Tammy Maniou is running for re-election for the Dalhousie Student Union’s vice-president (internal) position. She is studying biochemistry, molecular biology and philosophy.
Two students — Maniou and Daiyam Basharat — are running for the position.
The below snippets of the Gazette’s interview with Maniou are edited for clarity and grammar.
What makes you a good candidate for vice-president (internal)?
I think the main assets that I’m bringing to this position by running again, is that, at the end of the day, I had the opportunity to experience the growing pains that any person would experience when entering the position. I’ve also gotten to see what isn’t exactly within my position and how my position relates to the rest of the DSU, which isn’t necessarily working as well as it should. And this comes down to a few different parts.
I think one is that we’re exiting a world of [COVID-19] wave after COVID wave. We’re finally able to enter not necessarily a post-pandemic reality, but a much more physical and in-person reality. And there’s this need for a few societies to repair their relationship and build something new out of that. I tried to create support with the societies and allow them to collaborate with DSU. But at the end of the day, it is a culture that needs time to cultivate. And I think that it’s something that I have made an effort of doing.
I think the other thing is we have a lot of new staff, for example, that I’ve gotten to work with this year, who have excellent ideas. We have a good rapport and we really want to help them flourish with their ideas.
What are your goals as VPI?
There are things about [the DSU’s] government documents that I would love to have some input into. They brought a lot of policy review committees over to the DSU, to basically make the designing policy more equitable. For example, at the moment, if a society owes money to the DSU, they technically are not allowed to ratify unless they figure out their situation very quickly.
However, I find this a very inequitable thing. And it is something that causes discord with societies because there’s a big enough turnover. And then we have to tell people, “Hey, you can’t ratify because you have debt.” And people justifiably are like, “Well, I didn’t create that. Why can’t you like, provide me with certain privileges.” The union is here to support students and support societies. And I think that finding a better solution for that is more equitable.
I’m currently working on a recommendation around how privileges are given to certain societies because I think certain societies — especially those representing marginalized groups — will ultimately need more support than others. For example, the Muslim Student Aassociation, I’m having talks with because I’m trying to advocate for a permanent prayer space for them on campus. They’re pretty much on their own; they’re a general interest society, [meaning] they don’t have support from a specific faculty or relationship building.
What would you do differently if re-elected?
I don’t have enough of an ego to be like, “Oh, my God, I was so perfect this year.” Absolutely not. I think there are certain things that I simply didn’t take care of on time, like ratifying certain societies and sending out emails about bursaries. That’s something I’m still struggling with.
I think there’s stuff about how I approach relationship building with the administration because sometimes, they’ll send an authoritative, irritating email. So you’ll make certain assumptions about people based on how their words are represented via email. I found that once I put that aside and put aside my own presumptions, I was dealing with people who brought their own side of things. They care. They have the same goals as me.
What do you offer to the position that your opponent doesn’t?
I deeply care about this position. I want to make sure that people can come to me for anything that they need. I think the staff is very motivated when you have an executive that they can actually see, ask and actually know. That if they “knock on her door, she’ll answer me and value my feedback,” which is very important because our staff have been working here for years. And [long-tenured staff] have such good feedback, right?
I think the other thing that I bring to the position is a lot of knowledge of the inner workings of the DSU. At the end of the day, being an executive and a team leader is about knowing how to delegate. It’s about knowing your key strengths and weaknesses and being able to adapt accordingly.
I think another thing is I’m a bit of a policy nerd, in the sense that I am very interested in looking at our bylaws and policies. I’m starting to notice patterns of things that aren’t working which, when you look at it on paper … it doesn’t really translate to anything. You need to actually see how a policy plays out, to understand when it’s not working to change it.
I think the other thing that I bring is I have experience when it comes to supporting societies on both sides of the field. Not only have I been in this position for a year, but I’ve also been a society executive when societies struggled the most [during COVID-19]. A lot of them died. A lot had a similar size to the one I was a VP of. [The others] died during my time and I managed to keep ours alive.
Cover photo: Dalhousie Student Union
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