King's Briefs

Elections 2k15: Bryant runs for President

Alex Bryant is a third year student with dual honours in Contemporary Studies and Philosophy. He started his career in the KSU in 2013-2014, when he was the Financial Vice President, and continued this year as the student life vice president.
In his first year, Bryant was heavily involved in the KTS, although now his union duties prevent him from being involved in other societies. However, in his spare time he has been going to Blue Devils games and checking out various Haligonian cafes.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

How do you think that your previous positions in the KSU have prepared you to be President?
“Oh, that’s a great question. So to start with the Financial Vice President here – through that position I was on the Budget Advisory Committee and the University Finance Committee in the year that we kind of realized everything was going to shit. Which was both exciting and really interesting to watch and interact with at the time, because no decisions were being made then but a lot of discussions were happening about what is the next year going to look like for the college, and that year was this year. So while Michaela and the board reps and Emily have been working on that stuff, it has been really interesting to see some of the discussions that were had back then now turn into kind of public discourse. So it will be really interesting for me, if I were to win President, to step back into that and already have all of that context, because a lot of the time, the President only has the Finance Committee or Budget Advisory context second hand. So I’m excited about that part.
“I also really wanted to run for Student Life Vice President based on the work I got to do as Financial Vice President with the societies on campus, and that has turned into something that I really love about Student Life VP, is that I’ve been able to interact with the community in kind of interesting ways through that. So I think I’m really well prepared to do President after this year, having engaged with the athletics community, had more time to work with societies on campus, been able to actually interact with the MFA students in the summer time because I was here.
“Student Life also gave me a year working throughout the summer with the frosh coordinators, which was really awesome and I’m really excited about doing that stuff too, again. I think there’s a lot of stuff we can work on in Frosh again this year, and stuff that we can keep from last year.”
How do you plan to engage with constituents who are not normally that engaged, like the one year bachelor of journalism students, graduate students and international students?
“All 800 of them. Yeah, this is a big part of my campaign. So the BJs, the MJs, the MFAs, the athletes. All the students that probably don’t vote in the elections, that take their full degree at Dal but they’re still King’s students, but still pay us money. This is something that I’ve been wondering about for a long time. And I don’t have an easy answer for it. Because we’ve been struggling with this, at least the whole time I’ve been on the executive, and I bet at least for the last 50 years that the union has been incorporated.
“I think it’s going to be two-fold. So we’re going to need to give these people an actual forum to tell us what they need, and we also have to go to them with that forum. So just because you, say, hold a consultation session doesn’t mean that you’ve been able to advertise it to those people and that they’re even going to come at all. I think it’s going to take a pretty major education campaign over the summertime, and I think it’s going to take a lot of faith-building work on our part, both to learn about what those students do in their day to day, because I don’t think we know and also to go to them and say ‘Hey, here’s what we’d like to do, and we think it would be cool if you got engaged with it.’ That’s probably going to involve work with the journalism rep, it’s probably going to involve work with my friends who are journalists, because I don’t know how we can actually break in there. King’s is a small place, but I think at least the J-School and the HOST, CSP, EMSP divide is dramatic enough that it’s going to take a lot of work. Ultimately I have no idea what it’s going to look like. But I think if we make it a priority across the whole executive rather than just one person working on it, we’ll actually be able to do something about it.”
You said on your Facebook page “navigating how to support the anti-sexism and anti-racism work on campus, without taking control from others on those projects, is something I want to pursue with the executive this year.” How do you plan on accomplishing that?
“Probably by not colonizing the work of those people. So that basically means, like, if there are people doing cool stuff, let’s not go to them and say ‘Hey you could ratify as a society.’ You know. Unless that structure is actually going to work for them. I think a lot of that work is going to be both listening to people doing that kind of work, and looking around campus and trying to find out where it’s happening. And then finding a way to support it that doesn’t involve us, you know, either telling them to ratify as a society or doing something else.
“The easiest way  I can think of doing this is through our budgeting, because we’ve kept having situations this year where unless people ratify as a society we don’t have an easy way to get them money, and that’s often the kind of support they are looking for. Because the students on campus doing that kind of work are well organized and they are passionate, and we know a lot less about the stuff they’re working on than they do. So, sometimes they just need money to buy snacks so they can have more meetings with more people. If they don’t want to ratify as a society then that’s fine, but we need to find a way to give them money. Money is definitely something student life work involves.
“It’s also going to mean publically talking about it too. I know a number of people, especially that are on council, that do a lot of really cool work outside of the union that we don’t talk about very much and we don’t advertise very much, either through TWAK or by bringing it up in council and writing letters of support for stuff like that. So that’s another situation that can happen. South House is also an awesome resource for this, and the Black Student Advising Centre, the Aboriginal Student Centre, which is above South House. We sometimes engage with them – I think Michaela has at least been over to the Black Student Advising Centre this year, and it is on some people’s minds, but I don’t know if we ever attempt to engage in a real conversation with them. That would be, like, what can we do on campus that would support people that might be coming to you to talk about these issues.
