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Candidate profile: Aaron Beale

Name: Aaron Beale

Age: 24

Program: Fifth-year sociology and international development

Relevant political experience: Incumbent VP (academic and external) for 2011-2012. Before that, active in lobbying to reduce tuition with the Day of Action rally, helped start the Loaded Ladle and advocated to change the SUB’s food contract.

G: Why are you running for the VP (academic and external) position?

Beale: I’m running because I think the DSU has done a fantastic job this year and I have done a fantastic job. I feel like I’ve learned a lot and have had a lot of fun and I think I could do an even better job next year with the experience I have. I started things that other people haven’t done, and I’m really excited to see them continue and grow. It’s a really steep learning curve as an executive and already having gone past that, I feel like I could make a lot of changes a lot faster.

G: What do you plan to do if elected?

B: Continue campaigns, so lobbying for reduced and regulated tuition for everyone, lobbying the city for a summer U-Pass for students and closing University Avenue. Lobbying the university around things like getting a fall reading week, having mandatory referenda on all new student fees—ideally, auxiliary fees—and just generally lobbying around budget issues. I feel like students should definitely be at the head of the decisions.

I did 24-hour study space this year and I’m really excited to do that again next year, I want to see the food contract in the SUB change even more so it’s more student-run; it would be cool to start a craft and food market. SUB renovations are something I’ll be actively involved in. I’d love to lobby for food in the T-Room and I’d like to start a couple new things in the DSU: an equity and campaigns department, an access and disability centre and legal and financial help or advocacy.

G: What qualifies you for this position?

B: The year I’ve had I think has been a really big success. We’ve done stuff: 24-hour study space, a lot of changes to the SUB space, putting music in the SUB, supporting the Loaded Ladle, having outdoor movies on the side of the SUB. I’ve held a lot of successful events, especially engaging communities that aren’t normally represented in the DSU. And I think the campaigns have been really successful. I’ve met with government more times than most executives do, as well as run campaigns to coincide with those meetings.

G: What’s your stance on the DSU potentially leaving CASA?

B: I’m in favour of the motion coming forward to drop down to associate member of CASA. This would give us a year to review our membership in CASA, to consider the positives and negatives of being in that organization and what we can do with that money. At the end of that year, we can make a decision to drop out or become a full member. I suspect that we’ll find that students’ money is better spent elsewhere. $45,000 is enough to hire a full-time researcher that could do research on municipal issues, Dal issues, provincial issues and federal issues. This would allow the DSU to expand its capacity in many ways and continue lobbying on the things that CASA does well. At the end of the day, I think it’s the best use of student money but I’m in favour of giving the DSU a year to make that decision.

G: What should the union’s lobbying priorities be?

B: I don’t think there’s any limits. There’s so many things that students need that the student union can advocate for. In my platform I say that I’ll lobby the province. There’s likely going to be a election this year so I think that’s really, really important. It’s also an MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] year where there will be a new MOU signed. That’s really, really important but I think the union should also lobby to the city for things like a summer U-Pass and closing University Avenue. And I think it’s clear by the way the university’s budgeting process has gone there’s a huge place for the student union in there, advocating for student issues and engaging students in that process.

G: How would you improve the academic experience for students?

B: I think the Dal budget is the biggest, the thing that will most largely affect students in the classroom. The university is looking at making larger classes, they’ve downloaded three per cent cuts onto the faculties, resulting in budget cuts, programs being closed and merged. These are all things with detrimental effects so I think having students at the table saying we don’t want those things cut is so, so important. Things like DISP [Dalhousie Integrated Science Program] is a really good example of a program that everyone knows is really good, really successful and students really appreciate but the university is cutting it.

Other candidates for VP (academic and external) are: Jon Magill, Jessica Dempsey and (formerly) Thomas Eaton.

Ian Froese
Ian Froese
Ian was the Gazette's Editor-in-chief for Volume 146. He was the Sports Editor for Volumes 145 and 144.
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