UVSS ELECTIONS | Meet the candidates from Hear UVic

Campus News

Five Lead Directors, 11 Directors-at-Large

From left to right: Victoria Eaton, Dakota McGovern, Jonathan Granirer, Shay lynn Sampson, Juliet Watts

Candidates running for Lead Director (LD) positions

Victoria Eaton — Director of Student Affairs

Jonathan Granirer Director of Outreach and University Relations

Dakota McGovern — Director of Finance and Operations

Shay lynn Sampson — Director of Events

Juliet Watts — Director of Campaigns and Community Relations

Candidates running for Director-at-Large (DaL) positions

Hannah Ahluwalia, Caleb Burd, Caelen Cook, Sarina de Havelyn, Zyannya Fox, Olivia Reid-Friesen, Kai Richins, Jinx Stromquist, Kolin Sutherland-Wilson, Dalal Tubeishat, Jelayna Van Dyke

What are the three most important aspects of your campaign platform?

Watts: Advocacy, affordability, and sustainability.

Granirer: Advocating for increased mental health services on campus, increasing [UVSS] outreach…, lobbying the federal government to remove all taxes on textbooks.

Sampson: Creating fun events for students of all backgrounds and increasing the number of resources that are available for them, increasing advocacy on behalf of students and issues important to them, and bringing events like concerts to the SUB.

Eaton: Making the process of establishing a new club more accessible by creating a template club constitution, examining the restrictions that prohibit clubs and course unions from advertising pub crawls, and looking into creating online room bookings for clubs.

McGovern: Change food service hours to make food services in the SUB more accessible… Monthly events that can lead to substantive job opportunities for students… Increasing transparency of UVSS finances.

What did last year’s board do well and what did they do poorly?

Watts: I respect the board’s decision to donate $1 000 to the Unist’ot’en Camp legal defence fund. This was a bold action which communicates to the university that students are infuriated by the violent actions taken against Indigenous nations. However, it’s been difficult to see the current board [seem to] … only … engage with students when they require their attendance to meet quorum at meetings.

Sampson: The previous board did a good job of bringing events to students to create a positive and helpful environment. There is always room for improvement, specifically [regarding] our responsibility as a student society to have a safe space for reconciliation to grow.

McGovern: Over the last year, I have been very impressed with the UVSS’s commitment to lowering the deficit, which will effectively be zero by the end of this year. The biggest weakness of the UVSS board [seems to be a] lack of energy.

What compelled you to run in this election?

Eaton:  I would like to create a board that listens to students’ concerns and addresses them in a timely manner.

McGovern: I have personally relied on many of the UVSS’s resources and have seen first hand the difference they make. Over the last few years, I have grown increasingly estranged with the direction that the society is taking.

Sampson: I am very passionate about serving the communities I spend time in, and I think that being a part of the UVSS is an amazing opportunity to give back and encourage growth within our institution.

Granirer: I decided to run after I learned how hard it is to become involved with the UVSS. I [joined] the campaigns committee in September, a committee that usually meets bi-weekly, but as of now, I have only attended two meetings because the board does not tell me when they are meeting.  

Watts: I have been frustrated by the lack of action taken by previous UVSS boards on environmental issues. In 2015, a referendum passed with 77 per cent of students in support of the UVSS advocating for UVic to divest from fossil fuels. Since this referendum, very limited action has been taken. The UVSS’s failure to fulfill their responsibility to advocate for [this] is an issue that I’m committed to fixing.

What is the biggest issue students on campus face, and how would you address it if elected?

Sampson: It is important that all students feel safe where they go to school. Issues of inclusivity are important to me personally, and I fully plan on bringing that to the board. An important first step is to recognize these issues and to reach out to different networks within UVic and find solutions to the problems surrounding exclusion.

Eaton: The lack of mental health resources is a big issue for students, so I would like to advocate … for increased availability of counselling services on campus and continue [working] to de-stigmatize accessing these resources.

McGovern: The most prominent issue students face is financial insecurity. The vacancy rates in Victoria are low, and tuition is getting higher. The Hear UVic platform is pushing for a lot of amazing things that will help mitigate costs for students, including lobby work.

How do you intend to raise student participation?

Eaton: Transparency is vital [for student involvement].Giving proper notice and advertising all of our meetings is extremely important to keep the student body engaged.

Granirer: I would like to [raise student participation] by conducting weekly outreach to see what’s on students’ minds and to find out what the UVSS can to do fight for their needs. By involving students in everyday UVSS affairs, we will build connections with students and empower them to become active participants in our student union.

Watts: The board has been neutral on issues of sustainability for too long — it’s time for a change! We can’t expect students to participate in the student union when the issues being addressed aren’t important to them.

What do you think is important for students to know about your campaign and the upcoming elections?

Granirer: It’s so important [to] vote. [The UVSS board] can make a positive impact on the students that we represent, but in order to do that, we need students to be engaged.

McGovern: Hear UVic is offering to bring change to the UVSS and we are going to do that through prioritizing the voices of all students, not just the people who agree with us. If anyone has questions about our platform, values, or goals, please talk to us. We’re listening.

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?

McGovern: The notion that a university is isolated from the broader community is something I want to challenge if elected. For example, housing in our city is costly, and, because of low vacancy rates, students struggle to find places to live. If the UVSS were to attend town hall meetings and advocate for affordable housing off campus, it would directly improve the lives of students.

Watts: Absolutely. Student life doesn’t end when students leave campus and their representatives can’t ignore this. [For example], the divestment movement is much bigger than just removing the over $40 million of student funds invested in fossil fuels.

Is your slate promoting or opposing any referenda?

Sampson: Hear UVic has decided to not take a stance on any referenda put forward during this time, however, the voice of the students is very important to us and we will respect whatever decision they make.

Watts: Hear UVic is not promoting or opposing any referenda — but I personally believe a more pragmatic … approach should have been taken to address the current board’s … opinions on VIPIRG, and do not believe the fee should have been taken to a referendum.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

For more information on the UVSS elections, check out the Martlet’s briefers here and here.