VP External

By Jamie Hellewell

Four candidates are vying for the position of Vice-president External in next year’s Students’ Union: incumbent Nassr Awada, Christa Big Canoe, Melanie McNaughton, and Paul Novosad.

The VP External has the responsibility to represent students at the civic, provincial, and federal levels. Issues dealt with include university funding, financial aid, and student employment issues.

Awada, McNaughton, and Big Canoe all explained why they are running and what they feel are the most important issues for the upcoming year. Novosad did not respond to our attempts to contact him.

Awada identified some of the important goals for the upcoming year as lowering lending rates, securing a tuition freeze, increasing employment programs, on-line application procedures, and increasing scholarships and bursaries. Awada is also the current VP External.

"Experience and continuity is key in this portfolio like no other. I have been VP External this year and I know all the specific details of all the issues and won’t need half of the term to spend learning about the SU and issues," said Awada. "I would like to ensure the SU stays transparent to students I would like to see as much consultation with students as possible, where ever possible on issues."

Big Canoe’s experience includes working as Executive Assistant to the Band Administrator on a First Nations reserve. In this role, she was responsible for developing policies and procedures, working with a $160,000 budget for a youth and student employment program, directing 21 students employed under her, and writing and executing fundraising proposals. She is currently the VP External for the First Nations Student Association at the U of C.

"I am open, polite, and "user-friendly." I don’t believe in cut throat politics," said Big Canoe of her character. "I want use my experience to help students. I want to focus on students feedback I want to promote awareness about issues like loan remission. I also want to bring in professionals like bankers and resume experts to give information to students."

McNaughton’s plans include on-campus and off-campus activities.
"I believe the VP External position needs to be refocused: the VP External should not solely be focused on activities in Ottawa, but should direct political efforts toward students on the U of C campus," said McNaughton. "I think I am qualified for this position through my involvement in the Speech and Debate Society (President this year, VP External last year), I organized and ran the U of C Mayoralty forum this year including handling all of the media interviews and coverage, I was the Dec., 6 Memorial co-Chair, [and] I was an appointed External Commissioner in 1997­88."

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