1. If you are elected, how will you approach the next stages of the U-Pass adoption?
Christian Pierce, VP external: What we want to do is work with Winnipeg Transit to implement a good U-Pass that works for all students and is a fair assessment for the students. Subsidizing the University of Winnipeg is not in our mandate. We are pro U-Pass, but we want to make sure we have the appropriate opt-outs.
Al Turnbull, president: One of the things we want to do in this process is make sure that there is full disclosure. I think that when people did the referendum they weren’t aware that they were also subsidizing the U of W, and that it actually ended up raising the price of the U-Pass.
2. What appears to you to be the biggest concerns of students? How will you address them if elected?
Susie Ally, VP advocacy: Food is a huge issue for all students on campus – especially resident students and international students. We want to have more affordable food, better food, and more variety. Aramark conversations have started already. It is clear that their contract will soon be coming up. We definitely want to get in on these conversations and start addressing the issues. We want to be able to tell them, “these are the things that students want,” while the contract negotiation process is underway.
Turnbull: I want to point out that we also want to work in a very diplomatic fashion. We want to work assertively, but in conjunction with Aramark, towards a compromise that will please all students.
3. Please outline the core values of your slate – or, what underlying principles will guide your decision-making if elected?
Amanda McMullin, VP internal: Fresh understands what the mandate of the union is supposed to be. Our focus is on the internal things that students can touch, see, and feel on campus. That includes things like parking, food, and student spirit. For us, we want to make sure that we are focusing on things that are internal, and not outstepping the mandate of the union.
Pierce: I want to draw attention to the full disclosure policy. When we bring stuff up to the administration or others that we may be negotiating with, we want to make sure it is on behalf of the students, and not simply what the five executives want to do. That is what I view as a key value for us.
4. Do you expect that your slate will draw voters disproportionately from one locus along the political spectrum? Please explain why or why not.
Thao Lam, VP student services: We’ve decided to remain politically neutral and we want to be as inclusive as possible. We feel that many political issues are external. UMSU should not alienate any of its members. Conversely, it should aim to include all of them.
5. How do you think the university administration could better meet the needs of students? On the other hand, what has the administration done well in the past year? To what extent do you think that your slate can influence administration policy?
McMullin: One thing that the administration has done fantastic in the past is helping the faculty of arts improve its student space. As ASBC president in 2011-2012, I was one of the first students to do a joint financial venture with the dean’s office, arts council, and administration to make renovations. I was a leader in that renovation process, but I had the support of the dean’s office and the physical plant, which made the whole project possible. They opened up a lot of doors for me. They provided a guiding hand to make that possible within a year, which is really hard to do.
Pierce: This past year, the information services technology group has changed their budget from being 70 per cent administrative fees to 70 to 80 per cent student improvement fees. They’ve changed their whole budget and geared it towards students, which is awesome.
Lam: A lot of the members of our slate have worked with the university administration staff before. We’re all level-headed and we’re diplomatic. The main thing here is that we prefer to work with pens and not pitchforks. Our approach is to be assertive but not aggressive to get what we want.
6. Can you share your thoughts on how you predict the health sciences cluster initiative will impact students? What is UMSU’s role to play in this process?
Turnbull: This is obviously a process that central administration is already making a move on. The senate and the board of governors has been in discussion for a while. We’re going to go talk to the impacted students, see how they feel about it, and then make appropriate reactions based on that.
7. If you are elected, what will be your proudest achievement once your term is up?
Pierce: For me, it is definitely going to be campus spirit. That is our big goal. We need to build a community from the ground up, and we are not a top-down slate. We’re very much focused on connecting all the constituencies and bringing them together so that we can have a better sense of community, and overall school pride.
Turnbull: We’re looking at implementing a University Cup system to revitalize traditional, healthy inter-faculty rivalry, where faculties can work together under the same model as the Spirit Cup, which already exists in residences. We want to blow that up to the university level. We want to increase the student experience here at the University of Manitoba, which lacks compared to some other schools across Canada.
Ally: One of my biggest achievements hopefully will be creating support systems, both academically and socially, for international students. It is definitely something that has been worked on over the past couple years within UMSU, but I do believe that if I push hard enough, it is something that can be achieved by the end of my year.
