Chris Lolas – President
How do you intend to increase student space on campus if the referendum doesn’t pass?
I think we’ve had an interesting process in evaluating what we want to see in the new building. I think a lot of the effort that went into designing the proposal … might be able to sort of extrapolate and see — alright these elements seemed really popular with the students, so how can we incorporate that into the rest of campus? We don’t have any areas on campus specifically that we’d like to look into, but we do have ideas of elements we know that students are really looking forward to.
Right now with regards to the SLC pack expansion… the funding structure is that the new building will be built by using [both] Feds undergraduate funds and graduate funds … What happens if the GSA doesn’t approve it?
I think it’s really going to be dependent on the voter outcomes. If the undergrads have votes overwhelmingly in favour of this, then we Feds still have a mandate to go forward with this because we have asked our students: “Do you want this building?” and they have said yes… It kind of puts us in this tricky situation where we don’t have the funding source from the grads, but we’re still mandated by a binding referendum that students want the building to go forward. I think it’s going to be dependent on the actual turnout of the voters as well as how the university is feeling about it. Ultimately, the building is built on their land and they have to approve of it anyway.
Would it still be the same plans, the same space? Would it be a reduced space?
I wouldn’t go so far as to say reduced space. But I think, for example, there is a grad student lounge. I mean if the grads aren’t funding it, then absolutely we’re not going to have a grad student lounge, for example. As well as I think there might have been elements … that have been more focused towards the grad students. But I wouldn’t say that we’re reducing or cutting things because that is what students have voted for. If it’s a drastic change to try and make the budget work or something, I think we [would] probably have to go back to referendum.
If our students vote it down, for example, do you think the university will propose another building in the coming years, is there a shot of it?
The problem is that they’ve already invested significant dollars into this current one. So the architects that have worked on this plan so far as well as the renderings, Feds didn’t pay for that at all. That was entirely university. If they put all these resources into [the building] … and students say no to it, they’re in the position of [saying] we can’t keep doing these proposals that are costing them a lot of resources if students aren’t saying yes to them. Certainly not within the next couple of years.
Can you tell me a little bit about the funding structure of the building?
Total cost of the building [is] about 34 million dollars. 24 [million] plus interest from the undergrad students and 10 million from the university.
How much will students pay in interests?
It depends on what enrollment numbers will be looking like. If we use current enrollment statistics and project that as just being constant over the next twenty-ish years, we’d expect a little over 10 million.
Considering the growth of the university, which has been rather significant in the past coming years, could it be that we pay more than 10 million?
No. If the growth is going up, as I certainly expect it would, we would pay less because we would be paying it off sooner. If we stay constant, we would be paying 10 [million], but if we have undergraduate enrolment growth, we would be paying it off sooner and actually pay less in interest.
If students pay 10 million in interest and the university contributes 10 million, aren’t we pretty much taking a loan from the university?
We have to realize that right now the market is such that the interest rates are very low. For example, in the 2009 referendum, both the health services and student services complex that went to referendum, had an interest rates at 5.5 per cent and right now we are using a 3.3 per cent interest rate. So I think we had to ‘strike while the iron is hot’ so to speak and take advantage of really low interest rates right now…The contracting company isn’t going to take $18 per student for 20 years, they want to get paid on day one. That means the university is putting in the full 34 [million on] day one. That means all of that money is money that they could have used elsewhere. They could be, for example, investing it and generating revenue off of that. So you have to [take] that into consideration as well.
You mentioned student council a lot in your video interview. I’m kind of curious because some of the concerns I’ve seen students pop up with is that in next year’s student council you guys might outnumber the student counselors. What will happen in that situation?
I certainly wouldn’t go so far as to say that we are going to outnumber councillors, but you are absolutely right. That the low number of councillors right now is concerning and I absolutely intend, once this election is all over, to try and encourage as many students as possible to join council.
Why aren’t people signing up for council?
Good question. If I knew that, I would propose a solution.
In terms of student councillors, how do you expect student councillors to react to deal with their constituents even on private Facebook messages or messages that are made on a public forum? What kind of behaviour do you expect of them?
I think that as long as they are upholding the policies of both Feds and the university, I think we are fine. Obviously we don’t have any type of gag order on our councillors and they are free to speak their mind… And again, if people have issues with their councillors, there are mechanisms in place that they can go through; they can email the speaker of council if that is what they wish.
What have you found problematic about policy 71 and 33. What changes would you like to see?
