Candidate in focus: Tatiana Gilbert, president

Presidential candidate Tatiana Gilbert talks finances, communication and more

The Omega asked this year’s candidates in contested positions for the TRUSU general election to respond to a variety of questions concerning students and the university. Candidates for president were asked what they thought the biggest issue on campus was, how to increase engagement between the students’ union and their membership, as well as what they believed to be the purpose of the students’ union. Candidates were interviewed in person.

Tatiana Gilbert, candidate for president with the Student Advocacy Coalition slate. (Juan Cabrejo/The Omega)

Biggest issue on campus

For Gilbert, money is by far the biggest issue facing students at TRU. She believes one way to alleviate financial stress from students is through fighting for lower textbook costs.

“I’d like to stick with the open textbooks and really push for that. Having tuition lowered is not something we could really do as TRUSU,” Gilbert said. “For TRU in general, it’d be getting the open textbooks passed and seeing that come to fruition and having more teachers adopt that. It’s a small step, but it’s part of the long run.”

When it comes to getting open textbooks adopted, Gilbert said that she will be personally talking to professors and informing them of the program’s benefits.

“I think that open textbooks are a lot more flexible and creative for professors, so even if we market it that way, it might become easier for them to accept it,” Gilbert said. “I know there is a lot of work that goes along with it, but I’m willing to work hard and ensure that that comes into place.”

Campus communication

Gilbert believes that TRUSU should be strengthening its online presence more than anything else.

“I think TRUSU could do better in getting online more,” Gilbert said. “I think they should have Snapchat, I think they should be a little bit more prominent on some other social media platforms. If they are doing events, they should be doing Facebook Live events.”

When it comes to on-campus engagement, Gilbert suggested that TRUSU should possibly have a more central presence, like a booth in Old Main, where students can come to talk to their representatives and ask questions.

She also said that more regular meetings with other campus bodies would be a benefit.

“I would like to establish a better relationship with different communities on campus, whether that be TRU World or TRUFA or CUPE,” she said. “I would like to establish at least once-per-semester meetings. We should be having that contact and we should be building that relationship.”

On belonging to the Canadian Federation of Students

While Gilbert stated that she did not know enough about the CFS/BCFS split in order to answer the question, she did outline the strategy she would use to make decisions on the issue if she were to be elected.

“I would probably have to sit down, weigh the pros and the cons, ask if it’s really worth it, how much are we really getting out of this and just kind of go from there,” Gilbert said. “I’d want to see what the professional approach to take is and obviously what is in the best interest of students.”

Gilbert said that if the CFS isn’t currently benefitting students at TRU, then TRUSU has to ask itself why is it sticking with them.

Focus of the Union

To Gilbert, a functioning students’ union should know what issues its membership faces. This makes having a booth where students can voice their concerns all the more important, Gilbert said.

On top of hearing out students, TRUSU also has the responsibility to advocate on behalf of students, she said.

“I think that ultimately serving, and like TRUSU does, fighting for students is what I really want to see through this year and ensure that this is actually going to happen,” Gilbert said.

On parking, food services and grant funding

When it comes to the three issues that come up around election time every year, Gilbert said she wants to see more club and community involvement on the issues.

For parking specifically, Gilbert would like to see more students using TRU’s Rideshare program.

As far as food services goes, she wants to focus on getting food trucks up on campus on a regular basis.

When it comes to fighting for government funding, Gilbert said she would like to work closer with on-campus organizations like TRUFA.

“Ultimately, I think we really just need to work together, put that pressure on and ask the government why we aren’t getting the same funding as everyone else,” she said.