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: Calista Hills
Running for: Vice-president (Internal)
Program and Year: BA International Development & Sociology – Third Year.
Why are you running for this position?
I’m running for vice-president (Internal) because I see a lot of potential in this position to make lasting positive change. When we’re only at Dal for a limited time, it can be difficult to feel that you’re making a lasting difference. I feel that I can use the skills I’ve gained throughout my time in university to help create supports that will last beyond the position’s term and bring opportunities to enact change to the wider student body!
What do you admire about the current DSU members?
I think that the current DSU members have taken some great steps toward engaging the wider student body: the release of the annual survey, more food-oriented events, advocacy against tuition hikes and the ongoing process of updating the website and ratification processes.
I also greatly admire the current DSU members commitment to the student body, I believe a lot of the work they do often
What would you like to see the DSU do differently?
I want to see the DSU move in a new direction to engaging students –– especially off Studley campus! I think that there are many student voices that aren’t represented in DSU decision-making and communications strategies.
I think that engaging students is one of the more complex issues faced by the union. But I believe that by rethinking the current structures we have for communications and outreach, and incorporating more student representatives, it can go a long way for setting the DSU (and all students) up for success –– both throughout this upcoming year and in the future!
I also believe that to improve engagement and communications, we need to take a holistic approach that acknowledges all of the barriers students face in trying to provide input, network and hold leadership positions on campus.
What, in your opinion, is the biggest issue on campus right now?
I believe the biggest issue on campus right now is financial security. The stress many students are under to cover all the costs associated with university life has impacts that ripple out into all the other aspects of student lives. This issue not only makes an already challenging environment less-manageable but also impacts students ability to attend the university altogether. If students didn’t have the shadow of debt looming over our heads, I believe most of us would feel
I think that the DSU’s role in addressing this issue is both: advocating for students about tuition hikes and differential fees; and ensuring support is available and accessible for students to address the other issues that impact –– or are impacted by –– financial instability.
What are your goals if elected?
If elected I aim to craft the DSU into an organization that’s accessible to all students; specifically through the VPI’s role in communications, as well as advocating for the university to address accessibility concerns. This entails not only structural barriers, but also enabling equal access to mental health support and other student services.
I want to create a standard of consistent communication and consultation with student representatives, student societies, the various DSU offices
Additionally, my goal is to re-envision what student engagement can look like by further incorporating student’s skills and input into the initiatives, decisions and policies by the DSU.
Why should students vote for you?
I believe my experience in student societies and the student community has given me the knowledge needed to succeed in the VPI position. I think that I could use this position to create the supports that students need to meet their full potential!
I’m also passionate about student issues –– while we learn in the classroom,
Additionally, I want the DSU to work for everyone. Many communities often go unheard at the table –– both in the DSU and at Dal. I believe it should be a priority to ensure all students can feel confident in the integrity of their educational setting –– a big part of that is advocating for equity and accessibility.
I have experience in advocacy both within and outside of the university and am confident in my ability to bring all student voices into the conversation. I also know that in order to achieve this goal, we need to prioritize all campuses and put the energy into addressing student issues on Sexton, Truro and Carleton that all students deserve!
What have you been watching on Netflix lately?
Hasan Minhaj! Who doesn’t love not having to pay for cable to watch shows about political commentary?