On September 28, the bi-annual VUSAC Elections Town Hall took place in the Cat’s Eye Student Lounge, giving students a chance to meet their student government candidates and get to know them, and their platforms.
In attendance were 12 of the 13 Councillor candidates, the three Sustainability Commissioner candidates, and the uncontested candidate for the role of Vice President Student Organizations (VPSO). The event opened with statements from all of the candidates, in which they touched upon their past experiences and their reasons for wanting to get involved with VUSAC.
Candidates tackled a variety of challenging topics, including mental health resources, making the Victoria College community more commuter-accessible, and best practices for addressing larger equity issues. Themes of respect, accessible scheduling, and education were discussed throughout the event.
On the topic of providing support for mental health, Councillor candidate Vibhuti Kacholia states that residence Dons should be more directly involved in facilitating conversations: “[The focus should be on] bringing it from a forum standpoint to having closer interactions with people you respect.”
Vic student Maia Kachan asked the candidates how they plan to support trans students in the Victoria community. Many candidates mentioned the need for panel discussions and listening to members of the community who identify as trans. Many also acknowledged their own privilege and desire to educate themselves more in order to educate others.
Starting this year, VUSAC Equity is offering equity training for all club and levy heads, but Nick Shyshkin, VPSO candidate, says “we should have equity training for club and levy members” he continues, “it’s been a bit long overdue.”
A question about tailoring events and initiatives to commuter students transformed into a discussion of commuter safety. With events happening so late at night, safety becomes a large concern for many students who commute. Councillor candidates extended this issue beyond the walls of Victoria College, calling for collaboration with the UTSU.
Ann Marie Elpa, Councillor candidate and commuter student, says that “[VUSAC] should advocate for TTC safety.” Haleema Kahn, Councillor candidate, suggests establishing some sort of “buddy system” for commuters who are going home after events that run late, and puts forward the idea of incorporating that into the Vic app.
Councillor candidate Cameron Davies mentions that commuter students have brought up the issue of transit affordability, and that he would like “to see VUSAC support the UTSU’s push for a transit pass.”
Stephanie Xu, VUSAC’s Chief Returning Officer (CRO), posed the question: “Is it better to be perfect but late, or good and on time?” This question prompted responses addressing the importance of respect and accountability toward the Vic community as a whole.
Photo | Hana Nikčević
Michal Leckie, Sustainability Commissioner candidate, began the answering period by tying the question back to sustainability. She said we need to be good and “on time as in right now.” Leckie said we need to be doing everything that we can; there is no time to wait for a perfect solution.
Alexandra Johnston, Councillor candidate, responds “I think it comes down to respect and impact. You have to respect the people that you’re meeting and their time. They made an effort to be there, so you should, too. If it’s too late, it’s not going to have any impact.”
Transparency was another buzzword this Town Hall, as it often is, with candidates discussing how best to break down the social walls that surround VUSAC. Kathryn Marsland, Councillor candidate, proposes hosting VUSAC open houses periodically, in order to get students into the space and aware of what the council is up to.
The discussions at Town Hall made it clear that Vic students are very much on the same page regarding changes they would like to see happen at Vic this year.
Nick Shyshkin, VPSO candidate, speaks to the ideal relationship between the executive and the rest of VUSAC: “We are a council; we are a team.”
A recording of the event in its entirety can be found on the “VUSAC Elections Forum 2017-2018” Facebook page.
Voting ends Monday October 2nd and results will be available at the VUSAC office and online on October 5th.