The Strand sat down with Alexa Breininger, candidate for Board of Regents in the 2017 VUSAC Spring elections, to discuss her candidacy, and her thoughts on the current state of student politics at Victoria College.
The Strand: What is the Board of Regents, and what would your responsibilities be, should you be elected?
Alexa Breininger: The Board of Regents is the highest governing body at Vic. It’s actually above the President and the Chancellor; it hires [them]. The board is responsible for a lot of the things at Vic concerning the properties that Victoria University owns, things like that. So,, there is the property committee, campus life committee, committee that deals with alumni affairs, things like that.
The student representatives sit on one or two of the subcommittees of the board, and represent the student voice and has a vote on these subcommittees and on the board itself. So it’s just keeping an eye out for student interests and bringing them up to the board that they wouldn’t know about since the board is made up of people who aren’t as in touch with student life. The role of the student representative is to maintain student interest in the high levels of Victoria University.
TS: Why do you feel that you are a good fit for this position specifically?
AB: I was on VUSAC this year, which was my first experience with student politics. I was a councillor, and I’m also on the Victoria College council which is the academic council at Vic. It deals with our special programs, like the Renaissance program, Vic One, Vic One Hundred, and things like that.
I wanted to stay involved in student politics, but as you know I withdrew my VPI candidacy because I want to take on a bit of a smaller role. It is a bit less of a time commitment to be on the board, but it also still has a big impact on Victoria University. I still wanted to have a vote and a voice at Vic.
TS: What led to the decision to withdraw your VPI candidacy?
AB: I was kind of on the fence about it when I decided to run, and then as time progressed I was feeling very stressed about it, and I realized that it wasn’t something I was able to commit my time to right now for a variety of reasons. I knew that if I were to be elected, it would probably just cause me a great deal of stress. And as much as I wanted to do it, and wanted to be in a position to be able to do it, I knew that I wasn’t.
[Board of Regents] is less of a time commitment, but I don’t think that it’s any less important. Obviously being a part of the judiciary on VUSAC is a very, very time consuming role.
TS: What are your thoughts on why there are so few people running in this election?
AB: This has been a very hot topic, and it’s been talked about a lot in the forum on Facebook. Honestly, I think —and I don’t know why this has happened at this point in time specifically—people just don’t feel engaged at all with VUSAC or any of the governing bodies at Vic. I know a lot of people don’t even really know what the Board of Regents or the VCC are, but with VUSAC especially, I think people just don’t care.
I do think one of the biggest problems that we had, especially with elections, was that information wasn’t very easily available. So, when nomination packages were out, a lot of people didn’t know about it. Usually, we post it on our Facebook page, and there are flyers that go up, posters, and things like that, but I know that that has been lacking recently and kind of throughout the year. In terms of promoting VUSAC events and other things, communication has not been really working and people haven’t really known what’s going on.
TS: In light of all this discourse regarding the Vic Bubble and VUSAC as an intimidating space, what was your experience with this when you were getting involved with the council?
AB: I wasn’t going into this year planning on running for Councillor; it was just kind of something that fell into my lap. I didn’t really know what it was last year, honestly. I never went to the VUSAC office and I didn’t really know about the Vic Bubble or any of those things. I don’t know if it was just because I wasn’t aware of it that I didn’t really feel intimidated to run, but I never really felt unsafe or like I wasn’t welcome in that space. Maybe that’s because of certain privileges that I have, but I personally never did.
But I do understand when people are in the VUSAC office, and it is a lot of the same people all the time sitting in that space, just optically from the outside, because of the way you can look in, it can seem like a very physical bubble, and like a clique, so I do very much see that.