2017 CUSA Election Questions

The 2017 CUSA general elections are underway and we want to make sure mental health is something that is on every candidate’s mind. As such, we reached out to both slates and all independent candidates, and asked them a series of questions regarding mental health advocacy, initiatives, and campaigns.

As per our Constitution, the Student Alliance for Mental Health does not endorse slates or candidates during CUSA elections. However, we recognize that mental health is an issue that is and should be political. Therefore, we have created the following questions, directed at all executive candidates, regarding mental health. We believe in giving all candidates a platform to express their views and plans for mental health, so that students can take this into consideration when casting their votes. All answers have been posted word for word, without editing. As such, we do not necessarily support or agree with all answers, as a club.


Independent: Victoria Lalande

VP Finance

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbeing, and advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

2. What mental health initiatives and programming do you plan on allocating funding towards?

3. How will you maximize opportunities for student consultation and engagement in any mental health initiatives you pursue?

5. How will you work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming, and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities?

I guess this is 1-3, 5 in one answer. As VP Finance, I would like to add a variable to the Health and dental plan supporting those with mental illnesses. I would like to partner with an app called “I’m Well”. They have recently partnered with Mohawk and Brock, and provide 24/7 support through counselling services for anyone who requires any help, guidance and tips to keep yourself healthy. This allows those who may be new to there mental heath and illnesses gain support in a more disclosed atmosphere and can allow those who may need help even getting out of the door in the morning to have that support system always available for them.

4. How would you improve or change CUSA's "Pop the Stigma" mental health campaign?

The pop the stigma campaign is an amazing way to engage with students, and has been growing each year. I would like to see more actual awareness on the issue rather and treatments, because sometimes I think we over look the real purpose. This would be by having more open talks about the mental health options on campus, and maybe small focus groups to allow those struggling to find a support system. I think this would be something I would have to work with my other VPs, if elected, to gain more insight into.


Independent: Ruth Lau-MacDonald

VP Internal

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbeing, and advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

As VP Internal I will make sure that we involve clubs and societies in events, programming and training across CUSA. I’ve proposed a dedicated fund within the Clubs and Societies budget that gives additional funding to groups who train and educate other members of our community. The Student Alliance for Mental Health provides workshops that aren’t available anywhere else in the CUSA community. I believe that CUSA should be investing in groups like SAMH as they fulfil their mandate and serve our community. As VP Internal I will make sure that our association establishes clear policies that ensure the consistent and timely training of staff. I believe that training our employees is a priority that should fall under the responsibilities of CUSA’s management team so there is consistency and accountability, primarily our staff need to be trained in peer support and suicide intervention so they can support students in crisis. As VPI I will use my position and resources to advocate for increased mental health services on our campus. I will also make sure that student groups like the Student Mental Health Advocacy Collective receive support from CUSA as they continue to work on the Mental Health Framework and advocate for students. Per my plans for refocusing on students as owners, I will also make sure that CUSA’s outreach efforts include consultations on the Mental Health services available at Carleton. We need to connect our work across campus and speak out together as we pressure the Carleton Administration for services that students need.

2. What mental health initiatives and programming do you plan on allocating funding towards?

The Vice-President Internal is charged with ensuring that the financial requirements of Clubs and Societies are brought to the attention of the VP Finance as well as having final authority over all Clubs and Societies. That being said, I feel that funding for Clubs and Societies should be allocated based on what the group submits to the funding committee as well as that group’s ability to connect their work to the values of our student’s association. CUSA’s fundamental values of service, development, diversity, and community should be deciding factors in the allocation of funding. I plan to prioritize funding to student groups that are active on campus and whose programming and initiatives have a positive impact on our community. With dedicated funding set aside for Clubs and Societies that facilitate workshops and training within the CUSA community, I plan to invest in a system where knowledge and skills are shared throughout our Association.

3. How will you maximize opportunities for student consultation and engagement in any mental health initiatives you pursue?

