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Candidate profile: Jon Magill

Name: Jon Magill

Age: 21

Program: Fourth-year honours political science

Relevant political experience: Two years as DSU student senate representative, sitting on numerous committees concerning academic matters and senate discipline, among others. O-Week leader for three years.

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

Magill : First and foremost, because I really want to do this. It’s something I’m really passionate about, and I think I can do a better job than the people in the position for the past little while. I think I can do a good job and I really want to do this.

If I don’t get elected, I don’t know what I’m going to do and the likelihood of staying at Dalhousie is very minimal, and because I love it so much here I actually want to stay. This would give me another year and I would be looking at grad school or something here possibly. 

G: What do you plan to do if elected?

M: The first thing I want to do is train council. New councillors coming on, that are appointed or elected, they need training. Me, personally, coming into council was somewhat intimidating for me because there’s so many people with a lot more experience. Offering training to council and the council chair to know when and how they can go about asking questions, bringing forward motions, all the mechanics that council has at their disposal.

In respect to student union governance, I would explore the possibility of creating a vice-chair position on council. My ideas are just minor fact-finding, information-gathering duties, they’d fill in for the chair when the chair isn’t available and, more importantly, they’d chair the executive review committee.

Lastly with student union governance is expenses. When Edgar [Burns, VP (finance)] was looking at the budget, he was able to trim discretionary spending by $40,000 plus dollars. I want to go in and obviously cut down on things that are likely going on right now. I don’t know what they are because expenses aren’t made available on the DSU website, so that’s another thing I’m committed to: releasing my spending.

Second kind of major issue I’m looking at is advocacy. Fundamentally, we pay some of the highest tuition in the country and therefore I think we should have some of the best education in the country, and I don’t know if that’s the case right now. And the university has one-time emergency funds & they’re going into that, so how does that look going forward? What’s going to happen next year?

My slogan will be “I’m going to promise not to promise anything,” because I can’t say tuition is going down, it’s just not a feasible estimation. I hope it does, I hope there’s some way we can make that happen but I can’t say I’m going to do it for sure. I want to stress getting out to students is really important. I’m going to go out in the meal halls in September and January every week and ask what do you think about this? How should we tackle these issues?

G: What qualifies you for this position?

M: I think my general knowledge of the process in the university is pretty substantial. I think that qualifies me over potentially some other candidates. My two years on Senate, I’ve gotten to know a lot of people—administration, faculty, deans, staff, centre for learning and teaching staff, the registrar’s office—all these kinds of people that are really important to the functioning of the university and academic issues.

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

M: I’d like to make it clear: I do not support removing the DSU from the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. I actually do think they are effective in lobbying the government and I question how Dalhousie expects to represent our interests in Ottawa with no one to represent our interests in Ottawa, no one physically in Ottawa to do that.

There’s arguments we could use this money to hire a policy development coordinator to do research; I again question whether the amount of money we spend with CASA can do that effectively here.

As a council member, I’m going to vote no to removing ourselves from CASA and as a candidate in the election I will be, to some degree, outspoken about this.

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

M: I want to stress the importance of getting out to students. I don’t think I can effectively advocate for students, lobbying in particular, without knowing what students actually want. Right now as a student representative, I take courses, I have a job, I’m not paid to do it so I don’t have the time really to go out and do all these consultations, but if I was in the position that’s what I’d want to do. See where the priorities lie in students’ minds and then go from there.

Ideas initially from myself include the Memorandum of Understanding at the provincial level is coming up, there’s likely to be a provincial election so that’s a great opportunity for the DSU and the VPAE, in particular, to kind of make that election talk about students’ and students’ interests.

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

M: I think everybody defines their academic experience differently. I’m really under the firm belief that academics go beyond simply a textbook; it’s really about the experience, it’s about student life, it’s about extracurriculars and intramurals, sports, societies. To say that I will improve the academic experience of students at Dalhousie, I think it encompasses more than just Senate, and I think that’s mainly what it’s about.

Working with the VP (student life) and creating fun events that are educational, TEDx is really a good example. I think that’s brilliant, bringing more things like that to campus.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Watch one of Magill’s campaign videos:

Other candidates for VP (academic and external) are: Aaron Beale, 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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