On a sunny afternoon in quarantine, the sun sliding off window blinds crisscrossing over my face, I venture through the great unknown of Facebook Call to talk face-to-face with two of our finest, Zexi and Rachel, running as a slate for the Marianopolis Top Jobs.
Zexi, what is motivating you to run for President?
Zexi: I am a very involved student: I’m in business clubs, literature clubs, and cultural organizations. I think Marianopolis is really a place where extracurricular involvement is encouraged. I want to share that passion for implication with the widest audience.
I want to invest my own time to help the diverse student body reach their set of equally diverse goals; listening to others is very important to me. I want to work hard in the background as President to represent everyone appropriately. I want to make sure the Congress Machine to work smoothly to alleviate pressure from students.
As for my ambitions, I’m someone who is very versatile and nonpartisan, in that I want to find out a neutral, objective truth. I want to take up a career in law. Not as a lawyer, but as a judge. Ultimately, I want to help people with the judicial system.
Rachel, what is motivating you to run for Vice President?
Rachel: As soon as I got to Mari, clubs were the most interesting part of life here. They improved my experience significantly. What I really want is for clubs to thrive by reaching all their goals and objectives. For example, Mari’s Got Talent wants to put up 2 talent shows next year. I also want to encourage first years especially to start their own clubs, by make the creation process more transparent. In the short term, one of my goals is to attend a top university; I’m thinking Harvard, Waterloo, then find a career I enjoy, but I don’t know specifics of that yet. In the back of my mind, I want to finish writing a fantasy book!
What sets you apart from the other candidates? In which ways are your experiences and perspective unique?
Z: I like to surpass myself and to always learn more. I’m involved in a lot of clubs, because I want a certain versatility. I’m not just interested in MUN or competitions, but also partake in clubs that involve workshops, conferences, and group discussions.
I play high-level competitive badminton. It’s very much on-the-spot. You train a lot, many hours and many nights of preparation. In competition, the pressure is on and you’re on the court, you have to show what you learned and practice – not just by spitting it out wooden, but by performing. You need to demonstrate that you’ve improved and know what you’re doing. The experience of being under pressure in badminton will translate to my presidency. I can handle all the responsibilities, the deadlines, all the answering and coordinating of subcommittees. For example, the covid-19 situation was a very unexpected turn of events. It’s not something you can prepare for in advance.
Our slate stands out from others in that I feel like others are very much numbers-heavy. They have a lot of statistics and support for ideas that seem unfeasible. Us, as a slate, we want to value ideas that don’t come in with a ton support already. Transparency and feasibility are the most important things. We don’t want to overpromise.
R: My experience as executive of Mari’s got Talent let me realize the diversity of the student body, but its unity in wanting to make the Mari experience better. As editor-in-chief of student magazine Euphoria, I had another chance to witness that diversity. Euphoria is a truly open platform: our first issue had articles on science, make-up, self-care, and short stories. It showed me how multi-faceted the students are.
For each of our ideas, we’re trying to make student life better in ways that can be backed-up in ways that are helpful. It’s not only about listening to concerns, but to go the extra mile. Not just solving a problem on a surface-level. For example, while editing an article, instead of correcting a grammar mistake, I worked through the concept with the student. Maintain the interaction until the problem is completely, and not just pushing it back.
What do you think is the most challenging aspect of the position of President and Vice President and what will you do to overcome this issue?
R: Since there are so many clubs, the most important thing for me it to help every single club to reach their goal. To solve this, we will increase communication, by bringing to attention the club executive forum on Omnivox, to communicate with Congress directly. We also want to put the focus on smaller clubs.
Z: The transition back from the covid-19 situation. If I were elected president, I will have to lead the re-adaptation process. Currently, there are a lot of issues raised by students: for example, certain students aren’t satisfied with paying their full tuition. We will receive a lot of complaints, a lot of input, and on top of that we’ll need to accommodate new students who come in CEGEP while losing half a year of secondary school! They will feel even more lost than we were. An important challenge is making students comfortable at school in spite of the covid-19 situation.
