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Elections 2k15: Davison, McNally, Polo run for Financial VP

Tom Davison

Tom Davison has (probably) been at King’s longer than you. He studies HOST and has played on the rugby team.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

Why are you running for FVP?
“I’ve seen the funding—or lack of funding, depending on the society— I’ve seen that go around. I’m a student athlete. Also I played four years in rugby and we’re hanging from a thread as it is. So, I completely know what it’s like to not have money available. I want to try to see if I can fix that… The way that money is allocated to different societies might not necessarily be as equitable as it could be.
“Larger societies or, just in general, other societies are getting a little bit more money than they’re actually spending so I kind of want to make it a bit more realistic. My main thing is transparency and communication—that students know what the hell is going on with their money then it’ll make for a lot easier process.
Is sports a big part of your platform?
“Athletics has really dwindled. We’ve got 160 people on average, per year, playing for King’s—not all of them being King’s students but all of them representing King’s. The KSU doesn’t represent them in any which way and that’s something that really bugs me because other than being a student and doing HOST, I’m not actually represented by the KSU. One of the ways I can try to fix that… is to help bring the athletics department back under the KSU.
So are you trying to bring in a new system here?
“I don’t necessarily want to change it around… Fixing the way the levies are set up for The Watch and stuff like that because there’s no way we’re going to be able to fully get rid of the levies, which is what some people want, but if there’s a way to fix them and make it a lot easier so The Watch can keep going and do its thing—have a free press and get the representation with athletics so we can have a larger pot for funding overall.
“It’s most likely going to be updating, rewording here and there. At least for the levies, for the athletics, there’s probably going be a new document. I want to be a part of that because knowing older people doing masters, stuff like that, they don’t remember anyone ever being a student athlete on the KSU executive.
What makes you a good candidate for FVP?
“I’ve been at King’s twice as long as the people running against me. I’ve been around the block many more times than them. I know King’s. I understand King’s in a different capacity, especially with being exposed to the funding issues with the athletics. I sympathize and understand so much more than they possibly could with the societies that I have invested interest in the societies and how they get funded.
“It’s experience in a sense that I’ve lived that reality of “Could we try and do this?” We don’t have any money for that. There’s no way you’re possibly going to be able to get money for that because the way that athletics is funded is completely different and we have to rely on, a lot of the time, just some donations.
Do you have any plans to address the deficit at King’s?
“I feel like the priority is the current student body. Yeah, we have this looming debt over our heads. That’s not a one-year fixer. If I’m able to work it on its way to being fixed, faster than it currently is… then I’ll be happy because there’s no way it’ll be fixed in one year.
How do you plan to stay in touch with your constituents?
“Again, I bring that element to the athletics. And I’m currently living on campus this year. I know a bunch of first-years now—second-years and third-years I’m not as involved with them just because they’re a couple years younger and I was living off campus (at the time), but…technically… I’m a third-year.
“Knowing the societies and a few of the presidents, currently, it goes a long way. So being touch with the people isn’t necessarily going to be the hard part. I think when they want to try to get in touch with the KSU—that’s where everything breaks down.”

 Aidan McNally

 Aidan McNally is a second year student in biology and CSP. She served as one of the Board of Governors representatives this year and has been involved with the King’s Dance Collective.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

