Justin Lo is an independent candidate running for Director of International Student Relations in the 2020 UVSS election. Lo is a third-year economics major from Hong Kong who has lived in Victoria for six years.
What are the three most important aspects of your campaign?
Lo: Inclusion and cohesiveness, promoting multiculturalism, and capping tuition fee hikes. Inclusion is a key aspect to my campaign. Very often, international students are alienated from university politics because they feel like they are under-represented. That is about to change. More than 3 000 international students from over 100 different countries study at UVic, and it is vital that they feel included in the community, especially when it comes to student politics. We must recognize the diversity of our community, and through various programs and events, promote inclusion and cohesiveness in our community by appreciating our multicultural backgrounds. As the candidate for Director of International Students Relations, I am going to call for a lower, more reasonable cap for current international student tuition fee increase, and halting any further plans to increase tuition rates for incoming international students.
What did last year’s board do well, and what did they do poorly?
Lo: I want to praise last year’s board for establishing the International Student Relations Committee and providing international students a way to connect with the UVSS board. I think what last year’s board really lacked was community participation. Given the scale of UVSS, rarely do I ever hear from the board other than the occasional reminders from UVSS about upcoming SAGMs and AGMs. As a ratified club vice-president, I still felt a sense of disconnect with the board and the students’ society as a whole. I believe the board should have been more engaging in terms of student life and hosted more activities that will really bring students together.
How do you plan to improve upon, or do differently, what you feel the previous board has done poorly?
Lo: I think it is crucial to continue the momentum of the International Student Relations Committee, because there is so much potential and room for expansion for the committee. I think just being present at more events will enable me to connect with international students and hear their concerns, and translate that [onto] board meetings and actions taken by the student society.
What compelled you to run in this election?
Lo: Two reasons: first is the increasing marginalization of the international student community, especially given the circumstances in the Asia-Pacific region. As an international student, I have heard about a lot of stigmatization around international students and misinformation surrounding cultural differences. I want to promote the positivity of multiculturalism and the importance of appreciating different cultures. My second reason for running is that I want to be more involved in the community and just help students out to the best of my ability.
What is the biggest issue facing students on campus, and how would you address it if elected?
Lo: I think the biggest issue facing both domestic students and international students is the under-representation of international students on all levels of the student and university governing bodies. I will address this problem by collecting feedback and suggestions from international students and voicing their concerns [to] both the UVSS and the university.
Typically, only about 15 per cent of the student population votes in UVSS elections. How do you intend to raise student participation in student politics or events you would run on campus if elected?
Lo: I think some international students lack the awareness of what is going on around the university and the importance they make in the community. Through the various connections I have, I will encourage international students and domestic students alike to vote in the upcoming election in March and participate in future elections and UVSS events.
What do you think is important for students to know about your campaign and the upcoming elections?
Lo: I want students to know that we’re all in the same boat, and together we can make the best out of our experience at UVic.
Do you think it’s the UVSS’s responsibility to focus on issues outside of just the University of Victoria campus? If not, why? If so, what issues?
Lo: I think UVSS is responsible for issues that are happening both on campus and off campus. Given how interconnected youths and students are with many prominent social issues, it is crucial that students feel represented by the students’ union. Some such issues include the recent protests in support of the Wet’suwet’en people and the growing concerns of climate change.
Voting for the UVSS elections will take place from March 4 to 6. The Martlet and CFUV are co-hosting two election events, the All Candidates and Referenda Forum on March 2 and the Lead Directors Debate on March 3, both at 2:30 in the Vertigo lounge.
This article was updated on Feb. 23 to reflect that Lo is from Hong Kong instead of China, as previously reported. We apologize for this error.