St. F.X. students have elected new leadership.
Annie Sirois and Patrick Panet-Raymond are the president-elect and vice president-elect (academic), respectively, of the St. F.X. Students’ Union for 2017-18.
“I have always been someone who wanted to get involved, but never really had the courage to,” Panet-Raymond said, when asked about his decision to run in the January election.
He noted, after the first-round call for candidates, there were none for vice-president.
“I said ‘you know what, why not?’”
The third-year human kinetics student collected 41 per cent of the vote to capture what turned out to be a three-way race.
Sirois, a third-year political science major, noted she has been involved in student politics for almost a decade.
“I like to say that student politics is my life,” she said.
Since serving as a St. F.X. frosh councillor, Sirois added her goal has been to become students’ union president.
“And, over the last couple years, I served as a councillor and, this year, I am vice-president external,” she noted.
Sirois said “there was a lot that I wanted to get done.”
“Being president will help with trying to be able to execute all those,” she added.
Sirois garnered 65 per cent of the vote in her victory.
Both touched on the pillars of their election platforms.
“I want to provide international students with free and immediate MSI coverage, so that is something that we are going to work on with the provincial government,” Sirois said.
She noted providing that service to those attending Nova Scotia universities would carry an approximately $600,000 price tag – $100 per international student.
“I also want to put students-at-large on every single student union committee to make sure that we are representing demographics that aren’t often seen in our students’ union, as well as providing students with more leadership opportunities; recognizing that not all students feel comfortable to put themselves out there and election and campaign for other positions,” she added.
Sirois also wants to work with Panet-Raymond to advocate to St. F.X. Senate for more transition courses.
“These are courses that are more applicable to field work that they want to pursue, outside their undergraduate degree, because right now what we are seeing is a lot of discrepancies and vacancies between what’s actually taught and what’s necessary in the field, once they graduate,” she said.
Sirois also wants to work with St. F.X. administration “to regain some extra fees.”
“Specifically, the capital campaign fee that was used to fund the KMC renovations,” she said, noting that measure was approved through a students’ union referendum.
“It is still being collected, but there is no student consultation on where that money is being spent, especially given that it was a student union referendum that brought that money in.
“We feel as though it is just to make sure that there is student consultation,” Sirois added.
For Panet-Raymond, one of his focuses will be the promotion of social and a reduction of binge drinking. He noted a recent Maclean’s magazine survey that named St. F.X. the top party university in Canada for a second consecutive year.
“Which unfortunately – some students may like it – but it takes a big, big, big toll on the applicants that we get here, because parents do not, obviously, want to send their kids to a binge drinking school; that’s what we are being known as now,” he said.
On that issue, Panet-Raymond wants to be able to work with residence affairs representatives.
“To be able to drink in the more common areas – promote a more social environment – because, right now, it is very hard to enjoy yourself and have a social drink, in a social setting, in residence,” he said.
Panet-Raymond added that pushes students off-campus, “where [drinking] can’t be controlled.”
“Anything and everything happens off-campus,” he noted.
Panet-Raymond wants to focus on mental health, including first-aid counsellors, “to introduce mental wellness in the classroom.”
“There are many – I know many people – that are currently fighting with mental illness,” he said.
“That only leads to kids dropping out [of university], getting poor grades, not feeling well, having trouble waking up in the morning and having trouble going to sleep at night; there are so many effects.”
Panet-Raymond also ran on the idea of “revamping and re-introducing” the Bringing in the Bystander program, which he noted focuses on the prevention of sexual assault.
“Right now, it is a little – I feel – under-appreciated and a little overlooked, at times,” he said, noting that, when he decided to run, there was only one person working with the program, which now has two.
“That is a step up, but it is still not enough because sexual assault is a big problem on campus and it can affect anyone at any point in time.”
Panet-Raymond also wants to contribute to the effort to introduce an interdisciplinary degree involving the Schwartz School of Business and the Department of Human Kinetics.
“It has been up in the air for a couple years now,” he said.
Panet-Raymond noted there are “vision meetings” planned for this summer.
“Not necessarily a completely new program, but a new stream of classes and a new stream of degree that you can into,” he said.
“Sports, right now, are one of the biggest businesses in the world. I wish I could have done that; I would have loved to been able to – as a human kinetics student – take a minor in something such as marketing.”
Sirois noted that these are the issues that both ran on in the election.
“We will be hiring the new executive team. We will, hopefully, have the whole team hired by next Wednesday [Feb. 8],” she said.
“And, with each one of those, they will bring their own goals. From there, you, kind of, pick and choose; you have team goals and you also have personal goals that you want to execute throughout the year.”
Both agree students also raised myriad issues during the campaign.
“Especially during the second debate, where it was more open for students to ask questions,” Panet-Raymond noted.
He said that forum provided great feedback for the new executive.
Panet-Raymond and Sirois will take office May 1.