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Meet your Concordia Student Union candidates

by Kalina Laframboise March 19, 2013 1 comment
Meet your Concordia Student Union candidates

CSU Presidental candidate Melissa Kate Wheeler

Melissa Kate Wheeler – Presidential candidate

Experience:
I’ve done a lot of volunteer work throughout my existence and typically very active in high school up until university where I took a break to focus on my studies for a couple of years. I was CSU secretary — taking minutes at every meeting. This year I am on as an Arts and Science councillor and sit on several committees.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I think I have two fundamental strengths: I see good things in everybody and I think it makes me more approachable. My weaknesses are I think I set a lot of personal goals and don’t always follow through. I have a hard time rolling with the punches when it’s of a personal nature.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
I’d like to really go out and integrate student feedback into our plans. Another thing is visibility and providing opportunities for students at large to get involved. Responsibility and long-term planning, things like student centre can’t be rushed. Smaller-scale projects: promoting spaces that already exist, like the seventh floor CSU lounge needs a facelift.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
There have been some successes this year but this perception that council has been vocal due to personal vendettas. Council has been vocal this year because there is a lot to be vocal about.

Do you feel your team can adequately represent the needs of all students?
Yes. I think that this sort of assumption that students coming from a faculty can accurately represent everyone from that faculty is faulty. I don’t think not having an engineering student will stop us from representing our students.

What will you do to ensure students are sitting on academic bodies?
It’s about visibility. It’s about letting them know what their role is. We’d make sure to come out really, really hard with information everywhere and encourage people to get involved.

Do you think there’s a reason why you’re unopposed?
Students are either disenchanted with the union or don’t know what it is. I think we’ve had an exceptionally bad year at the CSU. My team is strong and we’re quite qualified. It’s about turning it around and giving the students their union and their voice. We really want to encourage people to vote.

VP external and mobilization candidate Caroline Bourbonnière

Caroline Bourbonnière – VP external and mobilization candidate

Experience:
Well, VP external and mobilization involves organizing campaigns, mobilizing people and official spokesperson for the CSU at the provincial level. With my experience at ASFA, I think it will help with the FEUQ while understanding the workings of a federation and what my students want. I have a wealth of experience organizing speaker events, namely ASFA Talks.

Strengths and weaknesses:
My strength is diplomacy. My weakness is when I am invested and deem an event successful, I take it personally when people tell me I haven’t been doing a good job.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
I want to develop a stronger stance with the FEUQ and build a more united voice at Concordia. I want to organize a successful divestment campaign with VP sustainability candidate Ben Prunty.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
I would organize weekly meetings with all faculty executives and CSU executives. That would have solved a lot of communication issues and lack of Fine Arts seats.

If you were approached with a similar situation to the political science petition, how would you react?
That was a particular situation. ASFA voted unanimously on that petition and mandated me to present the petition to faculty council but before you can bring it up to council you need to bring it to steering committee. I was personally caught between following the rules and doing my job properly while maintaining ties between the administration, and what seemed right as a student representative. But I feel that was a great lesson learned for next year since I might be obliged to stand up to administration and I’m definitely not afraid of putting any pressure on the university.

VP clubs and internal candidate James Vaccaro

James Vaccaro – VP clubs and internal candidate

Experience:
I’ve been working for the past year and a half to bring a new club to Concordia, the Political Bouillon. I know how important it is to get back to clubs quickly and with an informed response. As internal, I’ve worked with different parts of student governance and know how organizations work with one another.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I think my strength would be the ability to entertain and idea without necessarily agreeing with it. My biggest weakness is being incredibly focused on what I am doing to the extent that all my focus on that one thing.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
I want to turn the CSU into an organization that student groups and students want to work with and get involved with instead of seeing it as an organization that fails students time and time again.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
When it comes down to it, council was full of dedicated people who wanted to make it work and we sat on committees that never met. Eight executives can do amazing things but the 30 people sitting around the table can do even more amazing things.

Was VP internal your first choice?
I really had trouble picking which portfolio I wanted to work with but it came down to the other teammates. Clubs and internal was about the space issue at Concordia, I really thought students deserved more.

