What were your thoughts when you first found out you won the WLUSU presidency?
I was excited! I mean, you work so hard. We started planning for this is in August. We work hard at running a campaign, and coming down to Brantford and getting your face out around Waterloo as much as you can. … We’re pretty happy.
Why did you decide to spend your election day at Brantford instead of Waterloo?
Throughout the campaign, I was down in Brantford about four or five times in the two weeks. Most of the campaign volunteers I have are in Waterloo, and they didn’t really have anybody down in Brantford. The people in Waterloo who were going to vote for me already knew me, and if they weren’t going to vote for me going into the election, they had already…made up their mind. … I was just another blue shirt in terms of being in Waterloo, and I wanted to make it down to talk to Brantford students and see what the issues were and see if we could more people to the polls.
Were you expecting other candidates to come down to Brantford?
No. I don’t think any presidential candidate has ever spent election day down in Brantford. I know I worked on a campaign last year, and I kind of helped out with one the year before, and when I told people about it, they were kind of hesitant to say, “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” I know a lot of people supported me when I was down there. I think it turned out to be a good idea. It was a fun day. I kind of got there just before the power went out and the fire happened. I know you guys had a lot of difficulties that day, but there was still a pretty good turnout from what I heard.
Do you think being in Brantford helped your chances of winning?
I mean, I’m sure it helped. Do I think it won me the election? I don’t think so. I wasn’t really taking the stance of standing in front of the building telling people to go inside and vote for me, I wanted to take a little bit of time and talk to students, and give handouts with my platform. The platform I had and the campaign I ran won me the election, not just standing outside a building telling people to vote.
Tell me about the Pub Planning Committee.
There’s a lot of plans for new buildings in Brantford. …. Whether it’s two years off or four years off, there’s no reason why we can’t sit down at the table now and start planning it, talking about the particulars, how it will look like, looking at locations. It’s going to be very different than the one in Waterloo because it’s going to be integrated into the downtown core, and we need to be careful because you’re going to get a lot of Brantford residents who might want to use that space too, and how you monitor that and ensure that only students are in that pub. We can pretty much come out of it with a report that you can put a plan, and then once the time’s right you can get the campus pub operating.
Why did you decide to include the Pub Planning Committee on the platform?
Every year it’s kind of thrown out there as an empty promise, I’d say. For a few years now it’s been… out there as an attempt to get some Brantford votes. I think it’s time we stopped throwing the words “campus pub” around and actually get down to the table and start doing something. I built the platform around really simple, low-cost initiatives and I think it does that. I’m not coming out and saying “We’re going to have a campus pub by the time I leave office”…but at least we’ll already be on the right track.
The other big Brantford [issue on your platform] is the expansion of Foot Patrol. Why is that a concern for you?
Campus safety has come up a lot this year. I try to follow the Sputnik as much as I can…by going back and reading on the front page about the assaults that happened downtown. There needs to be something done, whether it’s trying to boost Foot Patrol for longer hours, more volunteers, or working with the City of Brantford and Special Constable Service, Brantford Police. Something needs to be done. Because it’s disheartening and discouraging to read the paper and hear about assaults happening in pretty much what is your campus. I know it’s hard to refer to many places as your campus because there’s so much right in the downtown core. But whether it’s your campus or your backyard, students should feel safe when they’re walking around.
Do you have any idea of how you’ll be extending Foot Patrol hours?
It’s going to be a gradual increase. It’s going to be hard from “We’re doing Foot Patrol at 11” this year to next year “we’re going to be doing Foot Patrol until 4 in the morning.” It’s going to be a slow transition, but I’d be happy with an hour or two extension by the end of next year.
Are there any issues currently happening on campus that you think students need to have a stronger voice in?
I sit on two Senate Committees for Waterloo [Information Technology and Instructional Development]. Each Senate Committee for the University has one Undergraduate Representative. And all of them are Waterloo students. Giving Brantford students a seat at the table so they can come and raise issues themselves [is important]. At the end of the day, I’m going to work hard to make sure that Brantford has a voice so I know what’s going on in Brantford. … I don’t really have a feel for what Brantford students are thinking, so that voice gets lost. So the first thing I want to do is get Brantford students more seats.
How would Brantford students get a seat at the Senate?
Working with the University Secretariat. You’d have to reform the membership and that would go to the vote of the Senate…but I don’t know anyone who would vote against that. And that’s going to be a plan for the summer.
So this could happen by September?
Yeah. There’s a window you have to hit, and if it doesn’t happen by September, it won’t happen until the next year.
Talk about the increased Thanksgiving Break.
A lot of universities are starting to do this. What would happen is, you would have an extended holiday by giving students the Tuesday and the Wednesday off as well. … I’ve seen how overwhelming this holiday is, a lot of students take their books home, intend to get work done, need to get work done because it’s midterm season for a lot of students, kind of getting back into the swing of things after summer. It’s an overwhelming holiday, there’s a lot of family, a lot of friends and whatnot. I find most students come back more behind in their schoolwork, more stressed, more tired. A lot of issues arise in that, and pressure and increased drug use. It’s that time in residence that we see a lot of drug use. So I mean taking the two days before the exam schedule that we have set aside and moving those to the end, or maybe sitting down the University administration and looking into other ideas. I think it’s something that the University administration would be very open to talking about and seeing waht we can do.
What’s the timeline for getting this approved?
This would be something that probably wouldn’t apply to students until, hesitant to say, the academic year of 2011-2012 because the Senate’s already approved the schedule for next year.
What are your short-term goals for this year?
At the end of the day, it’s my job to represent students across… the campuses, but I think any past president will tell you this, it can be very difficult at times coming from being a Waterloo student and having offices in Waterloo. It’s really important to have students sitting on those committees and giving the Brantford students their own voice. That would be a big thing for me.
On having monthly meetings in Brantford:
It’s something I’m really committed to and I want to do. I enjoy coming down to Brantford.
What do you enjoy about coming down to Brantford?
Being a Waterloo student for four years, I come down to Brantford and it’s refreshing. Students in Brantford are very passionate about everything they do. … Walking around I see people talking to each other on the street corners. …. Seeing how happy everyone is and how passionate everyone is is really refreshing coming from the Waterloo campus.
What are you most looking forward to?
I think the thing I’m most looking forward to is just getting started on my platform. I mean, it’s easy to sit down and plan everything and whatnot. … I really want to sit down and look at my platform and the other candidate’s platforms, because a lot of them had really good ideas, and maybe build a bigger platform and look at all of them, as opposed to just looking at mine.
In a year from now, when you’re transitioning the next President, what do you want your legacy as WLUSU President to be?
I think throughout the campaign a lot of people identified with me as being a laid-back candidate and very visible, and someone who didn’t really take that politician approach during the campaign period. It’s not about dressing up in suits or ties or anything, it’s just about talking to people and making those connections. So, I guess if I wanted one legacy to be, it would be visibility on campus, in Waterloo or in Brantford. …. I just want to get down to work really quickly.