By: Zach Geldert
A third-year sociology major, Megan has served on student organizations in different capacities for the past two years. As the secretary of the Soc/Anth society, clubs coordinator of the Student Union, and an NSO group leader, her biggest accomplishments are two initiatives namely the Clubs Cup and the Club Matchmaker.
Her main policy points were increasing on-campus student safety, particularly at Wave events, creating event planning and safety committees, strengthening the Student Union relationship and student awareness of COCA, and improving communication between the Student Union and the student body.
On increasing safety at the Wave, Megan specified that as VPSL, she would focus on improving the training of security staff at the Wave. She also proposed a ‘highlighter’ initiative in which volunteers wearing bright colored shirts, would roam around during events providing safety to anyone who may need it. These ‘highlighters’ would be gathered from the event safety/planning committee.
She also emphasized strengthening the SU’s relationship with the Canadian Organization of Campus Activities (COCA) and the perceived benefits to students. Briefly, COCA is an organization that among other things, brings together VPSLs from all across the country and opportunes them to meet DJs and bands that can be brought to campus. The Cadre questioned Megan on why she believed this would be an important area of focus, being that COCA has no direct connection with students.
The candidate was rather vague in her response, citing the fact that an improved relationship and student awareness of this group would improve student life. She was similarly vague in her approach to improving communication between students and the SU. She believed that improved communication, including being on campus and making the effort to talk with a wide range of persons, would fix the perpetual engagement issue at UPEI.
When pressed for details and techniques that would be used to increase engagement, she diverted, stating that communication was the job of the president and that she did not have a plan. Megan has great ideas, is enthusiastic about engaging with students, and is willing to learn about the parts of the job that she admittedly is lacking in.
The only concern that the Cadre has is the lack of concreteness in some points on her platform, namely the COCA and communication portions.
Rio is a third-year double major in biology and psychology. She cites her experience as a resident life advisor (RLA) as an important part of her decision to run for VPSL. She believes that her experiences interacting with a wide range of persons in her job as RLA will allow her to engage a diverse network of students as VPSL.
Her platform has three pillars: breaking down barriers, student engagement, and health and safety. Breaking down barriers involves creating a more transparent SU that is more approachable. Rio wishes to implement an anonymous text suggestion line that she believes will be beneficial in gathering students’ opinions. She also wants to be “present and pleasant” on campus, personally interacting with as many persons as possible.
The student engagement portion of her platform is the vaguest. The highlights of this section include “reviewing expenditures and uptake of programming” as well as work with Residence Services, Student Affairs, and Athletics to create stronger school spirit at sporting events. When pressed further about the vagueness, Rio was open and honest about the fact that her platform needed some fine tuning.
The health and safety section of her platform focuses on two sub-goals, mental health, and sexual health/sexual assault awareness. The largest goal that she identified in this section was offering more “Bringing in the Bystander” training on campus. This training teaches people how to spot the signs of a potential sexual assault and how to intervene. Rio stressed that “if you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem”. For mental health, she wishes to continue to address the stigma on campus and improve access to and awareness of the services that are available to students on campus.
Rio’s platform goals sound great but do not identify some tangible outcomes that one would expect from a candidate. What is admirable is that Rio did not hide behind more abstract notions when pressed about the shortcoming. Instead, she was forthcoming in admitting her deficiencies and vowed to continue to work hard on her platform as the campaign begins to rev into high gear.
The Cadre hopes that students come out en masse by 7 pm tomorrow at the Wave, to hear for themselves what the candidates have to offer them.