R: We will prepare a lot of welcome events for new students to get to know each other, get to know Congress, and to get around campus, to feel at home!
Z: We will bring back a lot of fun events, such as Krispy-Kreme AP, pancake mornings, and other type of festive activities.
R: For new students, we will place emphasis on how we have the Learning Resources Center and the English Writing Center there to help them for free if they feel like classes are going too fast or if they have gaps in their learning.
Z: We will instill preventive measures, put up panels reminding people of hygiene habits. We will also Install maps, especially with all the construction. To smooth the back to school period, we will hold a book fair, where students can purchase used coursepacks, textbooks, and other books. We will give everyone an opportunity at school to do transactions, and thus maybe save a trip to Concordia.
By what metric would you measure your success as President and Vice President?
R: Promise-keeping. We want to accomplish as much of what we say we want to do during our campaign. Another is how good communication between Congress and students is.
Z: I like the word metric! We want to introduce a dimension of innovation to Congress. Because Congress is pretty good as it is, improvement often seems marginal. Students are mostly comfortable at school. We want to find the new issues, the niches, that haven’t been addressed yet. This is what I mean by innovation.
As an example, the image of Marianopolis is very much negative in the eyes of other CEGEPs. We are portrayed as a toxically competitive environment. But in my experience, no one’s ever destroyed another’s notes! New students will come in stressed about grades and performance, but the truth is that it is a very welcoming and warm environment! We want them to have a stress-free experience, and not be burdened by stereotypes.
Do you have what it takes to stand up for student interests against the administration and ensure our voice is not only heard, but acted upon?
R: I don’t think talking to admin is very different from talking to students. We can think critically. Congress organized the Climate Strike, for one. I think I would be able to as well. A brief reminder that the administration’s goal is not to go against the student body! Again, communication is important. Talking to administration shouldn’t be intimidating, it’s our responsibility to show them our perspective.
Z: I am a good listener, I can think critically, analyze, and argue. I have the students’ interests in mind, and I will bring that to the table. I want to stress, thought, that we are working with the director.
Being President or Vice President of MSU requires decisiveness. Share some examples of your ability and willingness to be decisive.
R: We had to design our campaign posts carefully! My strength is in being able to weigh the choices between the input I receive from students, from student services, from administration, and from faculty.
Z: In high-stakes situations, for example the Climate Strike in September in which a lot of students wanted to participate, the important thing is to not be pressured by numbers. I would discuss with administration to get their side of the picture too: are there reason not to do the March? I would have weighed the administration opinion more. Ultimately, the interest of the students is what we have in mind. Often, administration does know better.
If a student asked you for advice on how to have a positive impact on the Marianopolis community, what would you tell them?
R: You’ll have the biggest impact when you do something you’re passionate about. People will see your passion and interest, and these qualities draw people in. For example, I recently saw this piece of artwork from Princess Zelda on Facebook, and that made everyone happier! That was something impactful, because you can just see she cares about it.
Z: Mari students tend to be competitive, accomplishing projects to be the best, for better grades, etc. I would tell new students to help others accomplish their goals. By helping others, I believe they will help themselves, because it is the community that is strengthened. It’s a huge wave of help that will bring everyone up.
R: As an example of what Zexi said, people often come to me for help before Calculus exams and are often worried that they’re bothering me. Actually, by helping them, I am actually revising better, because I have to sort through all the concepts more clearly. They are, in a way, helping me study!
In your opinion, what value should Congress respect the most when it comes to representing its students?
R: Transparency is the most important issue. For example, on the night of March 12, students were very forceful and exerted a lot of pressure on Congress for information. We would have tried harder to get them a clear response.
Z: Standing up for the students. I will always think to find the best solution for them, without always giving in to the mob.
What is your vision of the perfect Marianopolis community?
R: I want to see clubs really succeed!
Z: Where everyone will feel home at Marianopolis, where people help each other out, where we are inclusive and open-minded.