Olivier Kayitaba – Candidate Profile

RUNNING FOR VPEA

Olivier

Ballot blurb:

“Fearless Badgers! My name is Olivier Kayitaba and I am running to become your next Vice President of External Affairs. I’m a fifth year political science student with a minor in French. This year I had the absolute honor to serve you as the Chair of the Board of Directors of Brock Universities student union. I’ve been involved with the school in everything from; working for BUSU as a deputy returning officer. Volunteering for Amnesty international, my own working group Mama Si Mama, food not bombs, Brock eastern African student association, roots, and play makers just to name a few. I have three main priorities on my platform; save students money, mental health awareness, and sexual assault awareness. My most important priority is to provide you with accountable, transparent, and honest governance. Governance that is only concerned with serving you better. I am ready to deliver. Vote for change.”


 

Candidate Interview:

 January 29, 2016

To the best of your understanding, what is the role and responsibilities of the position of Vice President of External Affairs?

“The Vice President of External Affairs’ role is to lobby for and represent Brock University students on a federal and provincial level. Students’ unions across Canada get together and bring students wants and needs to policy-makers. The 30 percent off tuition grant was one such successful lobbying effort to the provincial government.”

Why have you decided to run for the position of VPEA?

“I decided to run for the VPEA position because I felt it’s a time to bring a change to BUSU. I feel that I can bring the change that students want.”

Why do you believe you should be elected as VPEA?

“I should be elected for VPEA because I have the experience, the knowledge, the drive and this may sound corny, but I care what students want. I want to represent students to the best of my ability. I’ve served three years with BUSU – I was hired as the deputy returning officer, and have been involved ever since. Last year I was elected to sit on the BUSU Board of Directors, after which I was promoted to Chair of the board by my colleagues.  But most importantly, I feel I’m a strong candidate because I a wide range of volunteer experience that has really given me a chance to connect with Brock students. Since my first year I volunteered for OPIRG; started my own Not-for-profit organization Mama Si Mama, which raises awareness of the rape epidemic in the Congo; volunteer for Playmakers; Amnesty International; the East African Student Association, and ROOTS ACS.”

If you needed to summarize your platform into three main issues at Brock that you believe need to be addressed, what would they be? How do you plan to address these issues?

  1. “Saving students money: If elected VPEA, I will lobby for the right causes. I want to lobby for a tuition freeze. Secondly, I want to run a referendum to defund the Brock Sexual Assault Centre, because right now it’s not operating as effectively as it should. But to be clear, I want to take it down only to build it back up stronger than ever. I plan on doing so with the help of different student groups on campus.”
  1. “Mental health programs: There’s a good mental health program that I want to introduce for Mental Health Week. It’s an excellent project called the “I am possible” focusing on mental health and suicide prevention. I want to schedule speaker, events, and programs, that will run within the week to help raise awareness about mental health and equip students with the tools they need to overcome mental illness.  The first time I ran for office, I lost. The loss, in addition to personal life circumstances, overwhelmed me and I went down a depressing spiral. Thank God I had a friend who had experienced the same trauma in the past who guided me to recovery by advising where I could get help and what tools were available on campus. I want mental health to be as recognizable as the school gym. Everyone knows where the school gym is, everyone should also know about mental health. Let’s break the silence.”
  1. “Silence is not Always Golden: The campaign is an idea that I started, thought about a way to bring people together who has been affected by the lost of a loved one…we could run a bereavement and programs directed by a professional in the field and the goal is to gather people and heal. Adding this service, I hope that it will have a different effect and improve the quality of care available. Might be more helpful than one on one councillor time for all students.”

If elected, what would you do differently from past VPEAs?

“One thing I would do differently is directly to student needs. Current and past VPEAs have not done a great job. For example, the grocery shuttle took students to one of the most expensive grocery store in the city. My lobbying efforts will be strongly focused on what students really need. I am not demeaning or discarding the efforts, but I do feel that I can dig a little deeper and affect students in a more direct manner and help with things they actually struggle with in their day to day life.”

As a current member of the BOD, what have you noticed in the institution and BUSU that you believe should be addressed?

“Aside from the platform points, and the lobbying points that directly affect students. what I would do better, is that I would represent. students better at large, and look good doing it. I will always behave in a humble and respectable manner, but most importantly not let this position of service, turn into anything personal or egotistical. Or in different words, not let power get to my head.  One of the issues with BUSU is there can be a lot of misrepresentation of the organization through people’s actions. I really want all of us to be united with one things, the principle that we are here to serve students. Not here for personal vendettas, not here to play house of cards politics, and definitely  not here to be kings of the castle and just flaunt our rings and robes. We get elected by students, get paid by them as well, if I may add, so it should never be about US. I want to directly serve students as effectively as possible. I will do this at 110 per cent. Everything we do should be with a student first mentally. That’s what I desperately want to bring with me into office. Because to be honest anyone can have a good platform and say nice things.”

Additional comments:

“Dear Brock students, first off, thank you for electing me last year as your Board of Director, it’s been a pleasurable year, I learned so much, and it inspired me in ways I never expected. My biggest wish is to serve you on the VPEA platform and represent your needs, with integrity, honor and dignity. It’s time for a change, and I am going to deliver that change.”

 


 BROCK TV INTERVIEW:


 

Platform:

“Mental Illness Platform.

