A new year, a new V.P.

Getting to know Jessica Kearney and her plans for the 2017/18 year

By: Gregory McGrath-Goudie

If you’ve spent more than a year at Lakehead Orillia, there’s a good chance you’ve met Jessica Kearney, the Student Union’s newest V.P. Orillia. She’s a recent graduate of Lakehead’s Concurrent Education program and she has been consistently involved in advocating for students since her first year. Beginning as a volunteer for Lakehead’s various student campaigns, she went on to become the campaigns commissioner in her 2nd year, before sitting on LUSU’s Board of Directors in her 4th and 5th academic years. As we progress into yet another year of academia and student life at Lakehead Orillia, The Argus took the opportunity to speak with Kearney and discover her plans, hopes, and concerns for the 2017-18 academic year.

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Kearney’s plans for Lakehead Orillia are worthwhile and seem to be achievable. She states that two of her main goals are to see more student club activity on campus and to implore the university to transition to water-bottle free status. She says that “one of the big goals we’re working on is [having] a water bottle free campus, meaning that one-use plastic water bottles won’t be sold on campus anymore. We’re a LEED certified school, and people shouldn’t be paying for water because it’s a basic human right.” The school’s LEED certification denotes its commitment to environmentally responsible construction and operation, and the removal of one-use plastic water bottles from campus would definitely reflect LEED ideals.

Though there are many student clubs at Lakehead Orillia, they haven’t always had a major influence on day-to-day campus life and Kearney would like to change that. She says that she “would like to see clubs reach their full potential on campus,” which would give students more opportunities to join and befriend like-minded folks and would enrich the campus environment overall. However, Kearney also points out that space on the Orillia campus is an ever-present issue, saying that “booking any kind of space at any point in time is very difficult for clubs, for students to book out a classroom to study or for me to be able to put on events.” Perhaps one positive to take away here is that students are at least using the space granted to most of its potential, though there is always room to build a tighter-knit, more engaged community.

Beyond working towards a more environmentally friendly campus and encouraging clubs to interact with students on campus, Kearney hopes to maintain the same standard of campaigns and events as we’ve seen in the past. Her and her team are already off to a great start, having hosted Lakehead Orillia’s inaugural Booze Cruise, a welcome-back party on Orillia’s very own Island Princess, a ship outfitted with a local DJ and of course alcohol for students over the age of 19 to enjoy. There was also the annual trip to the Rogers Centre to see the Blue Jays, which sold a record number of tickets this year. Some of Kearney’s plans for the rest of the semester include the upcoming Consent Week, which aims to generate discussions around consent culture. There’s also the Mental Health Outreach Week to look forward to at the end of October and there’s definitely going to be more to look forward to as the year progresses. If you can’t wait for the next article to arrive, though, feel free to drop by the LUSU office and find out what’s going on!

PC: LUSU/The Argus