Jesse Laufer is running unopposed for the external vice-president gig. He’s had lots of experience with student activism, and hopes to continue his work on the union exec. We spoke with him this afternoon.
The Watch: What’s the plan?
Jesse Laufer: Well, a couple months ago, Omri offered me a position he wanted to create, called the campaign coordinator. It was about organizing people, getting them ready for campaigns, finding out what campaigns needed to be fought, how to do them, and getting everyone together. I’ve been going to almost all of the Action! King’s. I’ve hosted a few of them myself.
One thing leads to another, when you start getting involved in activism, so it seems. I’m currently working on a student’s rights initiative. I’ve gone to CFS National Conventions, and PowerShift. I’m doing quite a bit of the work that’s already a part of the external vice-president position, just under Omri. So when I found out the position would be vacant next year, I said “oh, it’s right there.” I have experience in most all the fields there, because I’m already working in all of that. I think I have pretty good leadership skills. Fuck it, I’m the best guy for the job.
W: How do you feel about running unopposed?
JL: Two weeks ago, if you had asked me that, I would’ve felt disappointed, because I like competition. I like to win things. Running unopposed is kind of boring. Since I’ve been sick and off the charts for a week, it’s been okay.
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W: With students’ rights, there’s such a broad spectrum of things that fall into that category, and there are so many things that people are passionate about. What are you most passionate about when it comes to student issues?
JL: We get fucked over a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. Look at King’s. We’re paying some of the highest tuition in the country, bar none. And a lot of that is bred in each particular province, with their own population and their own mindset. I did a year of university in BC, and there wasn’t that sense of thick community, which is precisely why I went across the country, I wanted that tight-knit community. That’s how things work best. The bulk of students’ rights is that we need to show the province of Nova Scotia that we are important, and we should not be paying close to $9000 a year in tuition. The biggest thing for students’ rights for me, is to have free and accessible education, for all Canadian citizens. I think that should be across the board.
Now, the CFS will tell you that that should extend to all international students as well. They tie into the same thread. I disagree with that. Canadians should get it first. That’s a good way to centre it. I think it’s something that really needs to get pushed for in this province. The government needs to subsidize education much more in order to get people here. Nova Scotia is a great place. Come here, study here, if you want to learn. It’s widely known that this province is going into the fucking gutter. Let’s be honest here. They’ve jacked up the taxes. There’s a fucking sidewalk tax. That’s the mentality of things here. So many people go to school here, and then leave. Now, I’m only using Nova Scotia as an example, and students’ rights is a national thing, but this is where we’re doing the fighting. Fighting in Ottawa might change Ottawa, but Ottawa can’t change Nova Scotia. That’s where our money goes.
W: As you’ve said, you’ve worked very closely with Omri, and there’s a lot of stuff that you’re already doing that you’d continue to do if elected. What are you going to do differently than the current EVP?
JL: Consolidate. Consolidate a lot of things. I feel like Omri does a great job, but the one thing that should be changed is that he takes on absolutely everything. As you’ve said, students’ rights is a huge thing, and everybody has their particular beef as a student. Let’s face it, students are a huge part of the population. We’re not all the same, we all have our different problems and I think in order to properly campaign anything, you can’t be running six other campaigns. You have to go to the student body and say “here are some of the problems we’re facing.”If there’s ten, what are the big three? If there’s three, what’s the big one? And then you get everyone facing that big one, get everyone riled up, solve it, and move on. If you’re trying to spread your resources across everything, you can get things done, but it’s going to take much longer, everyone’s going to be stressing themselves. You have to focus on what’s important. One thing at a time, not three, four, or five.
Sometimes it’s tough to do that. Right now, we have our small beef with Sodexo, where they’re withholding the contract that they signed behind our backs. We have the Board of Governors, with a five year plan coming in. Those came at us a month apart. We have the resources to take on those two things. But, do we have the resources to take on those two things as well as have a solidified march for free tuition every day? No. There’s too much to go for, and yet we still talk about it, and we still try to go for it. Free tuition is my big thing, but I understand. You’d have to concentrate on just that.