Name: Dhruv Bhatia
Hometown: New Delhi, India
Program: Masters of Engineering, final year
Relevant experience: I started my student political career at Dal. I was the Academic and External commissioner for Jacqueline who was the then VPAE for the DSU, so I worked along with her on so many issues, like the Bill 100 rallies. Another is I remember specifically we de-collaborated with SNS (Students Nova Scotia). I got to work on two major issues within just three months. I was the graduate student senator, and because of that I was given the opportunity to sit on Senate. I represented on Senate discipline committee and I represented on SAPRC (Senate Academic Programs and Research Committee).
Why are you running for this position?
I’ve worked with two VPAEs, and the best part is that I’ve worked with so many people at the stakeholder’s position that made me really interested to work on this position because I believe it’s all about just activism. You know, getting the work done.
What do you want to continue that John has already started?
John has started so many different things. I worked along with him on Senate. He has already expanded the student Senate seats from seven to 22. The representation of grad students has lowered, however, but the equity seats have grown. I want to continue his philosophy of making it more respectable for the complete community. I want to work on the mental health issues, I want to work on the tuition issues, I want to work on the differential fees, I want to work on expanding the entrepreneurship and innovation activities, which he hasn’t been able to touch upon, and I want to also work on the staff and student solidarity because that’s going to be the main agenda with how we are going to attack tuition fees and differential fees. My main agenda is R.E.S.P.E.C.T.:
R: revamping mental health education & issues
E: expanding entrepreneurship and innovation activities for all the students
S: staff/student solidarity
P: promoting the international grad students
E: equity, equitable seats and making Dal more affordable and equitable
C: connectedness. I want to foster the working of different groups in a connected way.
T: tuition and differential fees
How could the DSU engage more students in its advocacy efforts?
So many people are disconnected. So many societies, so many people and groups are disconnected. The position is more of an activist one, however if you keep on portraying activism, then that’s not going to help because every other person that’s coming into this university who’s coming to Dal’s community is not an activist – they may be just coming over here to study and to get a good job. How will they get a good job if they can’t get a good degree? How would they be able to get a good degree if they can’t pay all the expenses, and how would they be able to afford it? There has to be a number of jobs, and a number of employment opportunities, for everybody. That’s my vision, and we can do it only by expanding the innovation and entrepreneurship at the very grassroots level. Recently, Dal has also got $1 million in funding and that money is only going toward entrepreneurship. None of that money is going for teaching or research. That’s my vision, to utilize all that money so that people can utilize the maximum potential of that money so that they can combat tuition fees and differential fees.
What advocacy efforts from this year do you believe were most effective?
I believe that John was a good student activist from what I’ve seen. He has represented on so many things, he has protested against the BOG (Board of Governors), he has protested outside their offices as well, however the student involvement has been pretty low. It’s all about giving the good rally propositions and it’s not about being an activist. The people who are sitting at the BOG, we have to give a good rally proposition, and that would only be possible if we are to give a nice rally proposition so that our work can get done. As I said, it’s all about rally propositions and less of activism if you want to engage more and more people and get work done.
Do you believe the DSU should join any external advocacy groups? What one(s)?
I strongly believe that we shouldn’t join an external advocacy groups. I have full trust in the autonomous structure the DSU is maintaining at this time.
What is your reaction to recent proposals that tuition in some faculties will be raised more than 18% over three years?
The majorly affected areas are engineering, pharmacy, and the agriculture campus – and that’s a huge crunch. It’s even worse if that person is an international student. He has to pay differential fees, as well. We have to come up with different strategies and play it very strategically. It’s not about activism – it’s about getting out work done. I have got so many different strategies lined up with me and I’ve got different rally propositions for every other person that’s sitting at the top so that our work can be done.
What do you think of John’s performance this year?
He has done a respectable job. He has done a tremendous job. He has done so good in the Senate. He has expanded the student Senate seats from seven to 22, which is a huge achievement. So far no other Canadian university has been able to achieve the equitable seats on the Senate, that’s a huge achievement because that’s what we’re working for. We’re working for the concept of respect. It’s all about respect.