Chairperson candidate 2014: Kayleigh Erickson

Kayleigh Erickson is the chairperson candidate for Vision UVic. She is one of two candidates running for the position. Voting for this election opens March 5, 2014.

What area do you study at UVic?

I’m going into my third year of political science with a minor in sociology.

What made you decide to run for chairperson?

There’s two major reasons as to why I wanted to run for the chairperson position specifically. One, because students feel that there’s a complete lack of engagement with the UVSS and that is because the board has been static over the last couple years. There hasn’t been a lot of change—meaning that students haven’t really been involved in the decision making processes and at the end of the day that leaves students not even sure about what the UVSS does. The second one is because I really want to foster a sense of community. Knowing that 70 per cent of people at the university aren’t from Victoria itself means that we need to do an even better job of making sure that they feel that they’re part of this community.

What makes you the best candidate for this position?

I feel that I am the best candidate for this position for a few reasons. One, I do have experience. I was a director at large for the last year. I served on eight of their committees. I served on an advisory board with the university as well as Senate for the Learning and Teaching Committee and I’ve also been a CL for the last year as well, which means that I’ve had an opportunity to speak with students in years one to four, to work with them to see what has and hasn’t worked in terms of events and campaigns and marketing strategies, and so I feel that I am the best person to be able to implement the changes that they want to see.

What would you do differently from the previous chairperson?

I think the previous chairperson—she did do a great job—however there’s a few little changes that I would make. One is a policy change. I would like to change the harassment policy to be more specific. I want there to be a part in there that talks about the steps they would take that would make things more fair and more objective to students and to clubs on campus. That’s one of the major ones. Another is that the chairperson works on campaigns. Another huge campaign that I would like to see happen in the next year is a mental health campaign. There are two ways we want to do that. One is we want to end the stigma towards mental health. Two, we also want to help finance people with mental health issues that can’t get in to see counsellors at the university.

How do you feel about the UVSS joining up with Divest UVic?

I am absolutely, completely on board with that. I think it’s a fantastic idea especially for the long-term assets of the university. However, there are a few parts of it that I don’t fully agree with. One, I think we need to consult more with students. Right now, it’s just a board of directors decision. However, at the end of the day, it’s the students’ decision so we need to push a referendum for that. There are a few other issues that we don’t fully agree with and that’s just kind of on the implementation of divestment. One, we don’t agree that we should halt and/or freeze immediate assets because, some may argue that by doing that it’s not going to affect finances of students, but there’s always a chance that scholarships and bursaries will be affected and, being a student who has a scholarship myself, that’s not a risk that I’m willing to take. The two other quick ones is just one, again on that kind of financial trend, in the divestment booklet itself, it talks a lot about preventing alumni from making donations to the university. So again, it’s another financial problem that could end up in scholarships not happening for students. And the last one is escalation. Vision UVic does not believe in protesting or in student strikes because we don’t think that that’s productive. We think instead we should focus on collaboration. We should focus on open communication with the university, which will really enhance our relationship with them.

What student campaigns do you want to support?

This year I was on campaigns committee, so I want to continue with the consent campaign. I think that’s such a major campaign for the university. It’s really important. In Res Life, we really stress that as well. Transit, that’s a huge one as well. Having spoken with B.C. Transit and other students on campus, it continues to be an issue. However, again, there’s a little bit of a difference between platforms. On ours, we’re very focused on not spending more on taxes or taking a portion of the carbon tax and putting that towards transit. Instead, B.C. Transit themselves have come up with a solution—just saying that they’re going to take a look at where buses are going and they’re going to switch where high frequency areas are to make sure that they can eliminate transit pass-ups without having us pay more taxes. So those are kind of like the major campaigns and then obviously, the mental health campaign that we would like to start.

How do you feel about reading through and making changes to policy?

I was on policy committee as well this year and last year, when I was asked the same question, I want to be a lawyer in a couple of years. And I want to go to law school and so policy and I—I love it. I’ve read through all of it. I’ve helped implement changes and that’s why, even when I talk about changing the harassment policy, I know it in and out so I’m going to be able to make those changes.

What do you think is the purpose of the UVSS?

The purpose of the UVSS is supposed to be a student-run society for students. It’s supposed to represent students and I think, honestly, in the last couple of years—especially with me being in the board last year—I know that students do not feel represented. Which is exactly why I’m running again. We’re supposed to be here to advocate for the needs of students. We’re supposed to be here to give events to students and the problem is, over the last year that I’ve been on the board, they have been very mediocre events. They’ve also been events that are extremely expensive and being a CL, that’s really frustrating—to see my students come back and say “Kayleigh, I didn’t have a great time at that event. I don’t feel very connected to the UVSS.” And so, over the next year, if I am elected I’m really going to be focusing on marketing events, making sure we’re inclusive of everyone such as international students who right now, after having spoken with them, don’t feel like they’re included whatsoever.

If elected, what are your main goals?

A few of my main goals, like I was talking about, is creating that sense of community. It’s really just restoring faith in the UVSS. The fact that there’s been such a lack of engagement. That, at our last general meeting, only 0.6 per cent of students showed up. That we actually had to go out and buy iPads to try to entice people to show up to that I think just shows such a huge problem. And, having been a CL that works on res-wide programs and works on connecting students, that’s going to be probably my main focus over the next year—making sure that I stick to my platform points and next year, if I decide to run again, I’m able to say to students and be able to be held accountable for what I’ve done.

Where is your favourite place to eat on campus?

Oh, it’s Biblio. I love Biblio. I always go and get hot chocolates and samosas. So every time I go now, they always say, like, oh, we already know what you want. Exact order? Yes.

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