Meet the KSU candidates

The King’s Student Union elections are in full swing and The Watch wants to help you get to know your candidates. We sat down with the candidates and talked about important issues, community change and their own leadership backgrounds.


Member at Large

Candidate: Brennan McCracken

Year: 1st

Major: Undeclared, currently completing FYP-journalism

Brennan McCracken wants King’s to be accessible to all students, and knows that rising tuition fees negate this. He believes that cuts to budgets and financial uncertainty are putting the things that students love about King’s at risk.

His priority as Member at Large would be to remain open and accessible to all students, especially ones who feel underrepresented or marginalized. He wants to make the already tight-knit community of King’s more inclusive to everyone. McCracken will continue Member at Large office hours and will strive to maintain approachability so that all students can feel comfortable voicing their concerns.

Despite being new to King’s, McCracken understands the KSU and it’s purpose. He’s passionate about King’s and passionate about equity, specifically in education. He’s driven and is excited to bring a fresh perspective to the KSU.

Candidate: Gabriel Goodman

Year: 4th

Major: intends to pursue a degree in History and Economics, with a minor in Political Science.

Gabriel Goodman believes that “we need a union who knows who to mobilize, a union who understands solidarity, and really understands how to bring a community together so that we can really focus our will to achieve very specific gains.” Goodman intends to involve the King’s community in efforts to “put pressure on the provincial government to convert student loans to grants, and to restore funding to post-secondary education”.Goodman would also like to work with the administration to make the board of governor’s proceedings public and open to the student body.

Goodman has a lot of experience in leadership roles in the King’s community. In the past, he’s been involved in organizing the Day of Action for the conversion of student loans to grants, the Platypus Society and the Swing Dance Society. He was also First Year Representative for his class. Goodman loves King’s for its small community and recognizes the unique challenges this affords for both union representatives and administration.

Goodman believes the most important role of the Member at Large is as a social justice advocate. He intends to fill that role and bring the King’s community together through important issues. “Solidarity makes us strong,” he says.


Science Representative

Candidate: Antonia Paquin

Year: 1st

Major: intends to pursue a Combined Honours of Neuroscience and HOST

Antonia Paquin wants to make sure the voices of science students are heard. She’ll focus on communication with the electorate and creating a community where everyone’s needs are met. She’ll use social media to stay connected to the community and hopes to implement monthly meetings where all science students can meet and voice their concerns, as well as socialize with each other. She also wants to organize science study snacks, specifically during mid-term and final exam seasons.

Paquin will strive to make sure science students feel connected to the community as a whole. She will do this through both her understanding of the special needs of students who live off campus, the majority of whom are upper-years, and her appreciation for the first year experience. Paquin finds she thrives in leadership positions and she is excited to bring passion and energy to the position of Science Representative.

Paquin thinks that her involvement in the first year community will be advantageous to her position because she will be able to bring to light questions that first years have. She also believes that first years are a large contributors to the energy of campus events and wants to represent that on the KSU council.

Candidate: Nate Winsor

Year: 4th

Major: Combined Honours of Microbiology and HOST

Nate Winsor knows that a lot of students are concerned about tuition representation and he plans to listen to what they have to say. He knows from his experience on various councils that the science community is sorely represented in tuition talks, and he believes it is important for the community to have a voice to their opinions.

As the Science Representative he will have office hours and he also plans to grow the online presence of the science community through social media. He also plans to make announcements at the beginning of FYP lectures to get first years involved. He wants to “work with first years on first year issues.” He plans to make resources known for transitioning first years and use the upper years to create a sense of community. These resources may include study groups and advising sessions.

Winsor plans to lobby for academic reform in terms of X/Y class credits. Core classes at King’s are often X/Y (meaning they are full-year credits) and this can make it difficult for a science student to format their degree. He personally knows students who have dropped half of their combined honours degree because of this difficulty and hopes to work with the university to remedy this and increase both graduation and retention rates.

