One of the two new slates to emerge in the face of the upcoming election is the Alliance Party. The Omega sat down with Fraser Barclay who is running for TRUSU president as well as Andrew Sahaydak, a nominee for VP services.
“We’ve observed a lot of improvements that we believe should be undertaken by the Students’ Union. Specifically, that starts with more transparency within student government. A lot of people don’t even know what the student union is and there’s a lot of opportunity to make a good impression and make a good relationship with students,” Sahaydak told The Omega, outlining a primary goal for the party.
“For instance, there’s a lack of services on campus,” Sahaydak continued. “And they’re not really being dealt with, so one of the positions I have developed as a services nominee would be having a talent wall. Essentially what that would be is, we have the student registry right now, but there’s no place for people to get their services and for people to market themselves or their services like tutoring or web design, there’s so much untapped potential at this university.”
Second on the list for the party is to explore ways to reduce ancillary fees for students, while making some of the current services for students more efficient while not straining their pockets.
“A full-time student here pays $189/semester in fees that go directly to the Students’ Union,” Barclay said on the topic of TRUSU fees. “University budgets are kind of notorious for getting inflated over time so I think if you can look through [the budget] to a line-by-line basis and just have to justify what’s going on then yeah, it’s something to look into.”
Amongst the biggest fish to fry on the slate’s agenda is the superfluous nature of the bus pass system.
“I think TRUSU pays something like $850,000 or so for them, and that’s by far the largest expense. So what I’m curious about, I’m not going to axe the bus pass or anything, but I’d be curious to know to what extent can this go. If you’re bussing to campus that’s great, that’s a $50 bus pass for four months instead of 75 every month,” Barclay said about the positive aspect of the bus pass.
“I know some people that are within bus range, so they’re not eligible to opt out of that. But if they were to bus it would take them an hour or something, and I don’t really think that’s reasonable to expect someone to bus an hour each way school if they only have one or two classes that day,” he added.
Barclay went on to explain what he and his slate believe to be an amicable solution to the issue.
“It could be reworking the model to being more of an opt-in, so hypothetically if you cut the fee down to $25 and you use that pool to subsidize the individuals who are using it enough they can request the bus pass and use that amount of money just for those individuals,” he said. “So as a whole, if you’re not using it, your fees just got cut in half. If you are using it, you’re still getting the same benefit.”
The scope of Alliance regarding how fees are distributed amongst TRUSU, and by extension the student base, is admittedly focused mostly on the output the Students’ Union provides for students, but Barclay has some choice words on how funds are distributed.
“I think that maybe a lot of candidates aren’t willing to put in the hours for a minimum wage position. I mean, you could just go to whatever fast food restaurant and get the same amount of money, maybe even more, probably more,” he said. “So what’s to their benefit of going through this whole process. I mean we’ve been working hours and hours on this campaign already and we’re not even in. So what’s incentivizing anyone to put in that kind of work? They need to have enough passion to do that.”
Members of the Alliance slate are of the opinion that even if they don’t see representation this election, that they will have pushed the vanguard on how student politics can be approached here at TRU.