News Profiles

BOG: Candidates promise more communication with students

Five battle it out for two seats alongside university admin.

Eleanor Hornbeck (Photo: Jacob Baker-Kretzmar)

Eleanor Hornbeck is a third-year EMSP and history student. She is the co-president of the EMSP society, which recently hosted the second annual EMSP conference. She is also a member of two Chapel executives, as secretary for the St. Thomas Aquinas Society, and internal coordinator for the St. Andrew’s Mission Society. Finally, she sits on the academic planning committee and the constitutional review committee. 
The Watch: How do you think your other experience at King’s would be relevant to being a BOG rep?
Eleanor Hornbeck: I think that the board of governors position is, for me, fundamentally contingent on context. I think the context of knowing how the school works on an individual level with the students, is extremely important. On campus I also am notoriously ‘around’, which I consider valuable to the vote. I embarrassingly have never missed a Town Hall or a GM, I think it’s super important to have my ears there. I think that having the process of working, for example, on the constitution (the constitutional review committee), where we’re just asking straight-up questions. ‘Does this make sense for our members, and why.’ It’s very cool to deal with it individually, and I think that knowing what my peers feel good about and don’t feel good about is a really valuable perspective to bring to that place, and also having maybe a bit more of a procedural understanding is important. I never expected that reading the constitution of our union would be really cool but it is, I thought that was really fascinating.
Q: Why do you think having student representatives is important?
EH: That is a great question, and I will use an anecdote to answer: there was a man at the conference this weekend, Peter Bryson, and I was speaking to him after and he’s on the Appeal Court of Canada, and he used to be on the board here at King’s, and he was telling me, ‘I am so happy to be here seeing this happen.’  He’s had an extremely successful legal career, but his first passion has always been artistry. I think that you can’t assume like you’re always going to have these kind of discussions with people individually, and it’s a very rare instance that I can talk to one person about those two things (King’s events and the board) at once, and I just want to do that more. I think that merging this kind of abstract ‘men of the boardroom’, with the nitty-gritty, what makes our school work, is a really exciting thing that I want to do. With this strategic enrollment plan and the strategic review, there’s been some really, really cool things that I’ve heard back about it.  At the meeting last week, Fred Vallance-Jones said, ‘I think I’ve learned more about the students in the past hour than I have in my seven years at King’s.’ And it’s so cool that that outlet exists now, but how often does that happen?  I think that this kind of communication is really important because if the students don’t have any kind of interaction with the room in which these big decisions are made, then how is it going to reflect what they need as students?
Q: What personal qualities do you think a BOG rep should have?
EH: I think that a BOG rep should be super-approachable. If they are going to be this voice that’s talking to the big cheeses in charge, then it’s not going to help anyone if that person is also not accessible. I think that having an open mind is important. I think it’s easy to succumb to the authority in that room, if someone is telling you, ‘Here’s this thing and it’s a good thing and here’s why,’ and this person has been doing this job for thirty years of their life, it’s really easy to say ‘Okay, let’s do it.’ But I think that having an open mind in the sort of FYP-y, ‘let’s look at this from every perspective’ type of way, is really important, because then you’re going to see practically, what does this mean, what are the implications. I think it’s also important just to be able to interact socially with these people. It’s one thing to go to early happy hour every Friday, and you know, interact with the students, which I am all about, but I think it’s another thing to be comfortable around the president, around the bursar, and around these other big leaders in our community. And I think that establishing that kind of connection goes a long way.
Profile by Hannah Muhajarine

Jesse Laufer (Photo: Jacob Baker-Kretzmar)

