Name: Ali Calladine
Hometown: Whistler, B.C.
Program: International development and economics, 2nd year
Relevant political experience: Current DSU chair. A lot of work on formal committees, youth representative on municipal council. She sat on mini rez residence council, president of Dalhousie’s Oxfam chapter, treasurer for IDEAS society.
Dalhousie Gazette: Did you have any hesitations running given your time as the chair of the DSU?
Ali Calladine: I wouldn’t say that being the chair of council gave me any hesitation to run. Of course, I wanted to make sure that everything would be fair. I’ve been making sure that this is the case with the CRO (chief returning officer), that there’s no conflict of interest going on, but that doesn’t seem to be the opinion of anybody that there would be, running [for senate] and being the chair at the same time.
I think being the chair has given me a lot of experience and a lot of really powerful and quick insight into what is happening with the DSU and the opinions of people from a very wide group, because we have people from Sexton Campus who sit on council, for example. Sitting in an unbiased role has allowed me to get a really good background for senate, I think. I also know all of Dal’s policy, like a lot of it, so that’s good.
DG: Why are you running for a senate position?
AC: I think there’s a lot of really incredible and passionate work going on at Dal, around student issues, student life, a wide range of things, but I think something that has fallen off a little bit has been academics, and I think academics is something every single student at Dalhousie is here for. We are all in classes, so even if that’s not everybody’s main priority, it is a common ground everybody has.
I think in the past, senate has been used as a position sometimes to sit on council, and in some cases, there have been amazing senators who have done really great work. My goal is to come in and put much more energy into the position than the position requires if I am voted in. To be someone with a loud voice and a good understanding of policy and a wide perspective to get the voices of students out to senate.
DG: What policy experience do you have?
AC: Being the chair of the DSU would be my experience. I constantly carry a constitution around with me, on weekdays, for fun, so that I can pull it out and quote from it. I do the same thing with a book of Robert’s Rules, and ultimately as the chair, it’s important to know most of policy rather than having to look it up. Even if I didn’t know all of it at the beginning, there have been instances in almost every bylaw that have come up throughout the year that for some reason I’ve ended up looking at the bylaw and having to know it. Even just knowing how policy works is a skill you can pick up. Anybody can pick up a constitution and read it, it’s a bit more to have actually worked with that policy.
DG: If you were on senate, what issues would you have brought to the table?
AC: There’s a lot of campaigning going on about the library cuts, and there’s a lot of talk which didn’t quite turn into full action about program cuts. I think it’s great to see the grassroots work going on with students and it seems like they’ve had an amazing impact. I think it would have been great to channel that through senate as well, and to be talking at the policy level and at the grassroots level on those issues because they are really important. It was amazing to see so many students get behind an issue and agree on an issue that I think we should have been doing more about it at the senate level.
DG: What role do you see the Senate having in the coming year?
AC: I think that senate should have a much more active role in talking to students. I would love to see a system where if a student approaches an executive of the DSU about an academic issue, whether they mention it in passing or someone places a formal complaint, I think that should be directed to the senators. That would be a much more empowering process than having a lot of people with a lot of issues who don’t know who to talk to. I’ve also been talking to some leaders of societies down on Sexton. I think it would be really important to get more Sexton representation on the senate because currently there’s no position for a Sexton rep, although there’s a position for an Ag. campus rep which isn’t filled.
DG: An expected one per cent increase in government funding this year is not enough to prevent another tuition hike. What would you do to help the university’s budgetary concerns?
AC: I don’t think right now, as a student, I have a good enough understanding of the university budget to start giving advice. I think it’s our responsibility as students to research and hear out what the university is currently doing with their budget and to get more educated about it before creating big plans for what we think can happen. I haven’t been able to look over the budget for the entire university yet but maybe one day.
DG: What committees would you hope to serve on if elected and why?
AC: There’s a learning and teaching subcommittee whose focus is on teaching styles, learning styles, what sort of culture to create for faculty when it comes to the classroom, interactions with students, I think that would be a really interesting subcommittee to sit on. There’s also a governance subcommittee, which makes all the decisions about program cuts and where to put what money. I think would be really important to have a strong student senator on those committees.
I would sit on all the subcommittees if I could, but if I had to choose two, which I would say would be the minimum, it would be those two. They don’t get a lot of attention.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.