Winsor plans to bring his years of experience on the HOST council to the KSU. He was formerly the treasurer and is currently acting president. He also believes his connections to the Dalhousie community through extracurriculars will be advantageous in understanding and promoting the Dal/King’s partnership. He believes his practical experience in academic leadership will benefit the science community as a whole. “At the end of the day I want to make this a better place than it was in my first year by the time that I leave,” he says.

Winsor wants to encourage the science community to vote in this election, as it is important for them to gain fair representation.

Journalism Representative

Candidate: Kristen Thompson

Year: 2nd

Major: intends to complete a Bachelor of Journalism Honours degree with a minor in EMSP

 Kristen Thompson wants to create a community within the school of journalism. She sees that there is a divide and plans to create events that will bring all years together so that students can use each other as assets. Thompson plans to do this by planning “journalism socials” where journalism students can get together, work on stories together and establish connections to benefit each student in their future career. She is also planning advising events for first year students who are struggling with the combination of FYP and J1001.

Thompson plans to be open to all students to ask questions, and stresses the importance of mental health awareness for students. She plans to work with the Member at Large to integrate the journalism community into all mainstream King’s events. “I know I’m only subjected to one community,” she says. “But I’d like to influence them all if possible.”

Leadership skills have always come easily to Thompson, and she participated in student council growing up. She plans to bring a fresh perspective to the KSU. She wants to make sure that every student’s voice is heard.

Thompson encourages all students to vote. “It’s the best way to have your voice heard. If you vote, you have a say.”


Arts Representative

Candidate: Liam Crouse

Year: 4th

Major: Political Science

 Liam Crouse wants to make sure that students have control of what happens in the academic community. He wants the administration to consider the opinions of students when making big decisions. To accomplish this, he wants to give student representatives a vote on faculty council. He is so passionate about this that if it is not accomplished, he plans to organize a day of action to show the administration that all students are serious about this issue.

Crouse wants to move away from the Kings/Dal partnership in the future, and establish King’s as an independent community with its own academic programs and merits. He wants this to start by eradication of the emulation of Dalhousie in the way that the university is run. He believes that we should cut the salaries of higher faculty, lower tuition and take in more students. “For example, students paying $7,000 a year, and having 350 students come in every year, would generate more revenue than 225 students paying $9,000,” he says.

Crouse plans to use his political science degree to the advantage of the students. “I’m basically studying ‘how to get things done,’” he says. He also believes his successful past involvement with 4H, a youth leadership organization, will help him lead the King’s community. He was also top in the province for public speaking and livestock showmanship.

Crouse cares about the King’s community and wants to help bring about positive changes.

Candidate: Melina Zaccaria

Year: 2nd

Major: intends to complete a Combined Honours Degree in French and CSP with a minor in Philosophy

Melina Zaccaria cares about the students’ concerns regarding tuition fees. She plans to keep her constituency informed and educated about tuition decisions and plans to fight for “decreased, or at least not increased, tuition.” She operates under the policy that anyone in council should be huge advocates for tuition reduction.

Curriculum representation is a big issue for a lot of students at King’s and it is one that Zaccaria is passionate about. She worked last school year with Students Advocating for Representative Curricula (SNARC) to create projects like “Women in FYP.” She plans to continue working with them and the academic committee to work towards a curriculum that “does a better job of acknowledging historically oppressed and under-acknowledged groups.”

Zaccaria’s previous experience as Arts Representative is something that she thinks will be beneficial for her this year. She filled the position in her first year and learned about the King’s community through firsthand experience. She knows how to communicate with the King’s community and its supporters. Her involvement in the arts has  given her an understanding what the arts community needs, which would be beneficial should she get the position of Arts Representative.


First Year Representative

Candidate: Ryan Kavanaugh

Year: 1st

Major: Undeclared, currently completing FYP-arts

Ryan Kavanaugh wants to focus on informing the first year population about the inner-workings of the KSU, so that they can make informed decisions and voice educated concerns. He plans to make sure every first year knows who is doing what in their union. “When you’re voting for a union, you’re voting for something that has a huge influence on the school,” he says. “And that’s extremely important to know.”