You’re going to run for Financial VP. Why?
“This past year I served on the Board of Governors as a student representative, which allowed me to be educated and aware of the University’s financial situation on the board level, and I’m really excited to transfer the knowledge that I got.
“I see the Financial Vice President as holding an important role in advocating for students needs and values in different capacities and different bodies of the administration. Financial Vice President sits on the Budget Advisory committee, they sit on the College Task Force, and the University’s finance committee as a student representative. So throughout my experience as a Board of Governors rep, I feel like I’ve been engaged in conversation with students about their needs and values, and feel comfortable advocating for their needs at an administration level.
Is there anything wrong with the budget that you think needs to be changed at all?
“I want to improve accessibility, and I think that begins with making sure students are comfortable with the budget. A lot of King’s students aren’t very comfortable with numbers, and that would be about making sure they understand where the money’s going and can access that money. Some great work that Emily and Alex have done this past year is society training, to go over how to make a proper funding request, and how to submit that, when to submit on time, and I think that that process of communicating to societies beforehand allows that whole process to go smoother, and then allow them to access that money so they can do the events they want to plan.
Do you think there’s any issues around levied societies, or with levy policy?
“In regards to levied societies right now, I know the current executive has been tasked with updating the levy policy, which was going to be finished before changeover. I’m confident they’re going to be able to work with the levied societies to create a policy that works for everyone, and I’m excited to work with that new policy in the fall. Policies are made so the union and all societies can be accountable to our members, but they’re not meant to be difficult.
What makes you qualified (for the position of FVP)?
“In terms of council experience, I have had a year on council where not only have I been able to see the workings of council, I’ve been able to participate in the capacity of Board of Governors representative. That’s allowed me to advocate for students and what they want at an administration level, and I can take that experience into the realm of finances. I’m aware that budgets are about priorities, I’m aware of the priorities of our students, and I want to make sure the budget reflects that.
What can you bring as FVP to help out the deficit?
“I believe that students’s roles in committees and at the university level, our job is to represent the students, and how decisions that are being made are going to affect the students. I don’t think it’s reasonable to ask, you know, ‘you, student, please solve our financial issues,’ when that’s the responsibility of the administration. However, what I think I can bring to that is knowledge about how decisions being made affect the students, what students want, and am able to represent the students on those bodies.
How do you plan to keep in touch with students, your constituents?
“Right now, the KSU has a very active social media presence. For example, the College Task Force, all the reports are being published on our website, in order for the students to be able to access that. However, already spend a lot of time in the office, I would be spending a lot more time in the office, which has an open door for students to come and ask questions. I think that’s what I want to get to, I want to it be accessible, I want students to come up and feel like they can ask questions if they’re not sure about something, so we can have a face to face conversation and go over, you know, why there is a certain rule or how we can make this event work.
What are your top priorities?
“One of my top priorities is to represent students at the level of college administration with finances and make sure their voices are heard. My second priority is to improve communication between societies and the union, and make sure the union is more accessible to students. My third priority is to bring issues of equity to the realm of finances. We have a lot of discussion on campus about equity issues, and that just cannot be excluded in any part of the college, and I think that’s really important to bring to everything that I do.
“The work that we do with the union is about increasing representation of students and of groups across campus. I think that everyone benefits from hearing a multiplicity of voices, and those voices need to be brought into the conversation. I can use my experience as Board of Governors representative, of being a woman in that kind of environment, and use my experience with that to help bring other voices into the discussions.
“I’m also very into advocating for accessible education. I was very involved with the Day of Action planning. Accessible education needs to be addressed by both sides. That was an action advocating for the government to increase university funding, however, it’s ultimately the administration in the universities that set things such as the increases or implementing fees. So I believe that making sure King’s is accessible to everyone regardless of financial barriers is about having a two-pronged approach.”

Nuala Polo

Nuala Polo is a first-year arts student in the Foundation Year Program. Polo started her foray into the KSU this year by sitting on the Finance Committee.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