As VPI, it will be my responsibility to coordinate and oversee both CUSA Council and Clubs and Societies; I plan to offer both groups training throughout the year. Because mental health and illness have such an impact on the lives of students (and people in general) I intend to provide both Council and Clubs and Societies Executives with training that introduces them to the topic of Mental Health along with information related local resources and supports. I believe that having leaders who understand mental health and illness is a factor for our resiliency in our community - these leaders will likely be called on to support their peers throughout the year. I want any training we implement during my term as VPI to address issues or concerns that students identify themselves; and I want skills workshops to proactively address needs identified by today’s leaders so we can lessen the learning curve for future leaders. When developing these workshops, I plan to reach out to student groups using surveys, town-halls and by sitting in with groups in their own spaces so I can appreciate, first hand, where and how they do their work. I also feel it’s important to collaborate with departments within Carleton and as well as reaching out to community agencies so that we aren’t duplicating services or developing training we already have access to. I will maximize opportunities for consultation and engagement by outlining a schedule for training workshops and member outreach before taking office in May – it’s important to start this work before the end of the 2017 winter term so that the knowledge and experience of today’s students guides my plan for the coming academic year.

4. How would you improve or change CUSA’s ‘Pop the Stigma’ mental health campaign?

I’ll improve the ‘Pop the Stigma’ campaign by making sure that there are consultations with both CUSA Council and Clubs and Societies when planning and evaluating the campaign. I’d like to establish a practice of including key stakeholders on campus in the planning process and allowing for a collaborative approach to these campaigns. We need to make sure that our campaigns are meaningful and address the needs of our community; there’s no way that any Executive team will be able to consider or plan for the needs of all students. This year we saw community led workshops by overeaters anonymous, Islamcare and SAMH. In 2017, I would like to include more Clubs and Societies in ‘Pop the Stigma’ so we can bring the campaign to life among our members. What this looks like will depend on students, but I see it as opening up a dialogue with students about how being involved in a club, team, organization or other group on campus can be a form of self-care and can help support a person’s mental health. In my capacity as VPI, I would also engage with CUSA Council so that student representatives participate in ‘Pop the Stigma’ as well as promoting it among their faculties. I feel that this approach will result in a campaign that draws students in and expands our reach. I’d also like to see more of our service centres engaging in ‘Pop the Stigma’ so that coordinators can discuss mental health and its impact on the communities those centres serve – but that wouldn’t be my portfolio as VPI.

5. How will you work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming, and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities?

CUSA prides itself on its commitment and belief in a Safe Space as well as the issues that fall under the Safe Space Umbrella. However, I don’t feel that this commitment specifically addresses accessibility and the barriers faced by those of us who live with a mental health disorder face in our everyday lives. I feel that this response takes more than one answer. Firstly, I believe that we need make sure that CUSA gives people the opportunity to submit feedback using an online form; this ensure confidentiality and allows people to submit feedback on their own terms. Secondly, in order to ensure that CUSA’s events, programming and services are accessible, we need to consult with those groups who have the knowledge and the collective experience needed to make recommendations on accessibility. Thirdly, I believe that this questions touches on the diverse nature of the events and programming we offer through CUSA; by holding our events in different spaces we expand our opportunities for engagement and attendance. My fourth consideration for accessibility at CUSA is to have staff and volunteers who are trained in peer support and/or crisis intervention so that they can help when there is a need. The spaces we choose, the language we use, and how we approach differently abled members of our community all play a role in making our spaces and events more accessible. By being empathetic and thoughtful, and by listening to people when they tell us what they need to feel safe and supported, we create spaces that are not only safe but accessible.


Independent: Caleb Broeker

President

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbeing, and advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

I am actually currently unaware myself as to how CUSA could support systematic change for mental health services. I’m unaware of how much CUSA offers SAMH in terms of help and dollars, but I do know that I am more than willing to learn and hear from the members of SAMH, to hear what they really desire. The whole idea behind my campaign is putting the power of CUSA in the hands of the students. Currently, we elect a government, and then the students never hear from CUSA leaders ever again in terms of what students want to change at school or want to implement. It’s time to change that. The PINK policy allows all students to poll and vote on, constantly, every week (if not more frequent), on what they want to see change at Carleton. Here's the kicker. If I listen to SAMH’s requests, and then advertise it in the PINK polling, and the students really, really want to fund what SAMH desires, then CUSA MUST act to accommodate and fund what the students desire, which is what SAMH desires, yeah?

