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Student life: Sam and Wilding clash on internal versus external focus

Communications vice-president Michaela Sam and arts representative Amelia Wilding are on the ballot for KSU student life vice-president.

Michaela Sam (Photo: Sander Ragetli)

Michaela Sam currently sits as communications vice-president in the KSU, and got her first taste of KSU politics as first-year rep. In her time as communications VP, she’s revamped TWAK, worked on the KSU website, established a social media presence and made a name for herself in the KSU office. She’s been very vocal, keeping close communication with King’s administration and proving to be wary of setting precedents, particularly in the early stages of the PowerShift funding. But how will her skills translate from communications to student life? 
The Watch: Do you think that you have a more thorough knowledge of the KSU because of your experience? How does that differ from your opponents?
Michaela Sam: I’ve been both a councilor and an executive member, so I have an idea of what it means to be both. Amelia’s experience is incredibly valid and she has great experience and she’s done amazing things this year. It’s just a very different experience, because being a councilor means you see the day-to-day affairs of the union on a two-week basis. Every two weeks you meet, and you work in between then. Whereas when you’re an executive member, you’re in the office pretty much every day. So you’re dealing with so many other things much more frequently. And then it’s the bigger, institutional stuff—like how do we create a position like the internal coordinator? There’s a process that (we) had to go through to make that, but you only start to learn those things by being around them more often.
W: What prompted you to decide to run for student life vice-president?
MS: I think I spend a lot of time with the computer right now, emailing people, and as much as I love that I want to be able to work with students more directly and I’ve already been able to talk to so many other students campaigning lately. I’ve done a lot of projects I wanted to do as CVP like fix TWAK, and now there’s other things I want to do, like fix the K-Points system.

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W: What are the problems with K-Points right now?
I don’t think that many students know about them. K-Points are essentially there to celebrate all of the wonderful things that happen on this campus. So if you work Patrol—which you do—you get K-Points. 
W: I have K-Points?
You do have K-Points. If you’re an executive member of a society, you get K-Points, if you’re an executive member of the KSU or sit on the KSU you get K-Points. If you do pretty much anything at this school, it can get you k-points. But I don’t think that many people know that, and it’s this really exciting thing and a longstanding tradition of the union that needs to be revitalized. I think it needs to be advertised much earlier, I think we need to have an online form for it—I think it’s huge. I think it’s one tradition of the union that has been lost. I’ve kind of been comparing it to the university right now. We’re talking about the need to grow and move forward, but still maintain our initial sense of what it means to be King’s, and what traditions we hold dear. I think the union kind of needs to take a look at what our traditions are, and what we stand for and really revitalize those aspects.
W: Do you face any challenges?
MS: Any executive is going to face challenges. Something is going to go wrong. Think about it our president left the university this year. It’s been a really weird year. The idea is that you’re trusting the people you elect to stay strong and maintain student interest, and to be able to defend that in the face of all the shit that’s going to go down.

Amelia Wilding (Photo: Alex Estey)

Amelia Wilding is also vying for student life vice-president. Wilding is a political science major who currently sits on KSU council as arts representative and represents King’s in the Dalhousie Arts and Social Sciences Society (DASSS). She has strong ties to the KTS, one of the many societies with which she would be responsible for working as a KSU executive. Wilding has been advocating for improving King’s representation at Dalhousie for most of her term, a fight she intends to continue if elected.
The Watch: What do you think you can bring to the table to persuade voters to vote for you?
Amelia Wilding: I think Michaela’s great. I don’t think it’s one those things that’s awful if it goes one way or another. We both really want it, and would both do a really good job. I think I bring being here as a student and being involved in what I’ve been involved in—next year is my last year at Kings, and I have the motivation to make it the best it can be. I have been a student here for three years, I’ve worked with the registrar’s office, I’ve worked with the advancement office. I’ve worked here with over the summer, I’ve been a frosh leader—and I think that really shows you all the facets of the school and how the school works and what it takes to get things done. You have to know who to go through. Over my time at King’s I’ve been able to figure that out.
W: Michaela Sam talked about how she spends a lot time communicating with people and getting news and events out there.  Do you think that you do the same in your own way?
AW: Absolutely. Even though it’s not an official position, I am present on campus and I like to talk to people about what’s going on. As the arts rep, I started “Arts at King’s,” which is a place where I can put all the events that are happening with societies at King’s and at Dal. I think that being here for three years and knowing people over that, and getting to know people, I feel like communicating on a one-to-one basis is important.
W: Michaela also brought up the problems with K-Points this year. People don’t know how to use them, or what they are—do you think that’s a problem?
AW: I definitely think that it is a problem, in that it is a part of our legacy at King’s. I don’t think it’s the biggest problem we have in front of us—because I mean, really they’re just pieces of metal that show what you’ve been involved with. It is a problem because it is something that people have grown to value, but only a specific set of people know it’s there for them. Having it advertised more, having a thing on the KSU website that clearly outlines how you get points would help, and how many points you get. You get points for being involved with societies, and sports teams and being active on campus in different ways. I didn’t know about it until this year, and I added up all the things I was involved with, and was like “I have enough for a silver K-Point!” Really publicizing it and being like this is something we give back to people who give back to our community, even if it is a little piece of silver.
W: Do you think that your previous experience on the board is easily transferable to the SLVP position?
AW: Yeah, I think that a lot of things I’ve been dealing with as arts rep I want to integrate into what I do with student life. I don’t think I can take “Arts at King’s” and just leave it there, and just have no one deal with it, or deal with my relationship with DASSS. I want that to be part of the SLVP mandate, to work with DASSS, work with societies, and work together.
W: Have you run into any challenges?
AW: Not really, I’ve received pretty positive feedback. One of the things I want to continue working on, which was a big thing when I was running for Arts Rep in September, is creating an alumni-student job database, and I’ve brought that (idea) to the advancement office. Things are happening, but they’re happening slowly. That’s one of the biggest challenges, because that’s something I want to bring to my SLVP job. Part of student life is getting a job: a student’s life goes beyond school. And that’s the biggest challenge—it’s not posed by an exterior force. It’s more like something that’s happening.

By David J. Shuman

David is the current editor-in-chief of The Watch and writes on student issues and events. Find him on Twitter: @DavidJShuman

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