What makes a good financial Vice President?
“Definitely somebody with some knowledge of the goings on of the KSU. I was elected for the Finance Committee this year and one of the big responsibilities of the FVP is to head this committee, which has biweekly meetings. So … I’ve sat in on these meetings all year, I understand how they work, I understand the appropriate process, so that’s definitely something that the FVP needs. They need to understand what they’re doing.
“They definitely need to be responsible and determined, because this year is pretty turbulent for finances, especially next year. The college task force met to make a bunch of recommendations on how we can proceed, but next year is definitely going to be a big one in making some tough decisions. So the FVP needs to be strong-willed and determined, and also knowing that they can represent the voice of the students when they are communicating to the administration what we want and what is important for us to maintain when we are going to be making cuts.”
You touched on this a little bit already, but what makes you qualified to be the Financial Vice President?
“I think my experience on the Finance Committee is a big thing. I think also – being in first year, I am a bit newer, which means that I can bring some new ideas to the table. Like, I think something that I want to implement is, as a solution instead of increasing tuition or cutting professors – I know there was talk about getting rid of some sessionals, which is not something that I think is a good idea. I think increasing enrolment is really important, and I know that other universities have student liaisons who go back to their high schools and do some recruiting. I’m from Toronto and I know there’s not a lot of people that have heard of it, and it’s such a unique program, so I think that getting the word out about King’s and trying to increase class sizes – not hugely because I don’t support that either. But FYP enrolment dropped 20 per cent this year and that’s something that we do need to work towards and I think that that’s something that’s really important.
“So, yeah. I guess bringing some new ideas to the table and having a little bit of experience: I do have leadership experience in the past so I know how to communicate my ideas to large groups of people. And I know that as FVP I would be meeting with administration and sometimes even president George Cooper, we would have to sit in on those meetings, so I think that being confident and being able to communicate my ideas is something that I would be able to bring to the table.”
Why are you running?
“I’m running because I’m passionate about the school, and it’s a place I absolutely adore, and there are some problems, especially financially this year that we’re dealing with, so I want to make sure that, as a student, I’m doing everything I can to help the school and that students do have a voice, because it’s a place that I love and I want it to stay this way.”
Obviously we have a bit of bias when asking this question, but how would you address the funding of levied societies?
“I guess something that I’ve actually seen first-hand is there is sometimes miscommunication, which is definitely a problem. So I think that improving communications is definitely important, because societies sometimes don’t know how to apply for proper funding or sometimes they just aren’t really sure about the process. Which is totally understandable because it is kind of complicated. But at the beginning of the year, there’s a society training, so I think it’s important to go a little bit more in depth as to how we fund and how we look over funding requests and what we expected from societies and what they can expect from us. And I think having an open dialogue to also hear suggestions from them about how we can improve the process is really important, because we want to make that as easy and transparent as possible.”
How do you plan to keep in touch with your constituents?
“Well I know that as FVP, we hold office hours, so advertising my office hours. Maybe even having a Facebook page where people can post questions or suggestions, or have an anonymous box in the office if they don’t want to do that so publicly. So through office hours, I guess through social media, through Facebook. Maybe Twitter – I don’t use it yet but I could. And I think that I’m a pretty approachable person, so I guess just making it well known that if anyone ever had any questions I would be there. And if office hours weren’t enough, I would make myself available beyond that.”
Do you have any specific plans that you want to put in place if you’re elected?
“I don’t want to say that I can for sure do this, because I know that there are so many people that you have to check things with, and I obviously don’t want to make empty promises. But things that I would work towards – definitely I think the student liaison I want to work towards and working towards increased enrolment instead of looking at tuition fees or anything to do with letting go of sessionals.
“And I was looking over the recommendations of the College Task Force, and they were recommending five per cent instead of 10 or 20 per cent cuts across the board, because that’s not something that’s feasible for the university. … But when they were looking at what they could cut, not just cutting uniformly, there are certain programs that can afford to lose a little bit more money than others, so kind of taking that into consideration.
“I also want to make sure that I’m adamant about the fact that we can’t increase tuition. Obviously there’s only so much I can do but, communicating that as the popular opinion of the students, and maybe looking over ancillary fees. There was a recommendation to cut the technology fee, which is $100 for this upcoming year, and kind of looking over everything and getting input from the students on what they want. This year we are paying a fee to use the Dalplex, and I think there was a vote on that – but I’m not sure, I don’t think that many students actually use, and having an open dialogue with the students to see what fees are important to them and maybe trying to cut back on some that aren’t so necessary.”
Do you have anything you want to add that I haven’t asked you about?
“I think just the big thing for me is communication, because I’ve seen how many times we want to give money to societies and we can’t. We have a pretty great society budget actually, which is something that’s really special because we want to be able to foster a community, and when societies ask us for money we want to give it to them, because the events they run are so great and engaging in the community. But obviously if we’re asked for funds that are retroactive, so they’ve already been spent, we just can’t give them that money. Or if the forms aren’t filled out correctly, it means we have to go back and talk to them, and sometimes it can take weeks until we can get them the money. So really just improving the communication to make sure that when societies ask us for money we can give it to them, because I think it’s so important to support the societies at our school.”

By David J. Shuman

David is a second-year journalism student at King's, is engagement/news editor of The Watch, and a copy editor of The Pigeon. He writes on student politics, campus happenings, and school news. 

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