Name: JD Hutton
Program: International development studies and economics
J: My most relevant experiences are my years of experience doing political organizing for the student movement. I organized the 2012 and 2011 Day of Actions, so I’ve been working with the Students Unite campaign all year. So I have a lot of life experience working with students and hearing what peoples’ concerns are, and I’m ready to bring those to the Board.
G: Why are you running for the Board of Governors position?
J: Because this is a really big year. We are having a new president. We are $17 million in debt with the university. Government cuts have been coming year after year and tuition is going up and students need a strong voice. And because I’ve been working on these student issues for so long, and I have experience organizing students and mobilizing students, I have a very deep knowledge of the policies as well as the training economics. I am uniquely qualified to be in this position.
G: What do you think the role of the Board of Governors representative is?
J: To sit as a voting member of the governing body of Dalhousie, thinking about how to maximize the interests of the university, thinking about the centre of learning, teaching and research and thinking about maximizing how good the student experience at Dalhousie is.
G: If you were on the Board of Governors this year, what issue would you have brought to the table?
J: The first thing I want to do is increase transparency. We’ve seen this around the budget advisory committee and their reports, which only show the most macro level of the university’s budget. And that’s our tuition dollars funding it. We need to know in much greater detail where the money is going. We know that students are supposed to sit on that budget advisory committee but the student member was just some random person from the faculty of commerce instead of someone in the Dal student union, and that’s not acceptable. So students need to be kept in the loop more appropriately and more information needs to become public.
G: What is your stance on NSCAD being absorbed by Dal?
J: I am opposed to it. I think that NSCAD, as an institution, has a much better shot as an independent and thriving arts school, instead of a small subsidiary of Dal. Because I know that we are seeing the faculty of arts and social science here trying to boost enrollment and use those tuition dollars to fund those departments, and that would decline the quality of education at NSCAD and I don’t think that would benefit the school.
G: How would you like to enhance the student experience at Dal?
J: Well among other things, I’d like to see a pedestrian zone brought into University Avenue so there’s more common space for us to do whatever we want. Obviously I support lower tuition fees, which may not be something to do with the Board of Governors, but certainly to regulate international student fees, as they are hurting the most these days. Those are my two main things I am pushing for at the Board of Governors level.
G: What capital projects/facilities are you most in support of for the coming year?
J: The ones that I am paying the most attention to are the IDEAS building and the Oceans Excellence building. I need to do a bit more research because I need to actually see the Master Plan and the budgets, which I won’t really get to see in full detail until I sit on the Board, but those are the ones that I’ve made notes about.
G: Jamie Arron, DSU president, put forward a proposal entitled Strengthening Advocacy. What did you think of the proposal?
J: I think it’s great. As someone who’s been doing advocacy on behalf of students, I know that lobbying is important. I’ve done it and I’ve met with the minister of education myself and we’ve had constructive conversations. But lobbying can’t do everything. Lobbying is when you try to align your priorities with the government’s priorities and try to tinker with policy, but it can’t put ideas on the table itself because politicians don’t just operate on the basis of logical arguments— there’s also political forces, morality and economics at play. So in order to maximize the benefit, which is to reduce tuition fees, we need to have public campaigns that engage the public, and that requires an approach that CASA does not do. CASA does not do campaigns and therefore its approach cannot work and we are wasting our money. Not to mention, CASA does not actually support lowering tuition fees.
G: Anything else you’d like to add?
J: I would really like to see increased turnouts. So even if students aren’t voting for me, I just hope they vote.
The views and facts expressed by sources in this article concerning CASA are solely the views of the individual and do not represent the Gazette.