Jesse Laufer says he is ready to “articulate to the board” the needs and concerns of students as board of governors representative. While he’ll still be continuing on with the activism work that he did throughout his run as external vice-president (EVP), his focus will now be going towards critiquing decisions and using the skills he’s honed as EVP to make the board more aware of what actually goes on at King’s.
The Watch: Why make the switch from EVP to board of governors representative (BOG)?
Jesse Laufer: After discussing with my family and academic advisor, I decided that the amount of hours that goes into the exec position was too detrimental to my academics as well as my sanity. I’m on campus quite often for 10 or 11 hours, three or four days out of the week. It’s a lot of work. I love doing it and its great being around (King’s) all the time but I noticed that my grades are definitely starting to slip. When you look at the executive at Dal, a lot of (the executive’s) only take one course and quite often they will fail that one course. I believe some of them have even graduated, so when they do the job they’re not a student.
Q: What changes would you like to see in how the BOG operates?
JL: From a student perspective I would really like to see it continue on running the way it has. I think because there’s only (two) of us on the board and because we have to represent the views of all students it’s really unified. There’s not as much complaining (and) there’s not as much debate because we get our mandate directly from students quite often via council. What I would like to see on the board overall is more student representation and more student voice. We’re (two) of 21 seats I believe so it really doesn’t matter what we say unless we have support from all the faculty and even some of the admin. It’s really hard for us to get anything through. But I don’t know necessarily how we can go about changing that. (The BOG) is outside of student control in terms of its make-up. I would like to see us push for it more and I think that would come in the form of both continuing to work closely on the board but also work critically and then, at more of a grassroots level, see if we can get some mobilization from the student body to ask for at least one or two extra seats to get a big more weight. Ideally, students, faculty and staff would make all the decisions but we’re pretty far away from that now.
Q: How will your experience on the KSU help you with this position?
JL: I think this position has really prepared me for the board in terms of grooming my skills for speaking in a more official manner around more higher up bodies (and) the powers that be as opposed to just students. Last year as the campaigns coordinator, I had a lot of work doing campus organizing and rallying which was great for doing student meetings (and) meetings with the DSU. I’ve sat on government-student roundtable meetings where I’m sitting across from Kelly Regan. Internally, being on the executive I’m aware of most everything that goes on in the campus as a whole since last year. I’m aware of what the motivation has been for everything in the last year so I think that has given me a really good, broad sense of what the views on campus are. The board of governors reps also sit on council and I think I can be very productive on council next year with the background knowledge that would allow me to help out when information is missing or people didn’t write something down that perhaps they should have but it would also allow me to critique decisions. Having a voice on council just to make sure we’re sure of everything we do before it goes to the board or before it goes back to students.
Q: A big part of your run as EVP was your activism work, do you plan to continue that as a BOG rep?
JL: When required, yes. Being on the board doesn’t necessarily inhibit me from doing that. So I would definitely still be around, you would definitely still see me bumming around Action! King’s! and (the KSU office) as much as they’ll let me. I think I might make the switch to more community organizing as opposed to solely campus organizing until the campus organizing becomes necessary. I am a student first and it’s the issues that affect King’s that come before the broader revolution so to speak. Up until very recently, it’s been pretty quiet for campus activism. Short answer: I don’t know what the future will bring but if they need me I’ll be there.
Profile by Jillian Morgan

Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand (Photo: Jacob Baker-Kretzmar)

Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand is a fourth-year HOST student, returning for her fifth year in 2014/2015. She is passionate about sustainability and environmental issues, having been involved with the Student Horticulturalists, the Galley board of directors, and sitting as a youth representative on the Nova Scotia Food Policy Council. She says her interests have since shifted to include social justice and the student movement after being elected to the board of governors (BOG) representative position last year, and getting the chance to attend the Canadian Federation of Students General Meeting, as well as CFS skills events.
The Watch: How has the BOG given you a different perspective on King’s?
Anika Roberts-Stahlbrand: It’s really interesting for me to learn about how the school is governed from the biggest level. There are things you have to think about like finances that are really real, and that’s something that I think as students we’re aware of, but we also don’t think about as much as our own finances. It’s interesting to also learn more about how the board thinks about the finances, and the solutions they propose. Usually raising tuition is also on there as a solution, right, whereas from the student perspective trying to get more government funding would be the number one way to solve financial problems, rather than going to student tuition.
Q: Are there any things beliefs you held going in that have since changed?
AR-S: The biggest thing I learned is that it’s very difficult to make change on the board, a lot of these things are written in. Athough I am pro- more student representation, that’s a very difficult thing to do. So I think what I really learned is that our power as board of governors reps actually comes from all the students. We’re not really there as three people, we’re there as one thousand and whatever, and I realized that my job is really to engage the student body and to show the board that our votes and our words have their backing.
Q: What was your favourite moment of being BOG this year?

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External vice-president
Communications vice-president

AR-S: A highlight was going to the Canadian Federation of Students General Meeting, because you’re there with three hundred other engaged student activists, it was just so rewarding to hear from them, and to share what we’ve done at King’s. Also some of it was enraging, because we had a lot of panels, some of them were on things like rape culture and environmental issues, and how we’re really struggling with that kind of thing, but it was a wonderful combination of enraging and energizing at the same time.
Q: Is there anything you learned that would be applicable next year?
AR-S: I think when I went in last year I had kind of these grand ambitions of change, and I still have these ambitions of change, but I realize more that this power is coming not from me, or from the other two people that end up being on the board, but from engaging the students. So I really put a lot of time in this year, into my Facebook page, and I would go around Prince Hall at lunch and talk to the first-years, I go around the Wardroom at lunch sometimes, and really putting my time into engaging the students, other students. Where we get our power is from you guys, we get elected by you and then it doesn’t stop there.
Profile by Hannah Muhajarine

