King's Briefs

Elections 2k15: Green, Kaya run for External VP

Jacob Green

Jacob Green is a first-year FYP student, who appreciates how Boethius examined the materiality of his own existence through his reflective prose and poetry.
From representing the United States and Guatemala in model United Nations conference to participating actively in Debate Club in high school, Jacob loves speaking about the heart of the issues.
Green enthusiastically supports King’s Mental Health Awareness Collective where he supports his peers, and has also dabbled with the Footlights Society.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

In what ways has your experience at King’s informed your decision to run for External Vice-President (EVP)?
“I’ve been very inspired by this community. I mean, when I first came to King’s, I was shocked at how close this community was, and how it cooperated with itself, with all these wonderful active groups. The community shocked me in a distinctly good way. I thought to myself, “Wow, I want to be a part of this!” Specifically, the King’s Mental Health Awareness Collective (KMHAC) is an excellent example of the King’s community in action. That’s actually one of the things that I would like to build on. I’ve seen amazing things here.
What in particular will you be bringing to this position that is new and different?
“I have a real drive to target specific issues that I find are important to me. I have experience in research and development. In high school, I took part in a program called Youth-Led Participatory Action Research (YPAR), which was a university-run study about student behaviour and psychology. The goal was to improve school environment. We targeted bullying culture in particular, and how to deal with that.
What specific skills did you draw from that opportunity?
“Skills like how to organize information and how to plan events. I know how to take large amount of vague information, and how to derive a real solution from that. What we had to do there was take a general issue that we were presented with, like bullying, and we had to decide how to define that. From that we had to figure out a general solution. I plan to bring that skill set right to the executive.
Would you speak to specific plans that you have in mind for next year if you are successful?
“The most prominent is the Dalhousie Counselling situation. It’s severely underfunded. I’ll be blunt here: I have depression. I’ve had it for a while, and it’s really impacted my well-being. I went to Dal Counselling to deal with it, and I found out that it’s a four to eight week wait. That’s ridiculous. It’s obscene that someone should have to wait for mental health support. If you’re throwing up, they give you medication immediately. Within the university system itself, they still think it’s acceptable to stigmatize and underfund mental health resources. There’s a program going on within the Dalhousie Student Union that’s specifically targeting this issue, so I’d definitely try to shift the resources and time of the KSU to combat that issue. In addition, there’s the issue of the Campus Safety Committee which I spoke to Anika (the current EVP) about. The group is just not active this year, which is unfortunate. I know that campus safety is still very much an issue. Rape culture is still very alive on campus. I’d like to work on this with the help of South House. I’ve done some research about what they do, and I think that if we gave them a bigger role we could actually accomplish something. So I’d like to restart that next year.
In relation to Sustainability King’s, do you have any plans regarding how you would work with them next year?
“Aside from continuing to support Divest Dal, which is incredibly important, I’ve also thought about dealing with two issues that have never been dealt with before at King’s that I discovered while I was researching for my campaign for First Year Representative. We don’t know how much money King’s has invested in certain companies. We have no information about what King’s does with its endowment fund. We don’t have access to the Board Investment Committee or the Auditing Committee. It’s not permitted for students to attend either, which is ridiculous because it’s our money, we have a stake in how it’s spent. I’d work with the Administration to get us in the loop, so we can have a say in how our tuition money is being spent.
It sounds as though you put a lot of research and thought into your campaign for First Year Rep. How has that campaign informed the campaign you’re running for EVP, and why are you still so passionate about being involved with the KSU?
So a lot of my drive to run for EVP definitely came from my previous research. I spent hours in various offices, in the KSU, with the administration, trying to figure out what the issues were. The King’s investment policies were one thing that I found. Also it’s the matter of tuition. We just recently had the Day of Action, which I happily and coldly marched in. Nova Scotia has the third highest tuition in Canada. The Memorandum of Understanding negotiations which deal with tuition increase are no longer open to students, and I also want to actively do something to change that. In addition, a lot of my ideas for First Year Rep are still valid. I want to improve access for first years to jobs, and to work with local businesses to help students afford university in alternative ways. That’s something I care about. “

Hannah Kaya

A first-year student, Hannah Kaya has an appreciation for all of the ridiculous existential esoteric authors that she’s read so far in FYP.
An active member of the External Action Committee this semester, she has also been involved with the Platypus Society, Sustainability King’s and the Feminist Collective.
Kaya walked in the People’s Climate March in New York this past autumn, and gleefully dances about advocating for female representation in academia, sexual health, education and safety.