How are you going to make the student centre consultation a success?
It has to be a multi-problem approach, we can’t just throw a survey online and we have to go out and get the information from students. We have to be on our feet and talking to students one on one across both campuses and all faculties.

 

VP Loyola candidate Crystal Harrison

Crystal Harrison – VP Loyola candidate

Experience:
I’ve been on COMS Guild for two years, a councillor for ASFA, as well as two external committees. I bring a direct communication with students.

Strengths and weaknesses:
My strength is definitely my passion for this campus and my spirit and positive attitude in tense situations. My weakness is that I do take things pretty personally.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
I want people to know what is going on here, increase services and let students know that services are here. I want to help with food options. Another smaller thing is lack of printers. Advocacy, HOJO, legal services should be available here.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
It’s hard to answer this. I would change just how negative everything was. It’s just the general attitude of the students because of all of the contention between council and CSU.

What are your plans for the Hive?
I know the Hive café has been this mythical unicorn but everyone talks about making it a reality. We’ll be doing it over summer. Things are pretty much signed off for construction.

Any regrets jumping from ASFA to the CSU?
No, none at all. It was the perfect fit. My heart is in Loyola and the CSU allows me to do all that I truly care about.

VP academic and advocacy candidate Gene Morrow

Gene Morrow – VP academic and advocacy candidate

Experience:
So basically I’ve been sitting on Senate for two years now and that is largely my experience. I’ve been involved with student politics as a Senator in a variety of different ways.

Strengths and weaknesses:
My main strength is probably a very pedantic spirit. For weaknesses, I would say that I overload myself. It’s about being able to manage my time better and limit my scope.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
To co-ordinate between departmental faculty, Senate, and Board of Governors. I’ll be meeting regularly with faculty representatives because that’s what’s coming to Senate. On the advocacy side, it’s something I have a lot less experience in. I’d like to engage students in a discussion about higher education and the theory of e-learning.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
I would have had the correct and most up to date version of the bylaws and standing regulations to everyone. If people are working off the wrong standing regulations, that may explain a lot of this year.

VPAA has admittedly been a contentious position this year, what will you do to change that perspective?
My basic stance is do the job. We’re being elected to work 40 hour weeks and if we do that, do the work we are mandated to do and spend the time in engaging with students and demonstrate we’re doing the work appropriately then it takes a lot of contention out of it.

Is the ineligibility of independent students sitting on Senate something you’d pursue?
Definitely. If I am elected then I will hopefully be talking with both the provost and president about the issue of independent students sitting on Senate. I think infringing upon that right is unfortunate.

VP student life candidate Katrina Caruso

Katrina Caruso – VP student life candidate

Experience:
I’m currently Editor-in-Chief of CUJA, a FASA councillor, [part of the] Clubs and Services committee and I’m also an ex-officio Fine Arts officer for CSU.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I’m organized, I’m responsible and honest and real and don’t [put up with nonsense]. You can count on me to do the job done. My weakness is that I get stressed and I can be a little emotional.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
Working in communications, website, calendar works. As well as just organizing projects in what students really want and actually need. I’d like to collaborate more with students who aren’t involved like JMSB and ENCS.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
Communication is lacking and often at times I’ve been wondering what’s been happening prior to me being on the CSU. I would change accountability because I feel a lot of people aren’t being honest.

How will you act as student faculty liaison with faculty associations?
I like being involved with CASA, ENCS, FASA meetings because they are important and I will bring what they need to the CSU. I’ve never personally seen Alexis Suzuki at my FASA meetings.

Why are you running unopposed?
It’s unfortunate that we can only hear about these open positions the week before, there is a real lack of communication.

