First black STUSU president elected

Husoni Raymond will be the first black president of St. Thomas University Students’ Union.

Given it’s Black History Month, Raymond said the timing feels perfect.

“We made history together,” Raymond said.

“That feels like a really good accomplishment for my race and the university in general.” 

Raymond was elected as president in the STUSU general election on Feb. 23, winning by 144 votes.

For Raymond, campaign planning started five months ago. But he knew he wanted to be president one month into his first year of STU. 

“It’s always been my dream since my first year as the vice-president external of Harrington Hall [and] attending my first STUSU meeting and seeing the execs give reports on the great things they have been doing to impact student life on campus.” 

Since then, he’s been STUSU’s vice-president administration and a student representative on St. Thomas University’s board of governors. He’s also been involved with the STU Debate Society as its founder and president, has been on the executive of St. Thomas University International Student Association and was an amendment captain of the moot court team.

His experience at STU has had ups and downs he said, but overall, it’s an experience that’s close to his heart. 

Raymond said completing his undergraduate as president will be the perfect way to give back to the community that has given so much to him.

“I have a passion for just impacting the student life on campus to make our campus a safe space and just enhancing the student experience.” 

Campaigning started on Feb. 16. Raymond was the only candidate in this election, and in recent memory, to hand out campaign buttons. He said he ran out of the 200 buttons on the first day of the campaign. Dozens of students shared photos of the buttons on social media in support of Raymond.

“I’ve had [University of New Brunswick] students even come up to me and be like, “Can I have a pin?’ And I’m like, ‘You don’t even go here. But sure.’” 

His promises 

Raymond ran on a three-point platform: innovation and collaboration, enhancing students’ experiences and transparency and accountability.

Husoni Raymond (right) chats with 2018-19 St. Thomas University Students’ Union president Brianna Workman (left) after the STUSU election results are announced at The Cellar Pub. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ) AQ Photo Editor | The Aquinian

Regarding innovation and collaboration, he said he wants to listen to students to find out what issues they want addressed and how they want them resolved. He wants to develop partnerships in the Fredericton community and listen to and support marginalized students to make STU safer and more inclusive. 

His second point focused on helping students become proud of their university. He wants to make and sell STUSU clothing and accessories. He also wants to celebrate students’ achievements on the notice board in James Dunn Hall and promote athletic games and student initiatives on campus through social media. 

His third point is transparency and accountability. He wants to continue to hold executive office hours in JDH. He wants to inform students of the student union’s work with infographics and continue the STUSU weekly newsletter.

He also included a fourth point on his Facebook event. He said he wants to be approachable and supportive to students, council members and STUSU vice-presidents, especially with mental health and sexual violence committees and the federal Get Out the Vote campaign.  

He said each of these promises work in partnership with one another, but he also said the role of president is a supportive role. 

“With the president, it’s more of supporting the VPs and supporting our community in general and making a broad impact,” Raymond said.  

The executives

Raymond will be joined by newly-elected vice-president student life Sarah Kohut and newly-elected vice-president education Ailish Mackenzie-Foley, while the position of vice-president administration remains vacant. There will be another election after the spring reading week to fill the position. 

Mackenzie-Foley and Kohut said they plan to get informed before working on one particular thing.

After that, Mackenzie-Foley said she will start amending STUSU policies, such as the sexual violence policy. Kohut said she’s not sure what she’ll do first.

“So far, I feel this year is going to be great,” Mackenzie-Foley said.

“We already know each other so I already feel like we’re going to be so well-versed to work with each other,” said Mackenzie-Foley. 

Newly elected St. Thomas University Students’ Union president Husoni Raymond (centre), vice-president education Ailish Mackenzie-Foley (left) and vice-president student life Sarah Kohut (right) fill three of the four positions of the STUSU 2019-2020 executive team. (Caitlin Dutt/AQ) AQLayout | The Aquinian

Presidential candidate and vice-president student life Bibi Wasiimah Joomun lost to Raymond in the STUSU president race. After the defeat, she said she’s not sure if she’ll run for the vacant vice-president administration position to get a spot on the student union for another year. 

“I might consider it but … putting another campaign on is very draining and very tiring. But I also love the STUSU and would like to be home.” 

Joomun said she was happy with the results even though she wasn’t elected.

“As a proud friend and a fellow colleague, I’m very happy for [Husoni]. I knew that whoever was going to be elected was going to be an amazing president.” 

Humble beginnings 

Raymond has loved advocacy since he joined Respect Jamaica, an advocacy group, when he was 16 in his home country Jamaica. During his time with the group, they hosted workshops to inform people about their rights.

Raymond said he loves to work with people and make a difference in lives, even if it’s just one life.

“Just knowing that people are impacted by your work is what keeps me going and that’s always the goal, to impact people positively,” he said.

“It feels good to be ending my four years as president of the student union.”  

Raymond and the other elected STUSU executives will start their term on May 1, 2019.

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