David Salenieks (Photo: Jacob Baker-Kretzmar)

David Salenieks hopes to achieve two main goals: allow students to opt out of levies before paying them, and upgrade the student ratings of instruction system to a consultation period so students can voice their opinions about their educators.
Salenieks believe that his time at King’s will help him in this position but most importantly he wants to “give something back” to the university that’s done so much for him.
The Watch: What made you want to run for the KSU?
David Salenieks: Initially, the thing that got me thinking about the KSU was looking at my tuition fees and then looking at the fact that I gave them $200 a year and I wanted to justify their spending. So I asked some questions and got some answers and learned more. I thought this was interesting and something I wanted to involve myself in. King’s has given me a lot so I want to give I something back.
Q: How will your time spent at King’s help you in this position?
DS: I’ve learned to think critically if nothing else and I think that’s always important. Also, I’m a student and I have a pretty good understanding of what students want. I don’t want to speak for everybody and of course I’m going to listen to them and do what they want if I am elected.
Q: Why did you choose to run for the board of governors?
DS: When I started thinking I might want to run for an executive position, I learned more about each one and the responsibilities involved. I have to say, the five positions give up an incredible amount of their time and I’m grateful that they do but I don’t think that my contribution to the KSU could be that great.
Q: What would you say are some of the main issues that are affecting Kings students right now?
DS: A lot of people are talking about expenses right now because the KSU is running a deficit and that’s more a structural thing but people are thinking about money a lot. And one thing that I think is problematic is that King’s students pay $102 in levies each year and that’s going to a whole bunch of different organizations. And I agree with a lot of those initiatives but I think it should be the choice of the student to do so. As it stands, you can opt out of one of those organizations and be reimbursed but I think you should be able to opt out up front without paying any money through the KSU.Also, right now we do student ratings of instructors and that’s the main way we have some input about our educators. But I think if there’s going to be any changes to faculty there should be a consultation period with students so there would be an opportunity for students to give a qualitative description of why this person should or should not be re-elected. One thing that I think is problematic about the KSU is that it’s very bureaucratic and that can lead to people not making decisions. If I were to take a position in the KSU, I would be sure to remember what my commitments to the students are and not get caught up in that bureaucratic machinery. I think a lot of people are not convinced that the work the KSU does is that important and having learned a bit more I can see that it does.
Profile by Jillian Morgan

Kathryn Sampson (Photo: Jacob Baker-Kretzmar)

Kathryn Sampson ran for first-year representative in the fall. She hopes to be involved with the KSU throughout her academic career but for now she’s content to help students bridge the gap between them and the Board of Governors. Sampson believes her “fresh perspective” will allow her to do this effectively.
The Watch: What would you bring to the table that’s different than some of the upper-years who are running for this position?
Kathryn Sampson: I have a fresh perspective. I know that’s very cliché but every year new people come in with different situations. I think I’ve been very fortunate to have been raised under two governmental systems, the United States and here. There’s flaws with both but what I’ve learned in the United States and through my education there, there’s definitely some ideas and things I’ve picked up along the way that would influence or help solve a problem in a new ways.
Q: How do you hope to provide a voice that’s representative of the King’s population?
KS: You have your networking system, you have your Facebook, your twitter, your Instagram. You have all those ways of reaching out to people. Personally, I am friends with a lot of day students and I feel sometimes that they’re a little isolated. It’s just networking I think.
Q: What would you say are some of the main issues affecting students on campus right now?
KS: Well, living in Alex Hall I’d have to say the (flooding) or the ‘Lord Nelson Bay Residence.’ I have a lot of friends that are out of their ‘home.’ Also I think that it’s just always trying to keep students connected to the hierarchy of King’s. I’ve looked up the board of governors and I’ve looked up whose on it and I was quite surprised that I didn’t know a lot of the people. I haven’t seen them around, I haven’t met any of them and I think more connection between those people that are representing us and are making the bigger decisions should get to know more of this students. I see George Cooper around all the time and he’s one of the few people I actually do see. I didn’t know who the vice-president was and it took me a while to find out and it was kind of upsetting that I’ve never met that person or been introduced. I think bridging that connection is really important. And in doing that comes the connection with the Dal board of governors because we’re affected a lot by Dal too. So, I’d like to meet them. I’d like to sit down with them and talk to them and maybe have a ‘meet the board of governors’ social.
Q: Do you see yourself continuing on with the KSU after this year?
KS: Yes. I definitely think it’s something everyone should be a part of or at least try to be or show up to this or that or participate in some way because it’s a student government. In high school we had our student government but this is the bigger leagues. I’d like to see myself continuing on and being involved as much as possible in the next few years.
Profile by Jillian Morgan
Note: Candidate Nate Winsor withdrew from the race.

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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