VP sustainability candidate Benjamin Prunty

Benjamin Prunty – VP sustainability candidate

Experience:
I have experience in social economy and I’ve been sustainability-minded for a really long time. I’ve been on the sustainability and action fund board this year, involved with Sustainable Concordia and several conferences on sustainability. I’m involved in the Liberal Arts society, ASFA council, councillor for CSU.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I have strong analytical skills and an understanding of sustainability. I’m definitely driven. My weaknesses would be I’m not stretching myself thin which is something I’m working on.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
Basically I’m very interested in the food system at Concordia. Hive Café is something I want to get off the ground and see operating by the fall. I think it’s important to allow students to have a say in where their food comes from and I want to be a part of Concordia’s negotiation process for a new food contract.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
The website is a real problem. There’s a certain lack of transparency when the website isn’t running – I can’t find the bylaws.

How will you make the student centre sustainable?
I don’t know that the student centre exists. I think my role in that is that we do find the right people to make it sustainable. Apparently JMSB is incredibly sustainable so I’m gathering there are a few experts around.

How do you feel about running unopposed?
It’s a sad day for democracy, that’s for sure but I do think that I am qualified so I know I will commit to this project and portfolio.

 

VP finance candidate Scott Carr.

Scott Carr – VP finance candidate

Experience:
I guess I have a very different experience from a lot of the candidates and I’ve been really involved in JMSB. I’ve been involved since I’ve walked into the door and I have a lot of experience in case competitions that has taught me a lot about analytical abilities. It’s about that extra little something that you bring.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I am extremely straightforward, I will tell you what I am thinking and to a certain extent that can play on a positive and a negative.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
There are some structural changes and the first thing I’m going to have to do is learn. I’m going to need to learn a lot and then analyze a lot. I want to assess CUSACorp, its structure, how it operates, its marketing. Then it’s about assessing the students of Concordia and I see them as a target market, and we need to know the needs of our target market.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
I don’t think the CSU has enough business knowledge on board. You can say Keny Toto fulfilled his mandate but at the end of the day it’s about going beyond the basics that are put in front of you.

Do you have a plan for Reggie’s?
I think anyone coming in here saying they have a detailed plan hasn’t done their research and any plan needs to be in pencil because things are going to change. There is a lot of potential there, it’s prime real estate with a lot of access to students and it’s not being utilized.

As you’re the only candidate running opposed, why should students vote for you?
I don’t like to focus on the negatives about the other candidate but I have a lot of experience with businesses, and bringing a diverse experience. I’ve done well. I feel that I’ve worked hard to acquire knowledge and I would like to use that knowledge in a great social meaning.

VP finance Pierre Tardivo

Pierre Tardivo – VP finance candidate

Experience:
Well, I bring three years of business education from JMSB. Then what I bring is my knowledge as a councillor and now, my knowledge about the CSU is quite elaborate. Also, It won’t be a big learning curve of learning day-to-day activities of VP finance. I also sit on the Financial Committee since two weeks ago.

Strengths and weaknesses:
I think my strengths are that I’m easy to work with and that I am diplomatic. I think most of council and most of the execs get along with me and I never really anger people. I guess my weakness is experience.

With your platform, what do you want to change about the CSU?
I’ve been promoting four platform points but there are a lot of things to change. Ethical investments is one — it’s important to remember we represent an image of progress. There are procedural platform points: streamline funding and transparent reports. I would like to change the way we make decisions and would love to come up with a rule of thumb as to how we would accurately fund projects. As for transparent reports, they would be accessible to everyone.

If you could change one thing about this year’s CSU, what would it be?
Well I think not much was done this year. I think there has been a lot of mess ups, and I think that’s widely known. Less petty issues and more collaboration.

Do you have a plan for Reggie’s?
It’s always a very important point for VP finance and I want to take on the challenge. My idea is to hire extremely competent external directors and we need to hire a competent business manager. By controlling the inventory, we would be reducing costs and we would increase sales and have more events. Having food available at Reggie’s would definitely be something I’d consider.

As you’re the only candidate running opposed, why should students vote for you?
This might sound surprising, but I get along with the people running on the current team and there would be a team dynamic if I were working alongside them. In terms of dedication, I’ve been interested in this much longer. I don’t want to slander Scott either, he has a lot of strengths himself but just not the ones I mentioned.

Photos by Marilla Steuter-Martin

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