Winter election speeches
On Thursday, Jan. 23, MASU held speeches for the winter election at the Pond. Open positions included MASU president, VP of academic affairs, VP of student life and VP of external affairs.
The first speech was given by Jonathan Ferguson, a fourth-year international relations student running for MASU president. Ferguson is the president of the Model UN society and on the executive of Mt. A’s International Relations and Political Science Society. Ferguson was not present at the event due to a Model UN conference in Montreal, but organizers played a video of his speech.
One of Ferguson’s main focuses for his campaign was the environment: “We are living in a climate crisis and we have the obligation to act, and there are so many concrete important steps we can take as the students at Mt. A to do so.”
He said he plans on reducing Mt. A’s environmental footprint by “offsetting the carbon emissions produced by the student union offices. Another [step] is being more selective about which events across the country are worth executive travel to. On top of this, more can be done during Orientation Week to promote living a green life on campus.”
The second candidate running for president was Micci Davy. Davy is a fourth-year sociology student as well as the Shinerama campaign chair, coordinator with the Smile program and stage manager for Garnet and Gold. Davy has been with MASU since her first year, doing Orientation planning and working with the SHARE program.
Davy believes that MASU should be more accessible to students. If elected, she would work on transparency.
“I believe an organization is only as strong as the public’s ability to understand and access it,” she said. “We all know that there are tons of opportunities designed to attract everyone on campus, but it is important that students are actually aware and actually understand how they can get involved. MASU shouldn’t be confined to people who have MASU positions.”
Next came the speeches for the candidates running for VP of academic affairs.
First was Khandra Barrett, a second-year chemistry and biochemistry student.
Barrett explained her plans for working towards a more environmentally sustainable Mt. A. “I will advocate working with faculty and students to reduce the amount of paper waste that Mount Allison produces,” said Barrett.
She also wants to work towards a standardized grading system. “This will ensure that an A in any class has the same numerical value across all disciplines,” she said.
Lastly, Barrett argued that textbooks can be costly and wants to add more textbooks on course reserve: “I will advocate for there to be more textbooks on course reserve at the library. The amount of textbooks on course reserve at the library should be proportional to the class size.”
The second candidate for VP of academic affairs was Charlie Burke, a second-year biochemistry student and MASU councillor-at-large.
Burke wants to improve communication between students and MASU. She said, “I plan on doing this by holding society caucus meetings with all presidents of all academic societies on a biannual basis.
“I plan on working towards a more efficient academic experience for all students. With recent revision of the distribution system, I plan on working with senate to look at both systems to create a system that better benefits all students,” said Burke.
Next spoke the candidates for VP of student life. The first to speak was Justin Hughes, who is a third-year computer science major and the current social chair of Edwards House.
Hughes wants to increase pay for the house staff in residences.
“At Mount Allison, RAs get paid around $3,300 a year and AcMen get paid $1,400 a year,” he said. “This is about the worst in the country. I think it is time to change that.”
Venna Penney, the current VP of student life, spoke next. Penney is a third-year biochemistry and psychology student advocating for physical accessibility on campus: “Our campus is supremely inaccessible, and I hope to continue to advocate towards allocating funding towards building upgrades.”
Penney also plans on increasing mental health support. “I would also like to push a hire of a full-time psychologist in order to address the needs of students in terms of mental health services here on campus,” she said.
Eamon McCarron, a third-year math and computer science major and the Hunton House academic mentor, is also running for VP of student life
“Every year we have fewer people staying in residence,” he said. “MASU needs to make improving residence a priority. There is a fundamental disconnect between students and Student Life.” He plans on improving communication between the two.
The first VP of external affairs candidate to speak was Sydney Thorburn, a third-year international relations major and the president of the International Relations and Political Science Society.
Thorburn plans on working with local landlords to implement a recycling system for apartment buildings: “Something so simple and so widely wanted can have a large impact on building a greener community at Mt. A,” she said.
Thorburn also plans on advocating for more student aid: “Specifically within New Brunswick, financial aid for local and international students is becoming increasingly limited.”
Emma Jacobson, a third-year international relations major running for VP of external affairs, spoke next. Jacobson has been working with the MASU since her first year: she has sat on several committees and helped with the Get Out the Vote campaign this past fall.
“Finding housing in Sackville is, to say the least, stressful,” said Jacobson. “There’s a lot of great options, but finding these options can be really difficult.” She wants to improve this by updating the MASU housing directory. “Through updating the locations and contact information for landlords, I’m hoping we can make the process a little bit easier.”
The MASU elections took place between Tuesday, Jan. 28 and Wednesday, Jan. 29. Results were announced on Thursday morning. The elected positions are as follows: Jonathan Ferguson to president, Charlie Burke to VP academic affairs, Venna Penney to VP student life and Sydney Thorburn to VP external affairs.