UVSS elections are often a struggle between two large slates. This year, only days before nominations were closed, three former members of Refresh UVic broke off and formed their own slate, The Independents. Out of the 37 candidates—all of whom are pining for one of the 17 positions—17 are organized with the Involve UVic slate, 15 are with the Refresh UVic slate, and three with Independents slate.
Where the Refresh and Involve slates both have definitive goals and collective mentalities, the Independents are characterized by individual passions and goals, while working as a team. One point, however, that the three candidates share is the desire to reach out to students and listen to their issues.
Described by Director-at-Large candidate Jade Taylor as the underdogs of the campaign, the three Independent members—Justin Whitehead, running for the position of Chairperson, Jordan Crocker, running for Director of Finance and Operations, and Taylor—were all running with Refresh UVic before forming a slate of three after internal conflicts regarding nominations.
“We decided we would run on our own, instead of not run at all,” said Whitehead. “Even though things didn’t work out with [Refresh UVic], we picked up the pieces and have been having a lot of fun planning our campaign.”
Whitehead has been involved with the student unions of both North Island College as well as Vancouver Island University. He believes that student unions should work for the students. “I want to do what the students want to do with their student union.” After talking with students, he found that there was a consensus of wanting more sustainability on campus, especially in the Student Union Building (SUB).
Fellow slate member Jordan Crocker agrees, saying that the UVSS should serve the interests of its students. “Right now the message we’re trying to get across is, ‘Get involved,’” he said. “We want this to be your UVSS.”
Crocker even suggested the idea of monthly town hall meeting in order to hear suggestions from students directly.
Holding similar views to her colleagues, but with a strong focus on green politics, Taylor’s biggest issue is making a more eco-friendly SUB. “I’d like to get solar panels for the SUB,” she said. “I’m more about reaching out to students and seeing what their concerns are.”
Taylor pointed out that from a campaigning perspective, a larger slate gains a significant advantage as candidates are granted $70 at Zap in order to print campaign posters, as well as an additional $30 from their own pocket. This $100 cap for campaign advertising is strictly enforced. However, in larger slates, this budget can be pooled and used more effectively with many candidates united under a single recognizable brand. Taylor felt that it would be more in the interest of students if there were more than two large slates running for UVSS positions.
Though it has been a highly contested issue, other schools have had issues with slates in the past. For instance, slates—and even slate-like activity—have been banned at UBC since 2005. A 2012 article by the Ubyssey stated that, “An apparent systemic bias against independent candidates and the highly adversarial environment created by competition between slates were the main arguments for banning slates in the AMS.”
Not to be forgotten among all the big and small slates are the final two candidates, Lindsey Willis and Calder Brown. Both these candidates are running for Director-at-Large positions completely independent from any slate, including The Independents.
Brown decided to run in order to create a better university community and hopes that he will see more events on campus. Willis was unable to provide comment by press time.
Correction (2/26/2015): The original article erroneously stated that independent director-at-large candidate Lindsay Willis did not respond to requests for comment. In fact, Willis did not read the email questionnaire as they were sent to the wrong email address due to an incorrect public listing.