Meet Your CSU Exec Candidates
The Link Talks to Next Year’s Student Union Hopefuls
Melissa Kate Wheeler – President
Fourth-year political science and theological studies major Melissa Kate Wheeler wants to be your next president.
“I have good intentions for the union; I don’t have a political agenda, and I think that’s what the union needs,” she said.
Wheeler has been an outspoken member of the Concordia Student Union council this year, often criticizing the executive for what she feels is part disorganization, part bad attitude.
“[Council] has been vocal against [the executive] because there is a lot to be vocal about,” she explained. As president, she says she wants to improve communication between meetings to help lead a more amicable and effective council.
She’s also heavily involved with the Love Doesn’t Hurt campaign against abusive relationships, so it’s no surprise that Wheeler says creating a sexual assault centre at Concordia is a top priority.
Scott Carr – VP Finance
A JMSB finance major, Scott Carr may not have held political office at Concordia but as the current president of Concordia’s Entrepreneurship and Management Association, he says he can bring some efficiency to the CSU’s financial management.
“One of the major [priorities] is appropriate money spending,” said Carr.
With a handful of awards under his belt, Carr hopes to use his experience in various competitions and what he calls his “well-rounded view of business” to, as he puts it, “take the CSU to places it hasn’t been before.”
Carr will be running against the independent candidate Pierre Tardivo Martin for the position in the election’s only contested race.
Pierre Tardivo Martin – VP Finance
A John Molson School of Business international business student and current CSU councillor, Pierre Tardivo Martin is all about three things: streamlined funding, ethical investments and transparent reports.
Tardivo Martin says he wants to implement an electronic system for funding allocation, replacing a paper system he sees as inefficient and bulky. He hopes to make “FinCom meetings a monthly thing,” where “for each month […] we would allocate a budget.” It’s a strategy he says will make sure funding is evenly available all year.
For Reggie’s, Tardivo Martin said he wants to bring in a skilled business manager and sees institutional memory as key to keeping Reggie’s in the black.
“Without the long-term strategy, I don’t think we can be competitive [or] profitable,” he said.
Tardivo Martin is the only candidate running for an executive position who is not a member of the CSYou team. He will compete with CSYou ’s Scott Carr for the job.
James Tyler Vaccaro – VP Clubs and Internal
James Tyler Vaccaro says he sees the huge potential of VP Clubs and Internal to do great things. Vaccaro wants to help clubs “get back into the CSU fold,” something he’d do partially through creating a clubs council for club leaders to share common problems, as well as creating a single place for outside groups to approach clubs with opportunities for collaboration.
The issue of student space is one Vaccaro doesn’t intend on shying away from, he said, but he also thinks it’s key to figure out what students actually want “before just telling them a centre is coming.”
Vaccaro plans to hold informal info sessions that will “tell students and everyone what’s going on [and] what we need to do to move forward,” all while ensuring students’ voices are heard.
Crystal Harrison – VP Loyola
As a communications major, Crystal Harrison spends a lot of time at Loyola. A large part of Harrison’s platform is her I Love Loyola campaign, a yearlong initiative to bring attention to events and everything else Loyola has to offer.
A big part of this is a facelift for the Hive Café, a space Harrison sees as hugely underused. She aims to have a revamped version of the café by September, as a cheap, local alternative to Chartwells.
While Harrison doesn’t have a specific alternative in mind, she emphasizes that she doesn’t want corporations at Loyola anymore, because “there are so many other alternatives,” and that she will seek input of students in residence.
Gene Morrow – VP Academic and Advocacy
Gene Morrow is a two-year student senator whose reputation is built on activism and representing the student voice on Concordia’s highest governing academic body.
“I’ve sort moved into more of a leadership role,” he said. “So it became sensible to try and take [VP Academic and Advocacy] on.”
Morrow is taking over a portfolio that’s spent the year somewhat in limbo. After her inability to register as a student, former VP Lucia Gallardo resigned in September. The position went unfilled for nearly two months, until current VP Hajar El Jahidi was appointed in late November.
Despite this, Morrow said he is “not too worried about” any gap in training.
Caroline Bourbonnière – VP External and Mobilization
The current president of the Arts and Science Federation of Assocations and former VP Communications for the Political Science Student Association, Caroline Bourbonnière plans to develop a stronger voice for Concordia, particularly when it comes to the Fédération étudiante universitaire du Québec.
Bourbonnière highlighted the considerable amount of votes the CSU has. “We should play a more leading role,” said Bourbonnière. For her, this means reexamining the case for free tuition and ensuring that all voices of the debate are heard, as well as playing a bigger role in creating policy.
She said she already has plans to hold a referendum on the divestment movement by October, following a conference she aims to organize along with VP Sustainability hopeful Benjamin Prunty.
Katrina Caruso – VP Student Life
For Katrina Caruso, VP Student Life can be just about anything, but it has to be “financially responsible [and] has to work with clubs and student groups.”
Caruso, currently enrolled in a joint major in art history and studio arts, says she sees the position of VP Student Life as an opportunity to do what she likes to do: “organize events, manage people [and] plan great projects.”
This means collaborating with the Art Matters festival to promote art projects at Concordia, as well as strengthening inter-faculty ties.
Caruso hopes to boost fine arts representation on council (she’s the only fine arts student running), by recruiting ex-officio reps and then holding a fall byelection. Caruso also hopes to put resources towards the Hive Café, and work with CSU presidential candidate Melissa Kate Wheeler to establish a sexual assault centre at Concordia.