KSU Election 2021: Harris named president

Nick Harris wins solo race with plans to take action to reopen student business and improve mental health coverage, but will have to work hard for student engagement.

The King’s Students’ Union election results are in, and former finance VP Nick Harris will be next year’s president.

After extending the voting period by two days due to low voter turnout, the KSU announced on Facebook Thursday night that Harris is the successful candidate for president. 

Other incoming officers are Kaitlyn MacNeill as student life VP, Sam Sharp as communications VP, Victoria Gibbs as finance VP, and Aideen Reynolds as external VP. Tessa Hill and Miriam MacQuarrie will be serving as the Board of Governors representatives.

“I felt like I put a lot into this campaign… the fact that 90 per cent [of voters] said ‘we’re here for it’ feels really amazing,” Harris said to The Watch in an interview Thursday night. “Thank you to the students of King’s who have put their trust in me, and moreover who have inspired me to put my all into this community.”

Harris served in the position of finance VP for two years before running for president for his final year at King’s. Harris says that he wants to revitalize student business, take action against food insecurity and work with students to promote engagement throughout his term.

“There are things that I really wanna rally students behind, like a provincial food security project, or getting more representation on university committees, or having some fun and bringing us back to this community again,” said Harris.

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In terms of student business, he wants to expand food services, look into larger investments and work on a tiered reopening plan of the Wardroom.

“These are the sort of questions we need to start asking: how can we get student jobs on campus again? How can we make sure people have some sort of income? These are people’s livelihoods that aren’t happening right now.”

Harris says he plans to bring forward a proposal for more mental health funding under the Green Shield health plan at this year’s KSU general meeting.

“It’s a lot more powerful and a lot more productive to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to these things. To me this is an acknowledgment of the deep hurt students are feeling, and it’s doing what I can with the power I have been given by students to make that just a bit better.”

The divide between the Union and students

Dylan Aleck, a second-year journalism student, says he didn’t vote because he doesn’t know what the Union does for him. “I find myself more connected to what the Dal student union is doing… I don’t see [the KSU] doing much for most students.”

Student engagement in this election was low. The final voter turnout was 230 votes — six votes higher than quorum and about 25.6 per cent of King’s students. Some say they were unwilling to vote in the electing, citing that there is a significant disconnect between the student body and the Union.

“I don’t really have a picture-perfect idea of what I want them to do… I just want them to get out to the main student body,” says Aleck. He says he didn’t know there were candidate speeches, and that a main issue with student engagement is that there is a long standing disconnect.

Another second-year journalism student Luke Dyment says that he would vote, but he never heard about it. “I’m trying to limit my time on social media, and I haven’t seen a lot of promotion of it,” said Dyment. He stopped using Instagram a year ago and uses Facebook and Twitter for work.

Harris says he  wants to shake things up to get students involved.

“We’ve basically had a full cohort that hasn’t stepped foot on [a normal] campus,” said Harris. “For me, what it looks like is putting projects together … that create a student union people can understand.”

He says he plans to “stand in the Quad with the megaphone” soon after taking office to drum up student engagement. “I would like residence students to come out and have a socially distanced coffee or hot chocolate and get to know their new exec… I know there has been problems in the past, but all I can ask is for students to give me a chance and see what I can do.”

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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