Name: Kathleen Reid
Hometown: Thornhill, Ontario.
Program: International Development Studies and Creative Writing
Nominated for: Vice President (Student Life)
Relevant Experience: Four years with O-Week with a year as head leader for Cameron House; a year on the O-Week committee; a year as orientation week coordinator, commissioner with the DSU, FreeSchool Coordinator, head TEDx Halifax Event Coordinator, Dalplex lifeguard
Dalhousie Gazette: What should be the main priority of the VPSL next year?
Kathleen Reid: This one is pretty straightforward: student engagement. Getting students involved to their best ability, and there are multiple ways we can do this. Community building, so, making sure that students are of aware of the events that are going on and including them in the planning process. Putting more faith in our students to plan events through myself as a VPSL, rather than just [planning events] through an administrative perspective.
Also, reassessing the VPSL portfolio in a way where [we’re] looking less at just planning events and looking more at how we can shift student life on a day-to-day basis. So if there is an issue, like you’re walking through the Killam and you think that door there is too heavy, that’s also student life.
Also, it’s really important to provide a diverse array of events. Having a big ticket concert is sweet and everyone enjoys it, but I think also that if you are into a three-on-three soccer tournament, that should also be provided. So, looking to A) engage students in every way possible, and B) reallocating the VPSL portfolio. Looking at events and also looking at those smaller issues and providing students with better budgets for planning events.
DG: If there was one student event that you could remove from the social calendar, what would it be?
KR: What’s cool about the VPSL position over the past couple of years is that it’s really evolved from being the VPSL planning events to the VPSL providing students with the resources to plan their own events. So in that sense, I don’t think there is any one event that is required to be on the social calendar except for the obvious ones that are under the VPSL portfolio, which are around five events total. I wouldn’t necessarily take any of those out.
I think it’s more of taking the events we have and revamping them. For example, there is a huge potential for Grawood programming to be a lot more than it is in terms of including students. We could have more society nights in the Grawood, or have societies sponsor really popular events like Sex Toy Bingo, for example.
DG: What do you like to do on weekends?
KR: I’m a student so I do a lot of homework on the weekends. I also work three jobs, so that takes up a lot of my time as well, but in general I like music a lot so I go to shows when I can swing it. I’ve recently been to a couple of cool shows here at the university – I went to see Dan Mangan at the Rebecca Cohn and that was awesome.
I play a lot of Settlers of Catan, stuff like that. Recently, in the winter, I’ve been hitting up Wentworth and going skiing. I also spend a lot of my time on my weekends here [at the DSU office], in the events that I work with through my commissioner position. I’ve worked with Danny [Shanahan] a lot for the past couple of years planning Grawood events and shows that are separate from O-Week and DalFest, so I’ve been working under commissioners on TEDx Halifax but I’ve also been working on other events, and that takes up a lot of time too.
DG: Have you ever been kicked out of a bar?
KR: I don’t really see the relevance of that question to my campaign or to the VPSL position so I am going to go ahead and choose not to answer. If students are looking to see me in a bar scene, I am at the Grawood a lot on Wednesdays for trivia.
DG: What book changed your life?
KR: The DSU constitution. I’m kidding. I am a Creative Writing student so I read a lot of books, and therefore it would be really hard for me to pick just one. But recently, I read a book by Joseph Boyden called The Orenda. It’s basically about the colonization of Canada and the background behind the colonization of our country. I really enjoyed it because it is a tripartite narrative, so there are three different perspectives: one is a young girl who gets held captive by another Aboriginal tribe, another is a man who is one of the leaders of that tribe, and the third is a clergy from France who comes over and is trying to convert Aboriginal people to take on the Bible and take on God as their saviour. It’s really interesting because not only is it cool to learn about the background of our country and the country that I live in, but it’s also really interesting to look at the different perspectives and get a wider gauge of different views of our country.
DG: What’s your top band to bring to DalFest?
KR: I think DalFest is such a cool event because you really get to see a lot of different students from different aspects of student life coming together. So in planning DalFest, the only way to do it correctly and gauge the most students to come is to hold voting polls: to pick a couple bands and then to [reach out to students] on social media and say, “Which one would you most like to see?” I think that’s the best way to engage students and get them to want to come out because they will feel like they’ve had a hand in helping to plan DalFest.
