BUSU Candidates Debate Before Election

Vice-President Internal candidate Emily Simon, and presidential candidates Dylan Hoppe and Nick Brown, with RO Krystal Kayne. (Credit: Logan Praznik/The Quill)

Brandon University students listened and posed questions to candidates in the Brandon University Students’ Union debate last Tuesday. The debate gave candidates a chance to state their stances on issues to the student body before the election on Thursday and Friday.

The sole Accessibility Director candidate, Whitney Hodgins referenced the main points she wanted to continue working on as Director from her current term: advocating for students with accessibility needs, breaking down barriers, “especially in regards to stigma,” and creating connections with the campus and the community. Part of her plan, she stated, was to implement an Accessibility Week on top of the pre-existing Mental Health Week.

Megan Stade, sole candidate for Health Studies Director cited wanting to see more student involvement, as well as communication with BUSU, in her faculty, as the reason she was running for the position. She also mentioned advocating for more awareness of student events to foster more student interaction.

Sheree Blacksmith, sole candidate for Indigenous Peoples’ Director, felt a need for “more of an Indigenous voice on campus,” wanting to improve on what was already established in her current term after the 2016 BUSU by-election. She also aimed to not over-extend herself across her many various positions, and put “more time and effort” into her position at BUSU.

Lisa Mizan, sole candidate for Women’s Director, spoke of targeting BU’s in-progress sexual assault policy, claiming that the policy in its current form was not survivor-centred. She also mentioned organization of the Women’s Collective, which she claimed “has fallen apart in the past few years,” safety for women in the community, “especially in the last few months... with all the misogynistic comments happening around the world,” and strengthening ties between the university’s collectives and their respective directors on the BUSU council as her goals.

The sole candidate for Music Director, Brooklyn Friesen, though not available for the debate due to her class schedule, mentioned in her letter of intent that the Faculty of Music “contribute[s] something unique to the university and to the community,” and aimed to share and promote the faculty’s achievements with the rest of the campus, as well as ensuring representation of the faculty in the student union.

Maya Sturrup, sole candidate for Racialized Director, was also unavailable due to her schedule, but stated in her letter of intent that “most discrimination stems from a lack of knowledge, and society’s need to put a label on everything and everyone,” and that education between people of different races, religions and sexual orientations can reveal “common ground we can all relate to.”

The position of Arts Director had two candidates. Aleca Antonakis spoke of wanting to be “a voice for other students,” and wanting to see “different things,” including the formation of more clubs.

Meanwhile, Laura Davidson campaigned on her existing experience in the role, and claimed, “My goal has been, and always will be, providing a strong voice for all arts students on our campus.”

The second contested directorial position was International Director, with candidates Osaretin Saint and Carlos Acuña. Osaretin Saint spoke of implementing cultural and educational activities based around international students, as well as implementing workshops to help international students with their transition.

Meanwhile, Carlos Acuña mentioned his plans of increasing communication with, and advocating for scholarships for international students, as well as events to foster socialization between international students.

Residence Director was the last contested directorial position, with candidate Armando Galindo making a promise to be held to account by his fellow residence students to represent his constituency, as well as wanting to promote socialization of students in residence.

Kristin Smart, meanwhile, spoke of her existing experience in the position, and the creation of more events between residence students and BU’s collectives.

As for executive positions on council, Vice-President Internal remained uncontested, with Emily Simon as its sole candidate. She referred to her experience in high school student government and with other organizations. Her campaign involved increasing awareness of collectives among first-year students, as well as extending the union’s Paw Pass program to businesses in Westman’s rural communities.

Meanwhile, the elections saw two candidates for President: Dylan Hoppe and Nick Brown. Hoppe, the challenging candidate, referred to his experience in business as a student and financial advisor, and campaigned on a principle of letting students have their voices heard through direct democracy in the form of polls to students, as well as combating discrimination by aiding the university’s collectives in their work.

Nick Brown also campaigned for re-election based on his experience. He attested to his time with BUSU’s council, especially his stance against increasing tuition and international differential fees, as well as his work with the university’s new sexual assault policy.

Republished from The Quill print edition, Volume 107, Issue 24, March 7th, 2017.