With this year’s TRUSU election well under way, all three slates are already well into their campaigning periods.
Under the incumbent slate, Progressive Student Advocates (PSA), Sierra Rae (TRUSU’s current VP equity) will be running for president of the union. Though Rae may end up as a returning figure on the board, many students running under PSA this year are new faces.
“In comparison to last year, we have a few members that are returning to the board, but we also have a lot of new members. We have members from all areas of campus,” Rae said. “I think that we also bring a lot of different perspectives than what has happened in the past election years.”
One of these new faces is Kole Lawrence, who is running for the position of VP external. If elected, Lawrence will engage with the City of Kamloops to make not just TRU, but the city as a whole, more sustainable.
“One municipal issue that I’d really like to tackle is an environmental initiative in Kamloops,” he said. “We’re not bad, but there is a lot of work to be done in our city. A specific example might be eliminating plastic bags.”
PSA will also continue to focus on some of their existing campaigns, such as Fund the Future and Open Textbooks, however, they would also like to focus on several new initiatives as well.
First among those new initiatives is a service or location, which the Students’ Union will provide, where members can look for job opportunities. While the Students’ Union has never provided such a service in the past, Rae can see them working with the already existing career service on-campus Symplicity.
Study space is another issue that PSA would like to tackle in the coming year, Rae said. Specifically, she would like to see TRUSU work with TRU’s administration to provide multiple options across campus, as well as making sure the university’s current study spaces are properly maintained.
“The university does not have the areas for study and if they do, they are often loud and overcrowded, the seats are dirty,” she said. “I’d just like to see us really work with TRU administration to provide those options and to work to help some of those study space issues. With TRU making the changes they are on campus this is likely the right time to do that.
For Rae, another important issue this election is how TRU accommodates its international students, or more specifically, the continuation of the Welcoming the World campaign. This new project seeks to ensure a thoughtful “approach in welcoming international students.”
“There is the current campaign, Welcoming the World, which has been started by the University Affairs and the Campaigns Committee. I want to see that actually go through,” Rae said. “I want to see it go past the current board and really see it turn into something that provides students with the information they need and the consultation they need because it is just such a complex issue.”
Despite the many new initiatives that Rae and the PSA would like to take on if elected, many are overshadowed by a constantly recurring issue at the university: parking. Much like study space, PSA plans to work with TRU’s administration and actively consult students to find the best possible solution.
“I think the main thing going forward and I think what previous boards have really missed, is that fact that we need to do student consultation before we go to this level of, ‘We’ve got this parking plan, we’re going to implement it’,” she said.
Student consultation and representation doesn’t just stop at parking either. Fellow PSA member, Brandon Hayashi, who is running for VP equity, would like to see an accessibility representative on the equity committee next year if elected.
“One thing I see on campus all the time is the lack of disability and accessibility services and I firmly believe that the committee should have an accessibilities representative as well,” Hayashi said. “I understand we do have programs that provide services to individuals who are suffering from physical disabilities or learning disabilities, but we don’t have a gauge of how these students are perceiving their education.”
As for the campaign period itself, Rae is more excited than anything to have two opposing slates running against her and her team. To her, it simply shows that students are interested in the union and want to have a voice.
“I’m actually really excited to see all the students involved this year,” she said. “I’m more than happy to see them all involved in the election because it means that students are interested in taking part in the Students’ Union.”
Election polling will take place online from March 18-22. Make sure to check your TRU email.