Name: Jennifer Nowoselski
Hometown: Saskatoon, SK
Program: Political Science and International Development
Nominated for: President
Relevant experience: Current Vice-President (Internal) of the DSU, previously a commissioner for the VP (Internal) and VP (Academic and External)
Dalhousie Gazette: After a year of being Vice President (Internal), what makes you want to take on the role of President?
Jennifer Nowoselski: There were a lot of things we were working on this year that need to be carried over into next year. After being in this position I’ve come to realize that it’s really important that someone with experience move into the role of president so that they can fully support the other executives, as well as council, as well as the other students involved in the union. I wanted to make sure that the ball wasn’t dropped on that, and then when I found out that no one else that was a current executive was interested in running I decided that I would run, and I’m really excited about it!
DG: What are your plans, if elected?
JN: I’m really excited to continue some of the work that is happening right now. When I first came into office I talked a lot about how I wanted to work on communication as a union, and when I first came into office we had one staff member that was working on policy, research and communication. By the time my term is over on May 1st, we’ll have three staff members working on that, making it possible for more students to be involved and be informed of all the really important work that’s happening. It seems like communication is something that’s talked about a lot as a criticism of the DSU and I feel the same way. We’ve done a really good job this year but there’s still so much work to do, and I’m really excited to take that on and to continue the work that we’ve been doing this year.
DG: What is the biggest issue facing Dal students next year?
JN: There’s going to be a few big issues. We already know this year that the budget is calling for a 3% increase in tuition fees, so one of the things that we’re going to have to work on really hard is advocating to the government and to the university on why you can’t keep raising tuition fees and cutting all of our programs and our funding, so that’s going to be a really big thing. We also have the SUB renovations coming up, so it’ll be really important to have someone experienced be able to take care of all the logistics that will happen with that process.
DG: Name three things that you would change from how the DSU is currently being run.
First of all, communication. We need to put a lot more energy into the way we’re communicating and reaching out to Dalhousie students – there are a lot of people on our campus that are members of the union, that are doing really incredible work, but others don’t know about it. So making sure that all of that information is out there, and people have the opportunity to be involved to whatever capacity they want to.
Another thing is the connection between all of the executive members and how they work together, all of the council members and how they work together, as well as all of our staff and all of the members of the union – to make sure that everyone feels supported to be a part of the union and can take part in whatever they want to work on.
The other thing is going to be around accountability, which fits into collaboration and communication – making sure that the union is accountable to all of its members in terms of making sure that they are informed of what is happening and making sure that the union is holding people accountable to the policies that are being made for the university.
DG: What are your plans to review internal governance?
JN: I think that a governance review would be really helpful. There are a lot of policies that need to be adjusted and a lot of structural things that need to be adjusted. The structure that we’re working under might work in terms of having councillors that reach out to their constituents and bring that information back to council and to the executive, and having the executive role to actually execute the will of council. The structure exists but it’s not actually followed that way right now, so having someone come in and try and give us suggestions about how we could make adjustments about how we could make the structure work better would be super helpful.
DG: What do you think of DSU council’s recent decision to disaffiliate from Students Nova Scotia?
JN: I fully support that decision and I’m really happy that that happened.
DG: How can you make the DSU’s work more visible?
There’s a lot of ways we could make our work more visible. I think that part of the issue is making sure that folks know that every member that’s working on something on campus is actually a part of the DSU. And so we need everyone to know that the work of all the students on this campus is part of the union and the union is here to support all of that work.
DG: Some professional and graduate students have announced their desire to disaffiliate from the DSU. What do you think about this?
JN: I don’t know what you’re talking about.
DG: How do you think Ramz Aziz, current DSU president, performed this year?
JN: I think that Ramz did a good job this year. There are a lot of things that I want to work on in the future, and as president I would make a point of making sure that all of the executive are working together and having a collaborative approach to all of the programming that’s happening – making sure that councillors feel supported, and understand how they can bring issues forward to council and have a better understanding of how they can reach out to their constituents. Also, supporting all of the staff and all of the members to make sure that everyone feels included and can work on whatever they’re interested in working on.
DG: If you could travel in a time machine that could go anywhere in space and time, where and when would you travel to?
JN: To be honest, I wouldn’t actually take the opportunity. I’m very interested in living in the present moment and I’m really excited about where my life is at right now, and the point in history where we’re at right now. I’d rather fully participate in this than go anywhere else.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.
Update, 03/16/2015, 10 p.m.: This interview was updated to include a question that was omitted from the first published draft.