Mentall illness is an issue that effect a lot of students, but unfortunately it’s not a topic that people discuss openly often. We are all aware that there is such a thing as mental health, but very few know how to identify it, cope with it, or even get help for it. That’s not necessarily the students, but rather the culture that surrounds topics like mental health. Well I want to take a step in slightly changing the culture here at Brock University. We have mental health week and different initiatives focused on assisting students but we could do it better. Universities mental health agenda is something that should get better and better every year just like enrollment. This can only be accomplished by consistently working to improve our mental health week with new goals and fresh ideas.

I would like to introduce to Brock University student’s the I’m Possible project. The I’m Possible project is broad way Theatre and Youth Suicide Prevention key note program brough to you by a certified suicide prevention gatekeeper and national public speaker Joshua Rivedal. Joshua tours country and speaks to large crowds on mental health related issues, but most importantly he facilitates different programs with schools on how to approach the mental health topic in a manner that works.

His suicide prevention presentation is divided into three parts; a play, keynote style speech, and a question and answer period. The presentation is approximately two hours, covers what we need to know regarding mental illness, provides an opportunity for student’s to talk and connect on the manner, and gives you the tools on how to deal with it on a personal and platform.

I am going to start this program the week before the fall reading week and continue the mental health theme with different activities taking place throughout the week. Different activities like yoga and or massage day to get people destressing and thinking about mental health. Another day we are going to have line dancing taking place during lunch hours. On the third date we could have a room where adult coloring is being offered to promote de – stressing as meditation.

The week is going to be filled with a variety of similar programs, and I am going to use my resources with advocacy to make sure all students are aware of it. This will assure me that we’re slowly pounding away at the silence that surrounds mental illness, and more students will know how to deal with mental illness.

Please view the attached I am possible project file to learn more about the project, and Josua Rivedal.

 

Saving Students Money.

The reason I got into Brock University politics is because I wanted to improve student life, and in my oppinion there is no better way to do that then financial relief. Even if we are limited in many ways on what can actually be done to relieve students from financial burden, there is however small things that can be done to make a difference or create an impact that will lead to change in the future.

I am going to lobby for a tuition freeze.

  • Tuition is capped at 4%/ year. There are two main reasons why tuition goes up every year, and that’s eductation costs and admin costs. Education funding gets cut, while admin costs keeps on going higher, only cause the school gets bigger and bigger I want to work with OUSA and lobby the government to stop the education cuts and keep the cap 4%. I also want to work with the Board of trustees and OUSA to see what can be done about the escalating admin costs and if it can maintaned without negatively effecting the university.

Silence isnt always Golden:

This project is something new that I want to bring to Brock because I know it will help student’s that has lost a loved one and are deeply effected by it.

Silence isn’t always is a program intended to gather people who have lost loved ones to unite in a group setting and open up on their experiences. The goal is to have them open up on their lost, in doing so it providing therapeutic relief to the grieving student. The program will be hosted by a volunteer professional from Niagara hospice and it will run for approximately an hour, usually in the mornings. The volunteer will be in charge of the bereavement group and is open to run any different style programs they find will best fit. To protect student’s identity and encourage them to join I will make sure the highest form of confidentiality is applied, and student’s wont need to register to attend. But will be well aware that it’s happening. I am going to run this program once a semester to start it off, and depending on the response it can be adjusted. I will ensure that the we follow the safe space protocol, to keep the environment discrimination and judgement free so all students regardless of they come from and what they believe can feel comfortable and at peace.

I really hope that by having a bereavement groups like these at Brock will assist student’s who are suffereing from the pain of losing someone they love. I don’t want students to have to stretch past the walls of the school to get help for something that we can easily provide.

Sexual Assault Awareness

I want to touch on something that a lot of Brock candidates won’t even look at it either because it’s not on their priority list, or  because it’s a super sensitive topic that clashes with too many internal politics. One thing I can always thank Brock for teaching me through different working groups and classes is how important women are to our community. I will never forget the first time I ever started my own working group through opirg, which was called Mama Si Mama. Mama Si Mama is a non for profit organization in the Republic Democratic of the Congo that assist women who have been victimized by the rape epidemic in the Congo. I opened a Brock chapter to raise awareness on sexual assualt, educate student’s on the mineral war happening in the Congo, and fundraise money to help those women help themselves. Since that moment in my life, a strange feminist bug must of bit because I became really curious on women related issues. I started to attend a variety of conferences, and seminars within and outside of Brock. I learned, but the most important lesson I learned, and the saddest, is that sexual assualt is not too far away. I was ignorant in the manner that I thought it only happened to a selective types of women, or women who lived a certain life style, but oh boy was I wrong.

As a men in this society, I can not and will not say that I know what it takes to improve the quality of life women live. Women are the ones who need to dictate us on what we can do to improve their quality of life. I really want to raise sexual assault awareness on campus, to break the silence, and empower women to speak up. I won’t be the one to do it. I am going to work with different female led groups on and off campus and help THEM create different conferences, and programs that will allow people to get together and talk about this sensitive subject. Either it being through a guest speaker, either it being by supplying different groups with the right tools to run a successful conference, I want to do something. I know sexual assault is something that no Universites that I know of can say have never been effected by it, so why aren’t we taking productive steps to face the issue I know this can be done without tarnishing the universites reputation , matter fact I believe it will uplift it. Let’s just seat and talk. I will be using my advocacy team to make sure student’s are aware of all the events happening on campus for sexual assault awareness and will be doing so in a creative matter that actually attracts students to come. ”

 


 

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