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DSU Vice-present (Academic & External) candidate: Kenyan Nagy

Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and formatted for length, style and clarity.

The Dalhousie Gazette sent a similar questionnaire to each candidate in the 2019 Dalhousie Student Union election.

Name: Kenyan Nagy
Running for: Vice President – Academic/External
Pronouns: He/Him
Program and Year: Political Science – 4th Year

Why are you running for this position?

I decided to run for VPAE so that I can put my education and skills to the services of my fellow students. I have thoroughly enjoyed my time here at Dalhousie, as a result of the countless interesting people I have had the good fortune of getting to know over the course of my education.

However, I understand not everybody feels this way about their time here at this institution for a number of different reasons, such as rising tuition, inequality and other factors.

I would like to do everything in my power to help every student navigate and address key issues that matter to them. The student body is responsible for my fond memories of my time here; it’s time for the pendulum to shift, so that I may be responsible for the fond memories of other students, doing for them what they have done for me.

You’re running uncontested for this position. Why do you think that is?

I believe I am unopposed due to the nature and scope of the responsibilities that accompany the position of VPAE.

The VPAE is responsible for two portfolios: Academic, in which the VPAE sits on the Dalhousie Senate and all subcommittees, while also acting as a Dalhousie Academic Integrity officer, advocating for students facing discipline for alleged academic misconduct; as well as External, in which they chair the External Action Committee, in addition to attending bi-weekly provincial government round-table meetings. In other words, the VPAE position is a full-time job, which still needs to be undertaken by a registered Dalhousie student.

Now that I will be taking on the role of VPAE, I will be stretching the last of my courses over the duration of the year so that I may be able to properly perform the responsibilities that accompany the position – this is why I believe I am the only candidate. I am certain there are many other students who have a similar mindset to my own, who would particularly enjoy fighting for the rights and freedoms of their fellow students; however, their situation does not permit them do so. Maybe they have a job lined up after graduation, maybe they are in an intensive program and can’t afford to take the time out for campaigning, or maybe they have familial obligations that require them to be at home when they are not at school.

Whatever the reasons may be, I am very fortunate in that I have a personal situation that permits me to take on the vast responsibilities that come with both campaigning and serving on the executive.

Does that affect how you have been campaigning?

Definitely. I had initially planned to hit the ground running, going full throttle into a ground campaign that involved me being out there – in the SUB, on the quad, personally ensuring that I am demonstrating to my fellow students that I am their most committed candidate.

Upon finding out I was in fact the only candidate, I slowed things down immensely, for one very simple but very necessary reason: the transition period. As I mentioned earlier, there is an immense amount of responsibilities that come with the position of VPAE.

What do you admire about the current DSU executives?

As far as my position goes, I admire the work that has been done by the incumbent, Masuma Khan. Ms. Khan has been responsible for a number of positive external action campaigns and has put her full effort into performing the duties of the VPAE to the best of her ability, which is all anyone can ask of their elected officials.

While some may disagree with her point of view on certain issues, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the decisions she makes are a result of being very informed, passionate, and brave in the face of adversity. Everything she does is a result of her desire to improve the situation for all of the students.

While I may differ in my opinions on how to achieve what she has been working towards, I’d like to bring the same level of commitment to the position: being informed on the issues that face every community, being passionate about working for the betterment of those committees, and just all in all, in a manner of speaking, doing my homework!

Ms. Khan is one of the most informed representatives I’ve seen in student politics, as a result of doing her research and being informed. I will be bringing that same energy to the position, ensuring that I am informed on every aspect of the issues at hand, and bringing that knowledge to the table when it matters.

What would you like to see the DSU do differently?

I would like to see a better relationship between the DSU and the bulk of the university population. In recent years, we have not been able to achieve higher than about 20 per cent voter turnout in DSU elections – why is that?

I believe it’s because of a number of misconceptions regarding the student union, and a general feeling that the DSU doesn’t work for them. I’d like to address this through one key strategy – community engagement. The best thing that any elected representative can do is to stay in touch with the electorate through ground level community outreach – I will be doing my best to ensure that I am in constant contact with the whole student body.

I don’t want myself or the other elected representatives to be seen simply as DSU executive, I want the student body to see me as their VPAE. I want them to see the president as their president. I want students’ needs to be aware that the DSU is there for them in any capacity. Is your landlord giving you trouble? Is an employer trying to withhold pay? Come to us, we can help. Our student union is here to work for you.

What, in your opinion, is the biggest issue on campus right now?

Without question, the tuition hike coming in the next year: three per cent per year for domestic students, 11 per cent per year for international students (who already pay more than twice as much as domestic students as it is). From a strictly overall financial perspective, this is not economically viable – if students have to pay more to attend our institution, they are more likely to look elsewhere for their education, which will hurt us more in the long run. This not only affects Dalhousie, but the economy of Halifax as a whole.

On the individual student level, this is detrimental to the ability of those to succeed in their programs: higher tuition means many people have no choice but to work more hours (assuming they’re fortunate enough to be able do so), which in turn means less effort spent on their education – if you’re spending most of your time working, you’re spending less time studying. This will lower your GPA, and limit your post-graduation opportunities, negating the whole point of receiving a University education.

This is indicative of a larger societal problem regarding education and the workforce, but on the DSU level, we can lobby the government for better funding, address fiscal mismanagement, and do our part to ensure that students are financially stable enough to get the most out of their education. I will be doing my part to ensure the administration is held accountable for these decisions and will fight to ensure that our students have peace of mind regarding these upcoming financial hindrances.

What have you been watching on Netflix lately?

Daredevil! Always Daredevil. I lost my mind when they cancelled it, and I hope that some behind-the-scenes negotiations end up bringing it back on another streaming platform (Hulu please!). The acting is superb, the writing is superb, the cinematography is top notch.

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Rebecca Dingwell

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