Kavanaugh also wants to establish open communication among the first year class and their representative. He intends to create a suggestion box for first years to voice their concerns anonymously.

Kavanaugh appreciates the unique community that King’s provides as a small school and intends to service this community as a whole. He is excited to bring a fresh perspective to the KSU.

Candidate: John Osborne

Year: 1st

Major: unknown.

This candidate could not be reached for interview, however here are some key points from his platform:

Osborne has leadership experience in high school student council, volunteering at a local hospital and working at a local bookstore. He has plans to listen to the opinions of other first year students and improve their quality of life on campus as much as possible.

Candidate: Marie Dolcetti-Koros

Year: 1st

Major: Undeclared, currently completing FYP-arts

Marie Dolcetti-Koros wants to make the King’s campus an inclusive and welcoming environment for all first years. She plans to make special efforts to include day students, and students who are not in FYP. She plans to work with other representatives to keep the community bonded together. Dolcetti-Koros would like to keep her electorate informed of events and developments in the King’s community and make sure they are able to voice their opinions about those events.

The current KSU executives have been a huge inspiration to Dolcetti-Koros and they are the reason she’s chosen to get involved in the council. In her four weeks at King’s she’s attended all of the KSU events, including the AGM and the tuition town hall. This has informed her of the current situation at King’s and she would like to extend that message to the rest of the first year community. She’s passionate about King’s as a community and she’s “excited to help or contribute to moving forwards in a direction that is inclusive for everyone.”

Candidate: Julia-Simone Rutgers

Year: 1st

Major: intends to complete a Bachelor of Journalism Honours Degree

Julia-Simone Rutgers cares about open communication between the first year class and its representative. She plans to start running a blog to keep first years informed as well as use social media platforms to hear the opinions of her electorate. She is also excited to talk to her fellow first years about issues or concerns in Sodexo, the quad or after FYP lectures.

Rutgers plans to listen to the community and then implement plans to make the changes that first years want. She’s impressed with how the KSU has been run in previous years and wants to continue the tradition of a council who is responsive to its community.

Rutgers has always been a natural leader, and is comfortable being at the centre of a community and giving others a voice. Rutgers firmly believes that “if you want to make a difference in a community then it’s your responsibility to get up and make that change happen,” which is why she’s getting involved. She loves King’s and wants to bring that passion to the KSU.

Candidate: Katrina Taylor

Year: 1st

Major: Undeclared, currently completing FYP

Katrina Taylor is concerned about rising tuition fees and wants the KSU to work as hard as possible to remedy the current situation. She also wants to encourage students to vote in the federal election to make a change to student life.

She plans to communicate openly with the first year class to institute changes they want and are enthusiastic about.

Growing up, Taylor lived in many different countries, so she knows what it’s like to live in a new place. She wants to use that knowledge to make life for every first year student as comfortable and inclusive as possible. She wants everyone to have a place to call home.

Residence Representative

Candidate: Benn Van Ryn

Year: 1st

Major: Undeclared, currently completing FYP

Benn Van Ryn spent most of his life as an introvert, but then after working a summer job at a camp became comfortable with talking to people, being involved in a community and being a leader. He is passionate about helping others go through a similar journey and become comfortable in their own skin. Van Ryn wants to be available to other students who may be struggling and he hopes that they will come to him in times of need.

He hopes that this year he can organize events like a Quidditch tournament and an interactive art piece in the quad. He also would want people to share their ideas with him, so that the King’s residence population can have events that they are enthusiastic about.

As someone who had trouble getting involved in the past, Van Ryn has an emotional connection to the duties of the job of Residence Representative and is very excited to help other students along the same path.


Voting takes place 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. outside of Prince Hall on Wednesday, October 7th and Thursday, October 8th. Any current King’s student is eligible to vote with the presentation of a valid King’s student I.D.

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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