I think next year more than ever, we’re going to want an EDM act. As one of the non-main stage acts, but that’s going to be more of a demand. I think it’s [also] really cool to keep things Canadian and keep that perspective in, but it’s also cool to bring other people in. We live in the Maritimes so it’s sweet to get a little folk rock in there as well. As usual, I think DalFest is an awesome opportunity, maybe because it’s two nights, to get a wide array of really good music in. We need to ask the students what they want to see.
DG: What did you think of the performance of Danny Shanahan, current VPSL, this year?
KR: I’ve worked alongside Danny over the past couple of years in a lot of the events that he’s put on. Danny is really good at putting on a huge event that is going to bring a lot of students out. He’s organized in that way, and he can really bring a lot of people to things such as DalFest. He’s pretty experienced and because he’s done the job for two years, he knows how to do huge events. I think because he’s been in the job for two years, the portfolio hasn’t changed for two years, so it’s going to be really interesting. Even if it’s not myself who is the new person in the job, new people bring new perspectives and new ideas to the table.
So, just seeing some more diverse events and alternative events: for example, I see a huge opportunity to do different events at the same time. If we’re having a huge concert, I’d like to see something for people who might not like loud music to go to, like something in the SUB that’s a lot more chill and laid back, like an acoustic set. So, making sure that there’s a balance there in events. There is a lot that can be learned from Danny’s experience, and also from past VPSL’s experiences. There’s a huge shift when Jamie Arron became VPSL towards the position that it is today, and I’m stoked for a new person to hop in there who’s got a different view.
DG: How will you make O-Week and Dalhousie campus more inclusive?
KR: I think this year there’s a ready opportunity to make Orientation Week merge with International Orientation Week. I’m not sure how many people know this but international students have their own orientation week that occurs beforehand, and they are more than encouraged to come to the regular O-Week that we plan here at the DSU. But, they do have to pay for both, so I think that I worked a lot with Kewoba, who was the international orientation week committee planner, and getting experience from her and talking to her about what they were putting into international orientation week. I think it would be really cool to get the O-Week committee on that and say if international O-Week happens for, let’s say, five days before O-Week, let’s give them a huge discounted price on our O-Week and have a lot more events that would include them. I think the main thing for international students for orientation week is that they might not know what orientation week is. They’re coming to Canada; they might not know exactly what a field party is. It’s a carnival on our field, but that kind of thing they might be wondering why they’re paying a hundred plus bucks to go to an event that they might not understand. I think communicating that in a more broad way and communicating that before they get to Canada, so before they’re so overwhelmed, they’ve gone through everything. They have to do so much in that first week. So just trying to find a way to include them more is really important to me.
Also, when I was on orientation committee two years ago, I founded a committee called “Alternative Events”. When main events were going on we had simultaneous events going on at the same time, for the first time, for students who might not want to go. For example, we throw what’s called Black and Gold night in the McInnie room and it’s a huge dance party: lots of lights, and lots of fog, a lot of people love it as their first party night. But then a lot of other people might find that really intimidating, people who might not know how to hop out into a crowd and dance with people the first time they’ve met them. So we put on a different event going on in the yurt which called “Express Yourself Night”, and it was more focused on an open mic talent show with pre-planned performers, and people could hop up if they wanted to.
Another one, for Orientation Week on campus: I’ve had a lot of experience working with Orientation Week in creating leader training. We give a whole weekend to leaders for training for O-Week and also we give online training that they have to complete in order to be a leader. I worked with the Equity and Accessibility office to create a lot of that training. Implementing that training in a way that would go out to more students than just leaders would be a way to A, make O-Week more inclusive in an informative way, and B, make our campus more inclusive.
The campus inclusivity question is a lot bigger than the O-Week one, because with O-Week we can train our leaders, we can provide events for every walk of life that comes to the events, but with campus it’s really a question of shifting a culture in the DSU and within our school. So, having more education and resources provided for students who might not know about sensitivity training [or] gender equality issues. It might not be an issue of them not wanting to know about it, it might just be an issue of them not having it at their fingertips.
This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.