A one-on-one with the new CSU president

Christine Beyleveldt, Editor-in-Chief

After serving as a Global and Community Studies faculty representative last year and volunteering her time on the Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) Finance and Audit Committee, Anna Rempel is excited to be stepping into a new position as the CSU president for the 2018-19 academic year. 

“I’m really excited about the team that we have this year,” she said. The five executives have more experience under their belts going into this academic year, and two executives – Vice President External, Noah Berson, and Vice President Student Life, Yats Palat –  are reprising their roles from last year. “We’re really trying to make sure that we’re working well as a team, that we know what we’re doing and that we’re holding each other accountable doing our best for the students.” 

In addition to serving as president, Rempel is the vice president equity and sustainability for the upcoming school year. Part of her mandate is to oversee the collective liaisons and ensure they are well supported in their roles and fulfilling their individual mandates. The collective liaisons meet with their constituents – minority groups on campus or those in need of support, including students of colour, international students, First Nations, women and mature students or parents – regularly. 

However, the CSU board of directors is short-staffed, with three vacant liaison positions and five vacant faculty representative positions. The March election had an unprecedented turnout, nearly 1,500 students voted, but fewer students ran for positions on the board. “The high voter turnout I think definitely had a lot to do with the fact that we brought in online voting for our last election,” said Rempel. “So that made it much more accessible for students, especially on our Sunshine Coast campus, where we really haven’t seen a lot of active participation beforehand but now we actually have a Sunshine Coast representative.” 

Matthew McLean steps into the shoes of Sunshine Coast campus representative this year, the first student to fill the position in several years. Rempel hopes to improve communication between the North Shore campus and the Sunshine Coast now that the CSU has this vital link. 

As for the remaining vacant positions, two students were appointed to the fill the Students of Colour and newly incorporated Mature and Parent Students Liaison positions, but to honour democratic process, the CSU is holding a fall by-election to fill these seats. “We want to provide an opportunity for as many students as possible to be effectively represented,” said Rempel. 

Among Rempel’s priorities this year is the Let’s Get Consensual campaign. The campaign, which addresses sexualized violence and consent, was kick-started last year but took several months to get underway due to scheduling conflicts. Before the CSU could begin hosting workshops, several board members needed to go through training with members of the University of Victoria Student Society (UVSS), who developed the original campaign. The CSU partnered with CapU and rolled out the first workshops in the spring, but going into a new term, Rempel is doubling down her efforts to educate the CapU community about consent and prevent sexualized violence.  

Because there is no Women Students Liaison at the time being, Rempel is spearheading the campaign going into the Fall semester. “It’s taking up a fair amount of my time. But I’m trying to make sure that I’m balancing everything and delegating tasks as I need to, but raising awareness of sexualized violence is under my own mandate so I’m really happy to be working with passionate people,” she said. As the CSU hosts each workshop, they are looking for feedback so they can tailor the campaign to address students’ needs and concerns in the future when someone else inevitably steps into the role to run it. 

However, Let’s Get Consensual is far from the only campaign the CSU is focusing on this year. With the municipal elections in October fast approaching, Berson is rolling out a Shore Up the Vote campaign, which includes the possibility of hosting all-candidates forums on campus leading up to the election so students can register to vote and become familiar with the candidates and election issues. Also in the Fall semester is a provincial referendum on the topic of proportional representation – something Premier John Horgan made central to his platform in 2017. The referendum will take place between Oct. 22 and Nov. 30 by postal ballot. 

Mental Health is also a hot button topic at the CSU. Owen Siggurdsson, the vice president equity and sustainability whom Rempel took over the position from, spent most of the prior year developing a Mental Health Strategy. The CSU is beginning the year with a Social Advocacy Faire on Sept. 5 and Mental Health Advocacy Month later in the semester to raise awareness about challenges students may face and provide opportunities for self-care and rest as midterms approach. 

“Everyone is really passionate about what they’re doing,” said Rempel, referring to the other members on the CSU’s board of directors. And that passion will serve them and students well.  

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