In an ongoing attempt to promote the accessibility of King’s Student Union (KSU) politics, The Watch has worked to provide a non-bias set of interviews of each candidate. Provided below is a list of candidates with interviews about what brought them to running, their plans, and much more.
On Feb. 11th and Feb. 12th, 2020, cast your votes outside Prince Hall.
Levi Clarkson (they/them) is a fourth-year student that plans to graduate with combined honours in Contemporary Studies and Gender and Women’s Studies with a minor in Pop Culture Studies and a certificate in art history and visual culture. They have been active with the King’s Student Union for two years, serving for the past year as president. They have also served many roles throughout their time as a student at King’s, such as being a student representative on the Sexualized Violence Policy Committee, the KSU Finance Committee, and has recently been appointed to the first federally funded national framework to address gender-based violence.
Clarkson’s story is empowering and inspiring, having pushed through adversity to find a strong place in leadership. In the year run-up to running for president, Clarkson was dealing with personal trauma that would cause them to question their place at King’s. “Through that, I gained a lot of the experience that I needed to come into the KSU,” says Clarkson.
They say that what led them to the KSU was a drive to bring personal traumas into their activist life. As a part of the effort towards a Sexualized Violence Policy, Clarkson advocated for the interests of students and continues to push for adequate implementation. They sat on committees to hire the Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer (SVPRO) as well as the Sexualized Violence Policy – Student Liaison.
When asked about the accessibility of KSU politics, Clarkson said that they wanted to work towards a better solution. “I think rerunning for a position is invaluable,” says Clarkson. “Student Unions, in general, have a very high turnover rate. (When rerunning), there isn’t a learning curve, you can fix what you’ve done before.”
Clarkson hopes to work in a possible second term to help ensure that all students have their accessibility needs met within the KSU framework, and to ensure that all students are comfortable on campus. They say that they hope to work to make sure that King’s students know the services that the KSU can offer, such as academic advocacy and tax services.
COMMUNICATIONS VICE PRESIDENT
Victoria Gibbs (She/her) is a first-year student that plans to transition into Political Science in her second year. She is a newcomer to the King’s Student Union but has previously served as a member of the Young Greens of Prince Edward Island, where she was a vital member in establishing what is a very new organization.
Gibbs said that one experience that really pushed her into politics and activism was when she was picked to represent her riding in the provincial legislature for International Day of the Girl. She says that she was proud to sit in the seat of her MLA, the then-current Premier of PEI, and take part in such a great event.
“There was something special about being in that room,” says Gibbs. In conversation about females in politics, representation in general, and the issues which plague the system, Gibbs says that the inspirational moment has stuck with her until this day.
She says that although she has experience, she knows that her voice can’t speak for everyone, and that we need to see each individual viewpoint. It isn’t just getting people elected to her, “it’s about tearing down the roadblocks and ensuring that people can be heard.” She says that she wants to work towards helping people have a platform at King’s through the KSU.
Gibbs says that she wants to work to make sure that students can voice their concerns about the KSU as well. She feels that the KSU needs to try an anonymous form to ensure that students are comfortable bringing up issues when it is needed. She says that, although it shouldn’t be the only option, it is “the best way to make sure that all students are having their needs met and their concerns addressed on campus.”
In regards to KSU social media channels, she wants to make it more accessible for all students. She raises a concern that she feels is often ignored: image descriptions for students with visual impairments. There is now software developed to read image descriptions and photo captions for individuals who are visually impaired, and this is something that Gibbs says hasn’t been utilized as needed.
Gibbs says that the KSU needs to work to ensure that all students are being properly informed about KSU events. It goes beyond just telling people when and where things are for her, the KSU needs to work to make sure that individuals know what the events are too. “My high school never had an anti-oppression workshop,” says Gibbs, citing that students often don’t know what events are and who they are for.
She also says that the KSU needs to work harder to ensure outreach for students off-campus so that they can stay included in the King’s community. “Students are more likely to engage when you engage with students,” says Gibbs. She hopes that they continue to work to get students involved and be a part of the school.
Isabella MacKay (She/her) is a second-year student aiming for combined honours in Contemporary Studies and Physics. She has been a part of the King’s Student Union for a year, serving in the role of Communications Vice President. She served as the Co-President of Youth for Change and Inclusion at her high school in British Columbia and worked to promote environmentalism and awareness.
In her first year, MacKay wasn’t involved in any sort of leadership in her first year, and says she really felt the loss of that. When the election season rolled around that year, she decided that she wanted to run.
She says that she faced a steep learning curve when she was first elected as a newcomer to the KSU. She said that it was worthwhile to work with her co-executive members this year, and what made her task easier is that everyone came in looking to do their very best, and that’s what they expected out of each other.
When asked about how her priorities have changed during her term, she cited Max Weber, a German sociologist whom she had read in CSP. She told me that he said, “a lot of politics is the hard boring of hard boring boards.” She feels that that represents a lot of her job, and that sometimes you need to focus on those tasks that aren’t as flashy to get the real work done.
She says that she set out to redesign the KSU, and feels she has achieved this. She also says that it is her goal to promote and ensure transparency. “That’s going to take a lot more work,” says MacKay.
In a potential second term, she would like to focus on the council more. “That’s a very structured and formal space… you need to get used to a lot of the terminology used,” says MacKay. She says that next year she would want to make takeaway handouts to help sort out the bureaucracy and make it easier to attend and grasp these meetings. She says that she wants to try and make the Executive more accessible so that students know who they are more.
