of the day to choose, but I think I’ve been really transparent, and honest about not only the good things, but also where I’ve fallen and failed. I think we’ve done some really great things, and I look forward to continuing that.
Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 103, Issue 22, February 26, 2013.