“I think maintaining the conversation is going to be the biggest job, because it’s easy to have these one off things like – well, King’s doesn’t really celebrate Black History Month. But it’s easier for us to do these one off events and for people that are being allies to those movements to be like ‘I did that thing this year, I’m going to go back to doing my school work.’ But especially coming in after a number of people that have cared so much about this type of work, I think maintaining the conversation, especially within the executive and councils, is really important.”
Do you feel prepared to sit on the Board of Governors’?
“Right now, absolutely not, because I don’t have a lot of the background that Michaela and the Board of Governors reps do. I think a huge part of our changeover, if I were to win President, would be just learning about board structure and what the board meetings have been like in the past year, and two years and three years have been like. Because a ton of what goes on that the board level is either in camera or confidential until four months later. So, I would like to say I felt prepared, but because they are not open board meetings, I’ve never been able to go one, and I’ve never been able to engage in a conversation at that level.
“The flip side of that is that I think, as someone who’s never been in on board, I’m really well prepared coming into learning about that stuff, because I’ve been in on committees that report to the board. So Finance Committee is a good one, I’m in property grounds and safety right now, but there have been a couple other things. I’ve done a lot of work as FVP and SLVP that goes directly to the board or to George and stuff like that, and I think that at least puts me in a good place to learn really fast.
“Yeah, I’m confident about it, but it’s going to take some work and it’s going to be interesting for me to be learning at the same time as two brand new board of governors’ reps too. Especially going into this year, after all the College Task Force and Long Term Financial Strategy Task Force stuff.”
What is the greatest change you would hope to implement as President?
“So, here’s another non-specific answer to your question. Decentralizing power from the President and then ultimately from the executive. So trying to push a lot of the work that, say, the executive holds very close to their chest out to people that can also do the work. I’ve been trying to do this kind of thing as FVP with the Finance Committee, when we were in conversation about whether or not we should raise the union dues. So a lot of that involved – I would organize the meetings, I would help distribute tasks to people, but the people that were on Finance Committee were actually able to take on the work, because we know a lot of competent people. We have about 1100 competent people around here to do the kind of stuff that five hyper-stressed-out executive members do sometimes.
“The Academic Committee this year has been really awesome because they have been willing to take on work and report on stuff and engage in this conversation. So I think that’s going to be a major focus for me, to make sure that all of the work being done is not split between five people, or 12 people on council. We actually give that agency to students that want to get involved. Because I don’t know if we’re very good at that.”
How would you plan to do that specifically for the work of the President?
“That’s a good question. And I don’t know. So, much in the same way that when I came into SLVP I had some kind of idea of what it was, and realized I was totally wrong. Same thing with FVP. You see people working and you think ‘they do that, that and that.’ I think the President stuff specifically – working with the Galley board of directors, the Wardroom management, the board, umpteen committees that you sit on, stuff like this. I think I’m going to end up, instead of doing tons of work all the time on my own, maybe that will involve doing work with the executive all the time, and then maybe the executive end up pushing more of their work out to the council members. There’s always this problem of the President’s work too, in that the President does work on committees that a lot of the information is confidential and they can’t share it around. So I’m not sure. This is something I really want to talk to Michaela about actually, once the time comes.
“I really think of the President job, and Michaela talks about it this way too and Anna did before her, as the person that helps organize everyone so that they can do cool work. Right. So, if I’m doing my job properly, and say I think I want to do something really cool, I take the idea for that project and give it to someone else to work on if they have room on their plate. I think I’m already doing that kind of decentralizing work. It’s hard to do though, because you come up with projects all the time because you’re doing work all the time, and you want to throw a big party or something. But that’s another one. Student life, I don’t know how you would do, say supervising Frosh coordinators, you can’t really hand that off to somebody else.
“So to answer your question, I’m really not sure yet, that’s tough.”
What’s your favourite thing about King’s?
“What’s my favourite thing about King’s? Hmm.
[28 second pause]
“I’m running for President, I should probably have a faster answer to this question.
“I wasn’t going to go to King’s in the first place. I came to visit my friend Erin when she was in Journalism here, and I thought she was in journalism at Dal. So I was going to go visit Halifax with her. But I got here and immediately dropped the other schools I was going to go to and decided to come here, and I think that’s because everywhere I went people were kind of really invested in the work that they were doing. There’s a whole ton of different work. But like, the badminton team, super into badminton. The people eating in meal hall, all they want to do is talk about Descartes. Or, you know, people that work on the Watch really care about the Watch. Like people care about the stuff that they’re doing and I don’t see that all the time. I think this idea of student apathy I think is such a joke, because everyone I know at King’s cares a lot about something or some things. I don’t know what the word for that is, because saying everyone is super passionate sounds cheesy. But there’s a reason our community is consistently so successful at everything, at the things that we do, or at least the things that we care a lot about. Yeah, I guess people just care about the things they are working on all the time.”
Describe your vision of King’s in five emojis or fewer.

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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