The Strand sat down with the Demand Better slate’s candidates for both Vic Director positions to ask them about how they intend to improve Vic’s relationship with the UTSU, the platforms they’re running on, and why they chose to run.
The Strand: Tell me a little bit about the Demand Better platform?
Jayde: One of the reasons Hambo and I chose to run with Demand Better is because, on top of having a united vision for what the UTSU should look like, we also have our own individual platforms for how we would like to see that new UTSU that we create interact with the divisions that we come from. We are Vic students, we each have our own individual Vic platform.
Hambo: From my perspective, I realized that, as Victoria College students, we don’t see the UTSU presence here in general. My platform is to basically bridge that group—whether that means bringing UTSU events here or making our voices heard, what we think students need. Demand Better approached me pretty late, and they approached with their ground-up idea which I really like.
Jayde: In terms of the bottom-up structuring, that’s something that’s shared across the board with our slate. We also have the experience in the UTSU as a slate to get concrete things done throughout our term as well, in addition to our strong divisional understanding. If you have a look at our platform, we have concrete ways we intend to achieve this bottom-up restructuring. For example, we want to empower the Board of Directors by making sure that executives are not the people heading up committees. We want them to be chaired by non-executive members. This will get Directors more engaged, which will be more representative of a group of people making decisions rather than just the platform being pushed through and the Board of Directors acting as a rubber stamp and not being part of the process.
At Vic, I have four concrete things I want to get done. The first is to establish an online suggestion forum that would be anonymous so that, throughout the term and after, Vic students can provide feedback on what the UTSU is and isn’t doing for them. I’d also like to do outreach with clubs, and sit down with the heads of each club and levy at least once per semester to talk about what it is they need in terms of support and work out very specific ways that the UTSU can help with that. I will be also providing by-monthly video updates. I am a strong believer in transparency and I think that with the state of the student body’s relationship with the UTSU right now, there is not a lot of trust. I want to make sure that people are getting updates on my ability to deliver on our platform. The last thing is that I know that it has been a tough year for marginalized communities. I feel that there is a lack of support, representation, and meaningful action. Part of what I would like to do is work with VUSAC’s equity commission to find meaningful ways to support marginalized communities at Vic, and to find ways to support groups already doing this work.
The Strand: What made you guys want to run for this position?
Hambo: I just felt that the UTSU was not representing us here. We as Vic students should feel more comfortable going to UTSU events. With my experience on VUSAC, I definitely wanted to widen the reach. I’m going into my fourth year, and I’ve barely heard of any vents—not even just with the UTSU but with other clubs. I’m black, and I’m interested in the BSA. I’m on their mailing list and they send out newsletters, but I rarely hear about events. I feel like the UTSU has a role in that. I really just want to get Vic more involved across campus.
Jayde: I felt very alienated from student politics in my first year, and I thought that getting involved with VUSAC would be a route to sort of combat that and widen the approachability of these circles. What I have learned in my time on VUSAC is that this issue extends beyond VUSAC, the culture of student politics is something that is really set by the UTSU. The bottom line is that I love Vic, we have an amazing college and some of the most passionate and wonderful people. It is a shame that we don’t really know what’s going on with the institutional power that is the UTSU and it’s a shame that we have not been able to make it work for us. Its unfortunate, and I would like to change that because we deserve it, we deserve good student government.
Hambo: When people think of the UTSU right now, I don’t think they think about events, they think about how they represent us. This is what we want to change.