Those policies were written in the mind set of before internet. Right now we are in this really complicated muddy situation of what happens to student conduct online. The Dalhousie Dentistry School, you might be familiar with that, it was an ugly situation and I’ve had different answers when I ask the question ‘what would we have done if that happened here?” … We don’t have a student code of conduct. We need to clarify what are the limits of the university’s “jurisdiction.”
How do you intend to make students more aware of their rights on campus?
I think a big one is going to be the office of the ombudsmen person so Stephane Hamade has been working on that for the past number of months. I think that is going to be a really important fixture because it is going to be independent of Feds, it’s going to be independent of the GSA, it’s going to be independent of the university and it is going to be a place where any student can go and say “Hey, I feel like I have been mistreated or I have been wronged somehow, can you weigh in and say yes or no and help me through this situation?”
Why haven’t we had an office like this for the past couple of years?
I think some of the functions of the office have been moved into other areas of the university. So we have a conflict management and human rights office. Little bits and pieces have been moved out but the key part of the ombudsperson is that they’re independent of every organization on campus and I think that is what we really need to get back.
How do you plan on restructuring your own position?
It might not necessarily happen within my own year, but it might be in effect for the following year. But ultimately it is just following the basic structure of almost every corporation where you have the president overseeing the vice presidents, and the vice presidents reporting up to the president.
Why do you think that is preferential for the current structure?
I think right now we are missing out on a few efficiencies with our organization, because we don’t have a single kind of point person that every major decision has to flow through… As well as having a single point of communication where the president is sort of responsible for the entirety of the organization because right now you have four people who are responsible for different parts of the organization and we have kind of had to chop up Feds into different portfolios… Ultimately I think that everything should flow up into a single person.
How would you convince someone to vote for you as opposed to the other presidential candidate Razan?
I don’t think it can be understated how surprising this job can be, and especially in the first few months of your transition … as it was absolutely the case for me, chicken with their head cut off and not knowing really where to go and where to turn to and really just how to do the job. I think having, especially with some of the big projects going on like the SLC/PAC expansion, that continuity, someone who is not going to require months of transition and training; someone who can just hit the ground running.
Why is it that when years in which we have had the Feds election and we also have a referendum, the referendum has gotten so many more votes? For example, the bus pass. They are both the process for voting; one is not harder than the other. Why are people not voting in the Feds election?
I think in some cases it is so much easier to understand the wording of a referendum and the results of the referendum. It doesn’t take as long to understand both sides of the bus pass referendum. Whereas to make an informed decision about your candidates, you need to read platforms and look at their bios, watch debates. That is so much more time consuming and with our academic excellence here on campus, some students might not honestly have the time, but they do have the time.
Sarah Wiley – VPED
In regards to co-op, how is Feds going to hold employers accountable if they receive a poor evaluation from a student?
It’s tricky because we would have to work with other students and staff, and figure out the best way to do that. I don’t have a clear outline for that. But definitely not just not using an employer based on one bad review. But if an employer is consistently getting bad reviews from multiple students then that is a point where we need to be evaluating "Is this a valuable resource for students to be going to? Are they learning things? Are they having positive experiences? Is this a healthy environment for us to be sending students into?”
Which policies and procedures do you intend to address with the mental health and academics advisory committee?
Specifically, I have seen from a personal perspective, some people go through the process of petitions and I have just seen that it seems a little insensitive to students struggling with mental health. Just in that when they are given the information, for example, giving someone information about their petition right before an exam or during the exam period. Or even just not having the resources available to students who maybe are struggling with mental health but aren't in a severe enough state that they need to file a petition. So having resources available for them through Counselling Services, and Health Services, letting them know that they can get extensions on things and letting them know that there are people out there who can help them. And just making it easier for everyone to cope with mental health problems because it is really difficult to focus on school especially when you're going through something like that.
What are your current concerns with the existing resources in terms of off-campus housing disputes and how do you plan on improving that?
I've noticed as I'm sure you do and all the students at Waterloo do. Lately, there has been kind of a slew of unfortunate events of either mistreating students or for example with the one on Columbia where the building wasn't completed on time. Students just don't know how to react to that. They aren't given a lot of support from the university or Feds, in those cases they weren't anyways, on how to deal with that. I would just like to see more legal resources available to them and more awareness about resources that are already existing and resources we create.
How would the appointment of and the responsibilities of the ombuds staff member be monitored?
