ICYMI: A recap of STUSU spring election debates

    Julia Evans, Anahi Alvarez and Alex Nguyen debated their platforms in the race for St. Thomas University Students' Union executives. (Collage by Aaron Sousa/AQ)

    The St. Thomas University Students’ Union hosted debates for their executive positions on the students’ union for the 2022-23 academic year over a two-day period from March 8 to 9.

    There are candidates running for president, vice-president student life and vice-president education. There is no one running for the position of vice-president administration.

    Voting takes places March 10 to 11 and results will be announced at 6:00 p.m. on March 11.

    Vice-president education

    STUSU hosted its vice-president education debate in advance of the spring election on March 10 and 11. The sole candidate, Julia Evans, answered questions about her platform Tuesday evening.

    Evans is in her third-year studying political science and human rights. She said her educational background prepared her for running for this position. Her studies in human rights taught her that advocacy is multi-dimensional and needs to be looked at in an intersectional way. Evans is the current STUSU at-large representative.

    • Her platform points are: to advocate relentlessly internally and externally for quality and equitable educational opportunities; to bring awareness to the “real cost” of education; and to urge for more affordable education for domestic and international students alike.
    • She said with her past experience of being on the students’ senate, working as a student senator, working as a first-year liaison and being the current at-large representative – she is experienced in internal advocacy.
    • She said she thrives under pressure and loves being involved. She took six courses per semester, worked on her thesis proposal and worked 20 hours per week in order to prepare for the time management of an executive role.
    • She said from a provincial aspect, she’d like to focus on issues that are unique to New Brunswick citizens and STU students such as provincial operating grants. She said she’d also look at bigger issues like mental health.
    • As a small university, she doesn’t want STU to be overlooked in the federal setting.
    • She said her campaign slogan is “advocacy everywhere and for
      all.” She said the everywhere is twofold, meaning she wants to advocate both provincially and federally. She also wants to bring advocacy closer to STU and ensure students know how they can be involved in advocacy. She said the “for all” part of her slogan is the multi-dimensional aspect of advocacy.
    • She said to promote equity at a provincial level, she will advocate for international students because they are a major contributor in New Brunswick.
    • She said she wants to bring advocacy closer to students because it’s important in the pandemic era. She said switching from online to in-person classes can be hard for students and it’s important to have student voices heard.
    • She wants to have more on-campus campaigns and ways for students to share their voices.
    • She wants students to feel supported on campus and know that mental health resources are available.

    Vice-president student life

    STUSU hosted its vice-president student life debate in advance of the spring election. The sole candidate, Anahi Alvarez, answered questions about her platform and took questions from the audience Wednesday afternoon.

    Alvarez is a third-year international student from Ecudaor studying psychology and gerontology. She is the off-campus representative for STUSU, she was the South American ambassador for STU’s International Students’ Association in her second year and she co-founded the Latin American Students’ Association.

    • Her platform points are: creating opportunities which enable academic, professional and personal growth for students; and advocating for student wellness, mental health and student engagement.
    • She said COVID-19 is an issue that affects students and clubs and societies. She wants to ensure that activities can be provided in-person but also virtually so students can have a supportive community wherever they are in the world.
    • She plans to balance school and her position as VPSL with her time management skills. She learned the importance of time management and organization from the student success coach at STU, Kathleen Hyndman.
    • As VPSL, Alvarez would be responsible for overseeing services like SafeRide and Community Food Smart. She wants to provide opportunities for students to give feedback on the services – she suggested the idea of a QR code. She wants students to know that their opinions are valid.
    • With the STUSU mental health committee transforming into a Jack.org chapter, Alvarez will act as chair of the committee, but will be there to provide support for those in executive positions. She wants to promote engagement in the chapter to students by raising awareness about Jack.org.
    • She will also chair the sexual assault prevention committee if elected VPSL, so Alvarez wants to host webinars and panels about the importance of the topic. She wants to make sure everything is promoted “in a transparent way.”
    • She wants to make sure domestic and international students have the opportunity to connect through activities like trivia nights, mindfulness events or relaxation days.
    • She wants to form a comfortable working relationship with the activities and events coordinator. She wants to bring activities to campus that are beneficial to students as well as webinars and panels to address mental health awareness.

    Audience Questions

    • Despite COVID-19, Alvarez wants to have different activities that will help students engage and take a break from academics to reduce student stress.
    • With some international students not being able to travel to campus, Alvarez wants to make sure her planned activities will be inclusive of all.


    STUSU hosted its presidential debate in advance of the spring election. The sole candidate, Alex Nguyen, answered questions about her platform and took questions from the audience Wednesday evening.

    Nguyen is a third-year political science major at STU and an international student from Vietnam. She currently serves as STUSU’s vice-president of administration and was the international representative in her second year.

    • Nguyen’s platform points fall under three sections: advocacy, institutional strengthening and student experience.
    • Nguyen said she’s always been interested in bringing student voices to the table. She said if elected, she will go above and beyond to ensure that student voices are heard. 
    • She said she familiarized herself with the workload through her current role and working closely with the president. 
    • Since nobody is running for vice-president administration, she said she would divide the workload of that role among other executives if the position isn’t filled.
    • She will continue to host office hours, be present on campus and encourage students to attend student representative council meetings to increase transparency. 
    • She said she will ensure a supportive environment within the students’ union through constant checks and balances with other executives as well as strong communication. 
    • She said she will push for in-person activities and events, such as the winter formal, to increase student engagement. 
    • She said she will encourage attendance of student forums by working to promote these events online, adding that events like forums are crucial for organizations like STUSU. 
    • She said as vice-president administration, she noticed a connection between student engagement and issues surrounding housing and food security. If elected, she would put an emphasis on advocating for student support in those areas. 
    • She said she would take responsible actions as STUSU’s representative in the media. She would do research before interviews and refer questions to other people if she was unable to speak on the topic. 
    • She said she would build trust with stakeholders to maintain relationships. She would identify stakeholders’ interests and communicate messages in clear and concise manners. 
    • She said she would work with the vice-president education to support them when needed during advocacy on provincial and federal levels.
    • She said she would continue to provide a support network for diverse student groups on campus and create avenues to let them take the spotlight. 
    • She said Indigenous reconciliation is crucial. She will advocate for internal policy changes and hold consultations with the St. Thomas Student Reconciliation Committee and Senate Committee on Reconciliation to ensure the students’ union is moving in the right direction. 

    Audience questions

    • She said the students’ union has worked with the New Brunswick Student Alliance to advocate for eliminating interest rates for students, and she would continue this by working closely with vice-presidents and STU administration on a memorandum of understanding to ensure these asks continue to be amplified. 

    Other positions

    • Lauren Hayes, the current Harrington Hall representative, and Chloe York, a current student senator, are running for the position of at-large representative.
    • Megan Henwood is running for student senator.
    • James Brennan is running for The Aquinian second-year board of directors representative.
    • Catherine LaPraire is running for board of governors representative.
    • Khanh Hoang is running for international student representative.

    Students head to the polls starting at 8 a.m. on Thursday. Voting closes at 6 p.m. on Friday.