Editor’s note: This interview has been edited and formatted for style and clarity.
The Dalhousie Gazette sent a similar questionnaire to each candidate in the 2019 Dalhousie Student Union election.
Name: Isa Wright
Running for: Vice-president (Finance & Operations)
Program and Year: Bachelor of Social Work, third year
Why are you running for this position?
I’m running for VPFO after being involved in student politics in Halifax for a little while; I’m just wrapping up my first year at Dal, so I’m excited to get involved here on a larger scale. The DSU, with so many students and resources, offers an amazing opportunity to enact change in students’ lives.
I’m a social work major, which I will admit is an unusual program for a VP Finance position –– however, I think that’s a good thing! I have the necessary financial experience as the treasurer of several societies, and with running my own small business, so while I have the experience to prepare the budget and work with the DSU accounting team, I also have a real passion for working with people and communicating with students.
I’m so excited to get more involved in many of the DSU’s societies and find ways to expedite the funding process to better support them, which will be one of my first goals! Our societies do so much amazing work for students, and I think that it’s high time that the DSU learns how to work with them more efficiently.
What do you admire about the current DSU executives?
Among the current set of DSU executives are some really powerful women! Chantal Khoury has done some amazing work on the budget and policies of the DSU, and for the last two years has consistently made improvements to student services and the day-to-day operations of the DSU. She’s done a lot of behind the scenes work with the sustainability and accountability of the organization, which I think has been under-appreciated!
Masuma Khan, who has also had a two-year term at the DSU, has also accomplished so much in her role as VPAE, with the tuition freeze campaign and also her dedication to providing free menstrual products for students! She has such a calm and firm way of responding to
What would you like to see the DSU do differently?
I know from talking to students on campus that many people feel isolated from the DSU, or don’t feel that the current programming reflects what they would actually like to see on campus.
I think my role in improving campus culture will be to improve the relationships between the DSU and societies; societies are our main link to students, and right now, the DSU often acts as more of a bureaucratic barrier to funding than as an asset to societies, and I’d really like to change that! I’d also love to see more organizing around tuition fees, and including a plan to educate students about reading Dalhousie’s budget. Yes, workshops for managing students’ personal finances are great, but I think the role of the union should actually be to educate students to read the budgets of larger organizations, which are so often inaccessible to students.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest issue on campus right now?
Tuition fees affect all of us, especially marginalized students. Personally, I’ve worked 30-45 hours a week throughout my university career in order to pay my tuition and living expenses, and this is unacceptable! While I’ve gained a lot of management and organizational skills from working and studying full-time, I don’t think any student should be in this position. We need to unite as students, across all of the Dal campuses, to fight for affordable and accessible post-secondary education!
What are your goals if elected?
I think I’ve touched on a few of my goals already, including restructuring our audit and grants process, interacting more with societies, organizing around tuition fees, but I’m also passionate about using the VPFO role to create a food justice coalition!
Our contract with Chartwells still has several years, but students need to have more access to sustainable, affordable, healthy food on campus. As a student, I know how it feels to choose between healthy food and textbooks some weeks, we absolutely need to create more solutions for food insecurity on all of our campuses.
I’m committed to not only working with Chartwells, the Loaded Ladle, and the food bank but also to empowering other resources and creating stronger bonds between these initiatives. So when our current contract ends, we’ll have more strengths and resources to advocate for better food services on campus.
Why should students vote for you?
I’m here for students, always! Budgets are all about priorities, and my priority will always be students. I’m committed to communicating better with societies and plan to regularly check in with every society to keep in touch with current campus issues.
I think the DSU is often a bit of a silo, and you have to be a “DSU insider” to get involved; I’m definitely not an “insider” right now, and I never plan to be! My door will always be open to students, regardless of whether you need an emergency bursary, want to start a new society, or want to learn more about reading the budgets of large organizations, I love to interact with students and will be thrilled to help you out.
What have you been watching on Netflix lately?
Right now, I’m a little obsessed with One Day at a Time. It’s so wholesome, intersectional and adorable!