It would be someone who was hired by both Feds and the university. So it would be done in such a way that they were accountable to both parties and impartial. They would be non-partisan I guess but to the university and Feds. But in that process of creating the position, because it's something we have never done before, we would look at other universities because it is a common thing at other universities. And just see what they have done before and how we can use that information and consulting people at the university level and the full time Feds staff on the best way to go about that and it would all come out in terms of contracts and things like that if that position comes to fruition which I hope it does.
Deanna Priori – VPIN
In your platform, you write that you don’t want to give clubs permanent space, just temporary booking space, so what will that look like? What rooms will encompass that in the SLC and will this take away from any bookable study space?
The temporary space was a temporary solution like in terms of the SLC/PAC referendum. I am hoping to find more space for them if that goes through I think was what I was trying to work … Like working with the different departments on campus like athletics for example, they have some big studios, and they are not always being used, working with them to figure out if our clubs can rent out space there… I would never want to take away study spaces, I think study rooms are really great, maybe not like letting just clubs book all the study spaces though, like making sure there is a system in place [and] they’re not book all the rooms.
What are your experiences with satellite campuses?
Last year, I got to visit the architecture-Cambridge campus and … so [I] got to see a little bit more of it and see the city a bit… They have been around for a long time, they run their events and they need certain levels of support but not the same support that a newer society would need. Like the GBDA society. I think really working with them to make sure that they have what they need to succeed…. And then as well as the pharmacy campus … they’re a different kind of program because they’re undergrad, but technically a grad program … and [that] adds a new layer of different needs.
You wrote in your platform that you want to work with athletics to book a new space in the PAC/CIF for active clubs. What is the current availability in these buildings right now?
I actually don’t know much about that right now just because I haven’t been able to get in there. As just a service co-ordinator it would be more of a curiosity question that I would be reaching out to them rather than somebody who is going to start something. Because I am not a president of any clubs or anything like that, and I am not with the clubs group, I have talked to the clubs manager about it and that’s definitely something, if elected, that’s something I would want to pursue because I think it would be to have that extra available space.
The university provides whether maintenance for the campus. How will you advocate for snow and ice removal on campus and is the venture financially feasible for the university?
I think just being present to the university saying “hey, this path was blocked” like “this student had trouble”, “I heard about this.” Just making sure, following up with the university saying, this is still a problem “how about we focus on clearing up campus a little quicker.” Just making sure it doesn’t go unnoticed and unrecorded by the VP internal figure.
So do you think the venture will be financially feasible?
I don’t know how the universities budget works and if it’s necessarily a measure of having extra staff come, or anything like that. Or it is just a matter of rearranging their time schedule and their idea of what areas of campus are most important to clear first and figuring that out and maybe including students saying “oh well 30 students walk through here but a 100 students walk through here at the same time.” Focusing on clearing areas differently rather than necessarily adding more and creating more costs.
Brian Schwan – VPOF
How are you going to fund, distribute and monitor the resources you are planning to provide at Turnkey?
The idea behind it is to fund it through the Officer of Advancement. That they would reach out for sponsorship… With the distribution and monitoring, it would be in collaboration with services that currently provide these items to students. For example, for feminine hygiene products, the Women’s Centre currently provides tampons to students during, we don’t want to take that away from the Women’s Centre because that does create a lot of traffic to them. We would be working with them, [so] when they’re closed at about 6 p.m. every day, they could bring resources to the Turnkey and then Turnkey would be able to distribute to these students. As for managing, it would just be a constant internal monitoring of how much stock we have and how much we are going through
Carly did a project where she distributed condoms in the bathrooms and found they ran out quickly. What are you plans so that these services can be long lasting?
I think one issue with the condoms in the bathroom is a lot of people misused them with them being kind of open and people can take multiples at the same time. Individuals were abusing their privileges. So having them housed at the Turnkey, it makes individuals responsible for their actions that if somebody does need one of these emergency items they can go and receive one as opposed to taking 10 or 15 at a time for personal use down the road. As it does cite, my platform for emergency use and the times where people might forget these items that they do need on campus.
Could there be possible you know, to go to Turnkey and ask for one of those, it can be a difficult experience for some students. What if students aren’t comfortable asking the representative at Turnkey for sexual protection, tampons, for feminine hygiene products?
