By Gregory McGrath-Goudie, Orillia Bureau Chief
Incumbent VP Orillia, Sami Pritchard, has been re-elected for the upcoming academic year. In the recent election, she won by a landslide, garnering 79.4% of the vote. She spoke with The Argus concerning her victory in the election, and her plans for the upcoming year.
How does it feel to be re-elected? Are you relieved to be continuing as VP Orillia for another year?
It’s exciting! I’m thrilled to have gained the support of our student body yet again, and be able to continue with the work my team and I began this past year. There’s something so amazing about being a part of our student movement, the way in which it brings so many people together and its strength in action are like no other.
I’m not sure if relieved is the right word, I’m going to stick to excited, but add honoured. I kinda have the coolest job in the world – I get to work for and with students, it doesn’t get much better than that. From events, to campaigns, to services and advocacy, I get a taste of it all and in turn am constantly meeting new people and hearing their stories and their passions.
What is the first thing you will address in the upcoming year?
I have a long list of things I would like to tackle and make happen in the upcoming year, as well as things I am ready to better; to choose just one thing that I plan to tackle first and foremost seems impossible. With the beginning of every new year, comes a new team, from new executives, to new Board members, to new staff and volunteers – I’ll tell you right now, it’s impossible to do this job without a strong team, I attribute all of our successes to our team, so I’d say first will be working towards creating a strong team dynamic.
Once our team is established, we will be sitting down to plan our visions for the year ahead and then reach out for student feedback. Creating new avenues to inform and engage and educate students on all things LUSU is a top priority for me. While I do believe we did a great job of creating more avenues and ways to be involved this year, we can always do better and I want to do just that, but to do that, I need to hear from the students. Nothing is stopping us from sitting in the Commons once a month talking with students – whether it’s giving general updates or hearing concerns.
If you were to break down your plans for the year into one major goal, what would that goal be?
Oh gosh, one goal! That’s impossible in this job. The VP Orillia position, by its job description is encompassing of the VP Advocacy and the President on the Orillia campus, so to pick just one goal would be awfully tough. However, I will say, action. Nothing happens without action. I’m ecstatic to bring ever more new and exciting campaigns and events to our campus that have never been seen before – we have the ability to do it, so let’s do it. Just as I said to you when you interviewed me last, I ask a lot from my team, but that’s the nature of working for a student’s union and one that strives to be the best.
Relevant and representative are two key words as well. It’s important to continue to strive to ensure our students union is made to be more relevant and representative of our entire student body, and it’s important for me as an executive to recognize that what is relevant one year to a student body could be different the next as our membership is constantly changing and growing. We have a strong, diverse Board coming in for the year ahead and I truly believe that having such diverse representation is a first step in making our student body the best it can be. Here’s to working with what is sure to be one of the strongest Boards LUSU has seen in a lot of years.
What is your plan to reduce the financial burden on students?
This is a big question and one that I can’t answer alone, which is why I’m happy to be moving into the new year with such a strong executive team and Board, all with different levels of experience and different ideas. LUSU has already made some big moves with contributing $140,000 to student bursaries to be matched by the University. The next step will be holding the University accountable and ensuring that there is a wide range of bursaries made available and to all students. It’s important to ensure that this $140,000 worth of bursaries are made accessible to all, ensuring that students who typically are not eligible for bursaries are – such as International Students. In the sense of the bigger picture of tuition fees, there is no doubt that we will continue to advocate for the elimination of tuition fees at not only the local, but provincial and national level. I’m confident in Farhan’s ability to delve into our current budget and review our own fees as well.