Name: Yazan Khader
Hometown: It’s a long story, but let’s say Hebron, Palestine
Major and Year: Fourth year engineering
What are the issues within the engineering faculty?
There are three main issues that stand out to me. The most pressing concern is the rising cost of education, especially for those studying engineering. Last year, we saw a particularly large hike of about 25% over three years in our faculty’s fees. This is a problem that makes it difficult for potential students to gain access to education, and for current students to continue learning.
Second is the lack of study spaces and food options in the engineering building. Most Sexton students that I talk to raise this topic up first when asked. They feel it on a daily basis as they try to find a place to do work.
Finally, the lack of attention the DSU is giving Sexton students comes to the detriment of both the Union and engineering students. Unfortunately, engineering students no longer see the DSU as a viable source of support, and this ultimately denies the Union very important input, as well as a very important group of students who could otherwise be strong members of a more effective student movement.
If you became the faculty of engineering’s representative, what do you plan to do?
I plan to use my position to address the issues I talked about earlier.
The first issue, high tuition fees, is the outcome of the university’s and the province’s priorities. A strong student union would mobilize itself on both those fronts. The DSU has generally been doing great work from what I can tell, and the more students are on board, the more likely that our efforts will be effective. I see my role as bringing engineering students to the table.
The second issue, lack of study spaces, can be dealt within the Board of Governors. Right now, a new building is being constructed on Sexton. This is a great opportunity. Engineering students must incorporated in the process to ensure study spaces are part of the design. I can best fulfill that by working with BOG student representatives to open up those communication routes.
Finally, with the lack of attention the DSU is giving Sexton, my role there is to keep pressing for more visibility on the part of the DSU and levied societies. My past experience as the DSU’s Sexton Director, and as the Engineering Society’s VP Communications, gives me a unique understanding of what that goal requires.
Why do you want to represent the engineering faculty?
I really enjoy taking part in student government and the student movement. It’s easy to see the results of your work when you’re engaging with issues at this level. Plus, I think my past experience qualifies me for this role and allows me to be ahead of the learning curve.
How have you been involved with the engineering faculty and its constituents?
I was the Sexton Campus Director last year. I did many things in that role. Generally, I represented the interests of Sexton students at the DSU, and then made sure the DSU’s services are accessible downtown. The best example of this is the three Sexton society fairs that I co-organized and that allowed all levied societies to have more visibility in the engineering building.
There are more specific things that I also did as Sexton Director. Chief among those is co-leading the Sexton-based portion of the #RejectTheReset campaign against the fee hikes introduced last year, as well as introducing an Ethical Investment Policy that saw the DSU direct its investments away from companies known to profit from human rights abuses.
Since January, I have become more involved with the Dalhousie Undergraduate Engineering Society by taking on the role of VP Communications. This position has allowed me to talk to students about what the society is doing, understand what it is that they need, and then connect them to the people who can help.
What is your favourite thing about the engineering faculty?
The engineering faculty has its own distinct student culture and, for the lack of a better term, its own rituals. A good example here is the Iron Ring Ceremony that students in their final year go through. Its official name is “The Ritual of the Calling of an Engineer,” so maybe that gives a hint of what I mean. It’s hard to find something similar on other campuses or in other faculties.