Name: Chris Abraham
Hometown: Beautiful Halifax, Nova Scotia
Major, Year: Third year, Double major in Chemistry and Philosophy
What do you think makes you qualified for this role?
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two years training to become prepared for this role. First and foremost, I have a lot of experience with the financial management of the DSU (detailed in questions below). I am also the president of Sodales, the Dalhousie and King’s College Debate Society. This means I’m not afraid to speak up to advocate for students needs.
For the past two years, I’ve sat on basically every committee that the VPFO sits on, including grants, society review, accessibility fund, budget, as well as the now defunct nominating committee. I know the committee structure inside and out and I want to expand the role non-executive members play on these committees to increase student engagement.
This year I’ve also got to see council in action, acting as a backup chair for when the usual chair (the irreplaceable Mitch) isn’t around. I’ve seen how council works, and how to participate effectively in the decision making process. All of this experience means that I know exactly what I’m getting into and how to start getting results on day one.
Do you hope to use the DSU’s spending to fund smaller student initiatives, or look at ways to use funds to invest in larger projects?
While I think it’s important to save up for large projects like the SUB renovation, I think the main focus of the union should be empowering our 200+ societies and student organizations. I want to use our funds to help them connect with each other and collaborate on projects. I also want to add $500 to each society’s yearly grant allocation so that they can access up to $1500 worth of grants each year.
I think that when the DSU tries to act as a whole in pursuing projects, it often misses the mark and ends up alienating students. This contributes to the lack of enthusiasm I’ve heard from so many students about the DSU. Societies are better able to plan and execute projects to engage their members, and the DSU should do everything in its power to help them. The large projects I have in my platform like supporting the overhaul of our food services and opening a convenience store are revenue positive policies that will give us funds to give back to students.
What do you hope to have accomplished by the end of your term?
Lots. By the end of next year, there will be a place to get a shawarma in the SUB, just a few steps away from our new convenience store. We’ll have a budget that we’ve consulted students on. We’ll have more students sitting on committees and helping the DSU make decisions. The Union will have new sources of revenue and a plan to invest this money right back into students through our increased grant allocation and new grants to fund collaboration. I hope that societies will have a better idea of the kind of collaboration that can go on at the DSU, and a clear path towards continuing these collaborations in the years to come. We’ll be running a balanced budget, and the Union’s financials will be secure.
What sort of background do you have in finance?
A lot of background. I do bank reconciliations in my sleep and organize my life using Excel spreadsheets. This year I have been the audit and budget commissioner of the DSU, which means I’ve worked closely with our current VPFO, Dylan, to audit levied societies and put together our annual budget. I’m extremely familiar with the finance and operations of the student union, and I’ve put a lot of time and work in over the last two years becoming prepared to run for VPFO.
Outside of my work with the DSU, I also work at the Dalhousie University College of Continuing Education, where I do, among other things, a great deal of work on the balance sheets and finances of the College. As the president of a sizable society, I’ve also been involved in the budgeting, recordkeeping and reconciliation process from start to finish.
What is your favourite thing about Dalhousie?
Without a doubt, the students. I think that the students at Dalhousie are incredible, and I’m always amazed at the projects they have on the go. While on the grants committee I’ve seen so many proposals and thought, “That’s so cool!” and I want to use this position to foster that.