Introducing: Armin Escher. SU President
I grew up in Sylvan Lake, and I actually came down here for the Ed program, which I’m no longer in, but that was my reason for coming here.
What are you studying?
I was doing science education, and then I did a year in the Ed program and decided it wasn’t for me. Now I’m just finishing off my geography degree.
What made you decide to get involved in student governance?
It was honestly sort of on a whim. A couple of years ago I figured “oh, I might as well do it,” but it was always in the back of my head. The first couple years that I was around it kind of looked interesting. Then I just went out and did it one day, and ever since then I’ve been involved. I guess every year now I’ve been getting more involved and it’s been really great.
Why did you decide to run for SU President?
I’ve seen all the work that they’ve been doing and I really wanted to give back. That was sort of my main thing – why I wanted to do it. I also think it’s going to be a really great experience.
Before you were involved in the SU, what were your impressions of it?
I thought it was a little bit of an insiders’ group at first, which, sometimes it is, and I can see how the impression gets out there. I sort of went in as an outsider at the time, and it was really interesting to have a different perspective at first from what was going on. Over time you get to see that the people who are on the executive council, the so-called “insiders” – the reason they are insiders is because of all the experience that they’ve had already. It’s sort of a double-edged sword: it looks like you have to be on the in to get there, but if you’re not, you have to try hard anyway.
What are some of your goals for the upcoming year as SU President?
My biggest thing for next year is, obviously, keeping the advocacy going. We have to be strong advocates for students, especially to the provincial government. The University Board is looking at, right now, passing a policy regarding the mandatory non-instructional fees, and we’d like to see more involvement of the students than what they are proposing right now. So, one of the big things we will be doing is working with both the university and advocating to the government to have more student involvement, because the government can technically veto this policy: we’ll see what happens, and if it does that’s great for us. We would then work with the university to create the policy that the government wants. If the government chooses not to veto this policy, then we’d be advocating to the government to have a change in that.
Do you have any specific strategies to get students more involved on campus?
Yes and no. That’s always the hardest thing: everyone always runs on the “apathy” platform and I honestly stay away from that a little because it’s sort of — everyone always does it and no one does anything about it, unfortunately. It’s just rhetoric at this point. We will have to look next year. I want to see if we can increase our social media presence; we have it but I’d like to see it increase somehow. That’s going to happen, and we obviously have to discuss it. The Students’ Union has, right now, a Facebook page and a Twitter account, and they are followed – okay. It’d like to see if we can somehow increase that.
I guess the biggest thing is getting the information out there for everyone. We don’t want to be shoving it down their throats, but we want it to be easily-enough available that people who would be interested can see it. A lot of the time you hear a lot of comments of “Oh there weren’t enough people at these events” and people say it’s because they didn’t hear about it. We use posters and the TVs around campus a lot but not everyone looks at those. We have to look at making sure everyone has access to the information.
Are you planning on utilizing the mobile app more for communication with the students?
Oh, absolutely. It’s very new this year, and I know that it’d be great to make the event’s section of the app a little more user-friendly. It is pretty easy to use, but there are a few tweaks that could be made, so we have to look at how we set it up. A lot of it was made for us by a company that we hired, so there’s going to be a lot of stuff we can’t change without going through them. We’ll see how that goes. I’d really like to use it more, and try to make it as user-friendly as possible.
Anything you’d like to add? Any advice for the students on campus, or anything you’d like to say to them?
Thank you? I guess the biggest thing is don’t be afraid to get involved and go to things if you’re interested. I know that there are certain things that people want to do, but somehow there’s always the excuse not to go but I’d encourage them to just go. It can’t hurt, and actually, it could be really fun.