(Photo: Nick Holland/The Watch)

In what ways has your experience at King’s informed your decision to run for External Vice-President (EVP)?
I’ve always been really interested in student politics. I think that when students unite and stand in solidarity, they are able to accomplish unbelievably dramatic things. First semester, I was so FYP-minded, that even though I kind of knew about the student political body…I wasn’t actively engaged. This semester, I knew that the Day of Action was coming up, so I began attending some of the External Action Committee meetings. Everyone was so engaged, passionate, articulate, well-informed, and really really inviting, so it just felt like this fantastic place to go and discuss ideas and to get stuff done. It wasn’t theoretical. It was effecting actual change, which is really exciting to be a part of as a first year student. Being told that you can’t achieve things when you’re young, and then suddenly being surrounded by people who are accomplishing things is incredibly empowering.
What in particular would you be bringing to this position that is new and different?
There are already a lot of campaigns that the school currently is running through the CFS, which are really cool. There’s the “No Means No” campaign (which I personally think should be “Yes Means Yes”, but that’s something I can bring to the board later). There’s “End the Blood Ban” and “Back the Tap!” as well, which I think are incredibly important. What I want to implement next year, which is already in the works, is “It’s No Secret”. This fall there is going be a federal election…so my first focus will be about educating the student body. For most students this will be their first election, and for many it’ll be their first away from their home province. The CFS has already begun the “It’s No Secret” campaign which focuses on party policies with the best education platform. I’d like to encourage discussion and debate and provide students who are new to the election process with information on how to still vote even if they’re away from their home province, what party policies are on other issues that affect students such as environmental issues and economic issues. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed, and this election is particular it is essential to have a non-apathetic student body. Students deserve to be informed, and I will encourage students to look for the party that they feel best fulfills their needs. Something else I want to see are mandatory consent workshops at the beginning of the year, so I would be working with frosh leaders, exec, and faculty on that. I will encourage and empower committees and current activists to be able to effect actual change. I think an emphasis on sexual and mental health will be vital this coming year, with increasing pressure on environmental issues that affect our school and our students. This year we had the day of action. Next year we’ll have more time to focus on a diversity of really cool campaigns that’ll really benefit the student body.
Would you provide some insight on how the EVP differs from the rest of the executive?
“Coming from a place of privilege as a white woman from North America…standing up against racialization and standing in solidarity with aboriginal issues can be tricky. I think it’s important that marginalized groups are empowered to spearhead their own campaigns, with someone with exec know-how and people-power supervising and helping wherever they can. It’s important for me to pass on the megaphone, allow those with less inherited privilege to speak with themselves, knowing they have our full support. The really exciting thing about EVP is that it can deal with real world issues, and engage the student population in campaigns they otherwise might not have been involved in. There’s a lot of room to bring to issues that are raised by the students to the CFS, council, people with real power to mobilize and turn ideas into action. I’m a fiendish Facebook sharer, and a total armchair activist. It’s been driving me crazy. It would be incredible to have the people-power and financial-power to see the change I believe in implemented. The KSU has a reputation for being progressive, and it’s important to me that that is upheld.
What’s something about you that isn’t contained in your platform that you think that students should know about you?
“I’m ridiculously optimistic. I haven’t yet faced this moment of disillusionment that a lot of people talk about. I genuinely don’t think that will ever happen to me. I’m interested in people. I love asking questions, finding out more about things and getting to the heart of the issues. I like listening to intentions and motivations and getting behind them. I’m ridiculously passionate. My entirely family is politically active and I believe so strongly in that, and I’m so used to being ridiculously busy.”

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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