Sarah Kohut, president
A conversation with her parents during the Christmas break was a turning point for Sarah Kohut to set her mind on being the next St. Thomas University Students’ Union president.
She was at The Cellar Pub & Grill when she found out the official results. She thought it was going to be announced out loud but when results came out, everyone started checking their ballots on their phones.
“I was like, ‘No, no, no, I’m going to wait until it’s announced.’ But then everyone turned and looked at me and said ‘Congratulations’ before I got a chance to look myself and then my initial reaction was like, ‘Oh, crap, this is real now,’” she said.
Kohut, who ran unopposed, said the possibility that you may get more “no” votes than “yes” can’t be eliminated.
Kohut is the current vice-president student life and said that she ran for president because she’s always looking for growth and more opportunities.
“Even though I loved my role as VPSL, I really wanted to grow and explore other avenues.”
She said vice-presidents get a good chance at getting to know students and talking to them, which is something the president does too. But the president also gets to watch the student councillors and executive team grow, and supervises and helps them achieve things for the school year, which Kohut said is something that drew her to the president position.
In the 2018-19 academic year, Kohut was STUSU’s social inclusion representative and a residence advisor in Harrington Hall. During her first year, she was a wing representative in that same residence.
She knew she wanted to stay on the student union during her fourth year but she didn’t know in what capacity.
She said there was self-doubt along the way but it went away after she talked to her parents.
“They basically kind of called me ridiculous. They were like, ‘Why are you doubting yourself? You absolutely can do this.’”
She’s excited to see what STUSU and the executive team will accomplish. She said a lot of passionate people have been elected.
She wants to be remembered for her passion for her role and her passion for students.
“I would want people to remember me as someone that gave their all to the role and was dedicated and really enjoyed doing what they do, because they love it, and not for any reason, besides the fact that they’re passionate and they really care,” she said.
She said the biggest challenge is the learning curve that is associated with the position.
She wants to take a retroactive approach and ask councillors at the end of this school year what has been accomplished, what they feel hasn’t been accomplished and what should be accomplished next year. Then, she will gather that knowledge and transform it into what will be accomplished for next year.
Matt Oram, vice-president administration
Matt Oram, who was re-elected as vice-president administration, said he was even more excited than last year when he found out this year’s election results because it meant students want him to keep doing what he’s been doing this year.
He said he thinks it’s harder to get re-elected than to get elected the first time.
“To get re-elected you have to do a good job that first year, so to know that the students thought [I did] a good job this year is good to see,” he said.
Oram was in his STUSU office when STUSU President Husoni Raymond called him to tell him he’d won. He’s excited to continue the same job he fell in love with this year. He said now he doesn’t have to transition, which gives him more time to do work.
Before being vice-president administration, Oram was part of the student advisory committee that Raymond set up during his time as vice-president administration.
He said he’s most excited about coming up with new initiatives for next year’s mandate like centralizing applications for committees and gauging more clubs and societies.
“I hope that I’m able to provide even more initiatives for the students to make the student experience better.”
For next year, he said he wants to promote where student funds go with the student body.
“[It’s] so they don’t think the student fees are going nowhere.”
Megan Cormier, vice-president education
Megan Cormier was at The Cellar Pub & Grill when she found out she’d been elected. She didn’t know how to open the page that showed the election numbers but said everyone was shouting out who got elected.
“I asked them twice … I was in shock that it was actually me,” she said.
“It felt surreal.”
Cormier, who is double majoring in human rights and philosophy, said she had some difficulties with campaigning. On the third day of the campaign, 12 of her posters went missing. The stolen posters later appeared again after the campaign, which can disqualify candidates.
“People who openly sabotage you, I think that’s so wild for a student election.”
This year, Cormier is a STUSU off-campus representative. Before nomination period started, Cormier went through all the positions in the STUSU bylaws and tried to understand what each role does.
She thought of running for a Board of Governors representative position at first but felt like she wasn’t doing her part.
“I’m super passionate about student engagement and I felt that if I were to do Board of Governors I was just hiding in this confidential group.”
She said she’s excited about being engaged on campus but also travelling to promote STU student needs to the federal and provincial government. She said student advocacy is important.
“A lot of students don’t understand why these protections are important and being able to educate students on CASA and the NBSA and shape the priorities of these groups is really exciting to me.”
Cormier said that in first and second year she was one of those students who didn’t know what the student union was.
“But once I got into it, I absolutely loved it.”
Kyle McNally, vice-president student life
Kyle McNally was at a mental health conference in Halifax when the election results came out. McNally, who ran unopposed, said he was a little bit shocked but excited.
“There’s still a possibility, because that is one of the big challenges of running unopposed, to get more ‘no’ votes,” he said.
McNally has been involved with Residence Life since his first year, when he was a wing representative at Harrington Hall. He was a residence advisor during his second year and this year he’s a residence coordinator.
McNally said he has seen an increase in drug use in residence during his experience with working for Residence Life. During his mandate, he would like to implement Naloxone and Narcan training to Residence Life staff and residence coordinators and depending on the circumstances, the student body as a whole.
“We have different students moving into residence each year, some who take drugs, some who are already recovering and some who are willing to try it. For safety reasons, I think that this training is imperative to have on our campus.”
He would also like to have a concert during Welcome Week or the Winter Carnival. He said he doesn’t know if it’s going to happen for sure yet, but he’s working towards it.
McNally worked as the STUSU activities coordinator this year.
“Planning stuff for students and ensuring that they maximize their time is something that I greatly love doing.”
McNally had been thinking of running for either president or vice-president student life and said he was conflicted between the two positions.
But after discussing with some friends and with current vice-president student life Sarah Kohut, he decided vice-president student life was more up his alley about a month and a half before nomination period began.
McNally said he’s most excited about making sure students are enjoying their time at university.
“It’s much more than academics … Social life and events play a really big part of students’ life at university.”