Dalhousie Gazette: What made you decide to run for president?
Ramz Aziz: For me, as VP internal this year, it felt like there was a lot more that I could do. I saw opportunities where I could make a difference, which played a huge factor in my decision to actually go for the role of president. Next year will involve a lot of focus on the structure and process of the union. For example, there are a lot of opportunities for improvement in things like our governance around communications and our services for students. You hear the term “make the union relevant again,” and I think that we all try and do that in our own way.
DG: What are your plans for next year?
RA: There’s an exhaustive list of things in terms of goals. However, a lot of issues that the union experiences are due to a lack of systems and structures. For example, our food service model needs to be re-examined and there’s a lot of work on advocacy that needs to be done, especially at the university level. We have a lot of opportunities there that I want to emphasize upon. Also, I want to give a voice to international students, who I find have historically been neglected by both the university and the union.
DG: What makes you most nervous about this position?
RA: I think that the opportunity is both exciting and daunting at the same time. Due to some of the incidents that took place last year, the union has been receiving a lot of attention from a lot of people, so ultimately it’s time to step up to the plate and deliver results. At the end of the day, people expect me to perform and to live up to their expectations. I wouldn’t say that that’s scary, but it’s definitely something that I need to consider.
DG: How do you think Dal students relate to the DSU president, and are there any ways you would change this relationship?
RA: Even just being in an office, it establishes a sort of power dynamic and a sense of a hierarchy that makes executives inaccessible to students in a lot of ways. There are changes that can be made in a president’s behaviour to make them more approachable and accessible, and more in tune with students’ needs and interests. Especially when it comes to the diversity of our stakeholders: we have law students and medical students and engineers and whatnot, and for me the biggest challenge is in keeping in touch with these different groups on campus. At the end of the day, I think that my job as president is to build consensus and a sense of unity among the different demographics that exist in the student body. For me to do that, I need to spend a lot of time outside the office.
DG: Is there anything else that you would like to add?
RA: Yes. I have items that I wish to accomplish, but obviously I would like to make my agenda more open to student feedback and doing what they would like to do. It’s almost like I never want people to forget that I’m actually a public servant, and this serve part is really what I hope to accomplish in full effect next year.