That’s a great point. With the confidentiality too with Glow Centre and the Woman’s Centre, those are open during the day during the week days. Individuals are free to go up to those services and just pop in and receive those in more of a kind of closed environment and then moving those to Turnkey ensures that we are providing those to students 24/7 as opposed to just the times these services are open. So, further providing these services as opposed to closing off when their offered during the day.
That doesn’t change the fact that if let’s say I go to Turnkey it is Bomber Wednesday and the line-up is around the corner, everyone will hear me asking for a condom.
If people really do need it that bad and they’re interested in it, they can go to health services before-hand, or they can plan ahead, or if they do really need it in that moment and time, it could be something where we train the Turnkey individuals to deal with it in a more confidential manner.
For sure, about the Officer of Advancement position that you’re creating, one thing I am kind of curious about is the purpose of it, and how it will differ from your own responsibilities, and also how you’re planning to fund it.
The purpose of it is to bring in more sponsorship and revenue into the Federation of Students operation. As we see right now, there is about 60,000 that come in through Welcome Week and orientation sponsorship. With a person working on that full time, they will be able to bring in more money and more resources to students through a lot of potential collaborations with different services on campus and also ways to meet student’s needs. There is a lot of money out there from organizations that they are willing to give as long as the match is correct, so having somebody to be able to match up the needs of students and, we have 30,000 students which is such a large target market for a lot of companies that they don’t normally have access to…. As well it will be able to help clubs and societies with say sponsorship for a club for an event because right now the reception I have gained from talking with clubs and societies is when we approach these companies we want to partner with, they don’t take us as seriously because we are students. So having somebody who is a professional in that position, and who has experience doing so, will be able to have a better potential of receiving those funds. In terms of funding it, there is a couple different options. A lot of students on campus have actually engaged with conversation with this. So, initially to get the ball rolling, I was thinking of creating an internal position within Feds that would start out with contract so we ensure that their position and their mandate and their goals and their objectives are being met over the course of the year and that way we can monitor to see if it is working and it is being efficient. Another recommendation that I had a conversation with a student was working with the university, with alumni affairs, to recruit alumni individuals who are willing to donate money back to student specific services and needs so that it doesn’t necessarily mean taking on another salary for the federation of students, while still using the resources that we have on campus, and the alumni who do want to donate this and as well it would also be working with the current staff to see if anyone does have an interest taking it on within their role, if they do have time, and if it is something that they are interested in to train them and ensure that they are a good fit for the role and then that way we wouldn’t be taking on an additional salary.
What is your plan for the contentious budget, that I think you mentioned, and how will the money be saved to be put towards student needs?
There are a lot of services and different initiatives that students may want to bring into the Federation of Students. Gaining their feedback on what their needs are through a conscientious oversight of where we are spending money currently… Through that, it would just be monitoring where we are spending our money and taking the time to look at alternate options of resources that we are currently spending money on to ensure that we are working on using the most effective and efficient resources.
You said that to create student space you’re really pushing for that new student life (extension) — the SLC/PAC expansion. Should that not go through, by via referendum? I know the university said there is different options, maybe they won’t build something at all, maybe it will just be funded by undergrads so then the plans would have to change — what’s your back-up plan?
It hasn’t been something that I have currently worked on because I have been a student. I don’t have a full contingency plan in place right now. That would be something that I would be in consultation with the current president, I mean the current exec, to see what their contingency plan has been and also working with the vice-provost of students, Chris Reed, to see what kind of alternate options we do have on campus to ensure that student space is still a priority because we do have such little student space on campus and I personally believe that we need to expand the space. There are no back-up plans as of right now, but if elected it would be through consultation with the various partners on campus to ensure the best option is achieved.
This is more of a specific question, have you looked at the plan? How much are students paying and how much is the university paying and how much are students going to be paying back the university in interest?
Sure, so the plan is for the university to contribute $10 million and the students to contribute $24 million and the student fee is $18 per term and the plan I believe is over about 20 years that that’s going to take to pay off. And the interest rate from watching the information session on the SLC/PAC expansion is 3.5 per cent off the top of my head, don’t quote me on that number, but in and around there.
How much will the total interest be that students pay back?
Off the top of my head I don’t have a calculator on me so I can’t answer that for you.
I can tell you. It is 10.7 million. Any comments on that?
I think that students realize that they have a really large need for this new student space. In terms of the specific finances, I wasn’t part of the negotiations or anything like that so I can’t comment on what was said in the meetings and, furthermore, the funding from the government that universities typically get from new buildings on campus isn’t going to be available because there is no classroom in this new building.