Photo provided by Zahavah Kay
The Strand sat down with Zahavah Kay to discuss her presidential platform, and her potential solutions to change VUSAC’s negative reputation.
The Strand: Why do you feel you are qualified to run for VUSAC president?
Zahavah Kay: I think that I’ve gained a lot of experience as Scarlett and Gold commissioner. I tried to be involved not just in portfolio of event planning but also, to be engaged politically with the process. I think the thing about student politics is that you don’t have to have been part of it to succeed. I think that I benefit a lot from having been on it before in terms of knowing the structure and processes and jargon. It definitely helps. I think I’ve spent the past year noticing things that don’t work as well as they should; things that were meant to serve students but there are aspects where we don’t [do that], or we’re failing. I have ideas on how to fix it. I think that I could make changes that would make VUSAC serve students better. On top of [my] experience, I have ideas that will help VUSAC achieve more of its goal of serving students.
TS: What would you improve from previous years that former presidents have not been able to achieve?
ZK: One thing that I think VUSAC gets critiqued a lot about is being a clique. I think that’s a huge problem. I think that [the fact] that it’s been a consistent critique means that it’s true. We’re meant to serve students. If we’re not even connecting with students, if students are intimidated by the office and by us as a group, we’re failing students because we can’t know what’s going to benefit them if we can’t even talk to them. The VUSAC office is an amazing space but as much as we say it’s a space for all students, it is intimidating. Instead of trying to draw people into the office, I want to draw VUSAC out of the office. I think the office is a great workspace; we have meeting rooms and boardrooms and storage room. I think if we’re going to be socializing, it shouldn’t be in the office. That doesn’t mean it should be a cold, daunting environment. On Tuesday’s, people will go to VOCA Pancakes and then go back to eat them at VUSAC. Why don’t you eat in the Cat’s Eye? Or the Atrium? Why are we centering ourselves in the office when we should be with everybody, people we’re supposed to be representing? That’s a big thing I want to change, I want to make sure that VUSAC isn’t a clique. I don’t think we can do that by drawing people in. We need to get [VUSAC] out.
TS: This year, all the positions are uncontested. The nominated candidates are already VUSAC members. How do you think this will affect VUSAC’s image if the public opinion is already negative?
ZK: I was as shocked as everyone to see how uncontested the positions were. It is disappointing and it says a lot about VUSAC’s reputation. It’s true that a lot of people who are running are on VUSAC and a part of the reason why that is, is because VUSAC is both intimidating and it’s known to be a lot of work. Sometimes, people who feel that it is rewarding and worth it, are people who have been through it, crossed that barrier and done it already. I think that we are going to have to draw on our experiences from before we were on VUSAC. I know there are people running this year who are involved but not necessarily on VUSAC—people who can view VUSAC bubble with an objective eye. I think mainly we’re going to have to draw on experiences before joining VUSAC. I also think the act of VUSAC members getting involved will help prevent this from being a problem in the future. I think that if the idea comes to fruition, people will see VUSAC as much more approachable, much more involved and fun. Hopefully, that will encourage people to run next year.
TS: You mentioned an “opportunities” section on the VUSAC website. How do you think that will benefit VUSAC?
TS: Keeping [the website] active and updated and including a master calendar where clubs and levies can input their events will increase the traffic because people will have a one-click stop of what’s going on each month. If we centralize it in one area, it makes it easier—you don’t have like ten different Facebook groups. I want to add any forms or applications for clubs and levies because right now, it can be quite difficult if you have to access them on different Facebook pages, websites and listservs from each club commission, meaning you already have to know if it’s something you’re interested in. If we put that all in one place, it lets people see every opportunity available to them.