McMullin: One of my most proud accomplishments will hopefully have to do with the new stadium and UMSU businesses. I want to make sure it is student-only on game days, or that students will have priority over the public. Tied into this is parking and making sure every student knows how to get to and from this campus, so that if there are issues we can effectively accommodate them.
Lam: As VP student services, my main portfolio would be dealing with the student groups, and my main goal would be to provide a space for every single student group.
8. What changes need to be made to the delivery of food services at the U of M?
Ally: The end of Aramark’s contract is coming up. The reality is, it will probably still be a large corporation delivering food services on campus, but that does not mean that that company will not be able to provide good alternatives and options for students on campus. So what we definitely do want to do, as has already been said, is pick up the pens, not pitchforks, and work with administration. It might be Aramark again, but Aramark brings other food services on campus, so there is a possibility of them bringing out other options, and more affordable ones.
9. Why is the campus going to be more fun next year?
McMullin: Three quick answers: University Cup, the football stadium, and the Hub. Those are some of our priorities this year.
Turnbull: We are going to try to get all three of those things to be used in conjunction with each other. We really want this University Cup idea to take on a life of its own, to create a snowball effect of making people proud to be members of their respective faculties, members of the union, and members of the University of Manitoba. We think that will spill over into better attendances at games, better attendance at campus functions, and more success for the campus bar.
10. What can your slate do to improve and expand study spaces at the U of M?
Lam: One of our platform points is providing more outlets for students. They are hugely lacking right now. Our campus is not quite up to date. We also want to make existing study spaces cleaner and more comfortable and we want to increase Wi-Fi coverage across campus.
11. What student-relevant issues have been neglected and now need to be addressed?
Turnbull: There should be more conversation about the new stadium and the excitement behind it. I know Bison Sports is excited about it. And I think this is a way to spearhead all these cultural campus spirit ideas that we’ve been discussing.
Also, things need to be kept local. Creating a community at the U of M, not worrying so much about external politics. That’s something that I think hasn’t been talked about. There’s been a little too much focus on things that don’t directly affect students here.
Pierce: We’re going to have a very unique opportunity to have one of the first chances to put a concert in that stadium for students. We really want to make that a fun experience, and I know we have the team to do it. If we are in office, that is something we are going to be working towards from day one.
12. What will you do to ensure that you are always coming as close as possible to representing students as they would like to be represented?
Pierce: As VP external, it will be my job to be our liaison between administration and the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS). This year as communication rep on arts student council, I’ve had a lot of experience meeting with people and conveying that information down the line to students and our councillors. This also touches on our platform point of full disclosure. When we run referendums or campaigns, I’m not going to pick a side. I’m going to lay out the information, and if the students want it they’ll vote for it. It’s not my position. It’s what the students want, and that’s what we’re always going to do.
Ally: We’re such a diverse group of people on this slate. If someone, for example, doesn’t feel comfortable talking to one of the group members, there’s always someone else in the office that you might feel more comfortable with. That will definitely help us represent more students.
13. Are there any campus groups, unions, etc. that you are particularly excited to work with? Why?
Lam: I’m so excited to work with student groups that have been neglected in the past, to ensure that students at-large are aware that they exist, and help increase their recruitment and funding. I want to work with the groups who are looking to increase their presence around campus.
14. Is there anything else I have not asked about that you would like to tell the readers of the Manitoban?
Turnbull: First, I want to make it clear that at this moment, I am speaking on behalf of myself and not anyone else on the slate: next year will be a one-year term if we do win. There will be no worries about re-election for me. That is something I’m excited about because it is going to be my only priority and I think, because of that, I will be motivated to do the best job I can.
15. Maverick, trailblazer, innovator, challenger, visionary, explorer, or rebel?
Turnbull: We talked about this and, on behalf of all of us, we’re none of those. We’re Fresh. We’re here for the students. And that’s what we want to be next year.
The Slate Fresh would like to issue a correction notice regarding the article “UMSU General Election Interview- Fresh Slate,” published on March 4, 2013. Our statements regarding subsidizations and the U-Pass were based on out-dated numbers and do not reflect current negotiations between the universities involved and Winnipeg Transit. As the U-Pass deal is still under negotiation, no cost has been finalized, and a no subsidization of either university has been discussed at any point. We would also like to mention, that without the involvement of the University of Winnipeg, no U-Pass deal could be negotiated. We would also like to apologize for any confusion that was caused by our statements