She says that she wants to use social media to help in the process, as well. She says that she wants to “bring the KSU to the students.”`
FINANCE VICE PRESIDENT
Nick Harris (He/him) is a second-year student with combined honours in Political Science and Law, Justice and Society. He has been active with the King’s Student Union for two years, serving in the roles of Arts Representative in his first year and Financial Vice President in his second.
When Harris was in high school, he was in the hospital for almost a year due to an incident in which he almost went blind. This later empowered Harris to share his story of perseverance and forgiveness in public motivational speaking, and try to uplift those around him. He says that because of his past, he now has a clarity that lets him see the beauty in the world. He says that it’s about “taking the time to take things in and make them better.”
He said that coming to King’s as the process of planning and implementing the Sexualized Violence Policy was getting underway really inspired him to want to join the Union. Harris says that a position like Financial Vice President is a position that takes a lot of learning and getting used to, and that’s why he’s excited to run again.
“It’s time to hit the ground running,” says Harris. He says that where he was preoccupied with learning how to do the basics last year, he is now free to help others in their roles. He says that the job is a lot more than just finance to him, it’s about empowering students.
He says that something he truly strives for in his position is transparency with finances. He says that the process that they go through, every step along the way, is to serve students. “If you put things into the hands of students, they feel like it’s theirs. A union requires political participation on a basic level.
When asked what he wanted to end on, Harris said: “Stay tuned, it’s gonna be a good year.”
BOARD OF GOVERNORS REPRESENTATIVE (Position held by two students)
Aideen Reynolds (She/her) is a first-year student and says that she’s interested in doing combined honours in Contemporary Studies and Social Work. She has been a part of the King’s Student Union for one year, serving in the role of Residence Representative.
Reynolds says that her experiences with bullying throughout junior high and high school have caused her to have a thicker skin and taught her how to sharpen her passions into something she can use to promote her activism. She says that it is her goal to fairly represent everyone.
She says that her position as Residence Representative has taught her how to navigate systems at King’s. Reynolds says that she wants to be there when the administration fails to be what students need. She said that she recognizes the privileges she has and wants to fight for those that don’t.
Reynolds says that she spent three years in high school working in a “really progressive theatre department” at her high school in downtown Calgary. She said that working in this has shown her how to combine her activism with her art.
Reynolds says that she is running because she wants to be a politician, and that she is motivated to do something about others’ pain. “it’s really important to me to be able to use the privileges I have to advocate for people,” says Reynolds.
Rylan Pembroke (He/him) is a second-year student in Contemporary Studies and Religious Studies. Due to scheduling conflicts, he could not be reached for a full interview. He has been active with the King’s Student Union for two years, but has not served in an elected role. They have served in various roles in the King’s community, such as the first Sexualized Violence Policy – Student Liaison, a student representative on the implementation committee for the Sexualized Violence Policy, a member on the KSU Bylaw Committee, and holds numerous jobs around campus.
STUDENT LIFE VICE PRESIDENT
Mason Carter (They/them) is a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours). They have been a part of the King’s Student Union for one year, serving as Journalism Representative. They have also served on various cabinets, teams and committees, such as Cumberland Pride and the Amherst Town Council.
Carter is from Amherst Nova Scotia, a small community in Cumberland County, near the border with New Brunswick. Carter identifies as a non-binary student and says that this has largely shaped their life and work. Through their multitude of different activist positions, they have acquired the skills to be, in their opinion, right for the position of Student Life Vice President.
They have worked in their own community to help middle schoolers learn about LGBT issues and sexual health. They say that growing up in a rural community where they have had to carve out their own space gives them a perspective that will help empower students at King’s. They have worked in advocacy campaigns throughout their life, and this led them both to leadership and to journalism.
They say that it will “take a lot of collaboration” to try to make sure that everything is accessible and safe on campus. “I would be just like lots of cross-checking my decisions and making sure that like what I believe to be best in this situation is actually going to be best for the folks there,” says Carter.
Carter says that they want to make sure that student life is beneficial to all students. They see that spaces in Orientation Week this year didn’t represent someone like them very well, and there needs to be more diversity. This could be included in spaces that are quieter and easier to handle to balance out all the fun. They go on to say that “as class picks up and everyone gets hit with the ‘oh my god, FYP is terrible,” they will ideally have a place to fit in.
Carter says a priority is to make sure that events on campus are accessible and appealing on campus.
Hayden Goss (He/him) is a first-year student pursuing a Bachelor of Journalism (Honours). Goss could not be reached for an interview.
EXTERNAL VICE PRESIDENT
Hope Moon (She/her) is a second-year student in doing combined honours in Contemporary Studies and Environmental Science, and on track for a minor in sustainability. She has been a part of the King’s Student Union for two years, serving in the roles of Science Representative in her first year and External Vice President in her second.
She says that growing up in a rural agricultural town in Ontario has shaped her worldview a lot. Moon is an adamant climate activist that recognizes how the problems in her community represent shifts around the world. Moon talks about the gentrification in her community and how it exploits disproportionately migrant workers. “I think that’s often swept under the rug,” says Moon, “especially since people are profiting off it.” She says that she wants to use her education to empower everyone.
She says that after high school she worked as an intern for the British Red Cross and learned event planning and networking skills. She says she worked in a community garden one summer, and says that she loves working in hospitality. “I think that’s why I like tabling so much,” says Moon.
Moon says that they want to work to fix some of their missteps next year and help foster more coordination and collaboration between groups. She says that in the last few years so much new has come at King’s, and she believes that the KSU can offer a sense of stability.