2. What mental health initiatives and programming do you plan on allocating funding towards?

Again, this should lie in the hands of the students, not mine. It’s not up to me to say, “Oh, I would love this!”, Or, “Things should be this way!”, but rather, my job as a President should be to ask the populous, “What mental health initiatives do you, the people, want to fund?”. This is their money. This is their power. It should not be up to me.

3. How will you maximize opportunities for student consultation and engagement in any mental health initiatives you pursue?

4. How would you improve or change CUSA’s ‘Pop the Stigma’ mental health campaign?

Aha, now this is something that’s much easier to do, that may not even require student dollars, but rather, hard work from people such as myself. When it comes to informing people and maximizing the awareness we could put out on stopping mental health stigmas, the PINK policy could actually help a lot here. Remember, the PINK polling is not just for financial allocation, but also questioning what students want and are into at the time. If it would benefit the population by informing them of false stigmas through the PINK website, or even better, collecting data on who still has stigmas on mentally ill people, we can allocate information to the specific people who still have these stigmas. The PINK policy can also be a very helpful information tool in this case, and I’m sure that we can spread a lot of good information if it gets passed.

5. How will you work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming, and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities?

If people identify to have mental disorders, or if they are interested about learning, we can easily make information more accessible by informing them through the PINK surveys and polling. Those who are mentally ill, or those who show interest in attending events or simply want to learn, could easily say so in the weekly polls by opting in for information from SAMH. If events are upcoming, the people who opt in for the notifications or information could all be informed at once.

Personal note: I don’t want to promise if I will be financially active in supporting SAMH, because that’s not my choice, if I have not made that clear. But, I am more than happy to help give students the option to learn through any power I can, and any free time I have. Mental illness is a big issue to me, considering I work with a lot of people who are mentally challenged in my workplace, along with close inside my family. The more information I can help spread, the better.


Independent: Danny Ford

VP Student Issues

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbeing, and advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

I believe to much money is wasted on services and products no one uses, like the 20,000 spent on yearbooks, 10,000 spent on agendas, several thousands spent on CUSA's travel expenses, and the financial black hole that is Oliver's (though dealing with that won't be quite as simple). I fully intend to use the money I hope we, the newly elected executives, will save in order to better fund advertise the incredibly important services we have available for Carleton students.


One Carleton

Slate

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbein, n advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

All candidates of One Carleton recognize the immense responsibility to students that elected student leaders have, but also understand that with this comes great opportunity. It is the job of all executives, no matter the position, to focus on issues that students face, and work with administration and their own resources to deliver real results and aid. It is important that all executives listen to students, first and foremost. CUSA and all of its spaces should be a safe place for students to listen, learn, and speak up. One Carleton will continue to improve the messaging coming from CUSA’s communication office regarding awareness and language around mental health and illness. By increasing mental health services and initiatives, One Carleton can address student concerns surrounding the health and wellbeing of themselves and others, all the while working with University Administration to use resources on their end.

2. What mental health initiatives and programming do you plan on allocating funding towards?

Many of One Carleton’s policies have the mental health of students in mind – and this is reflected in the fact that wellness is throughout all candidates platforms. One Carleton plans to train all CUSA employees and lead volunteers in mental health first aid – allowing individuals to identify and formulate a support plan for crisis intervention, grief and loss, violence survivors and addiction. Short of clinical intervention and counselling, by introducing a peer-to-peer support program, any undergraduates can receive effective, confidential and financially accessible services. As we know, mental health has different shapes, sizes and forms; and One Carleton wants to introduce staple items in the university that enhance wellness such as nap pods, menstrual products in washrooms, night coffee and healthy study snacks, as well as a lounge in the atrium during midterms and exams to allow students a moment to distress. By reinventing and rethinking all CUSA service centres, a diverse group of students and their needs can be reflected, and Health and Wellness centre can be welcomed to its full potential. One Carleton’s collaborative budget with monthly report will allow students to keep all executives accountable about these financial allocations.

3. How will you maximize opportunities for student consultation and engagement in any mental health initiatives you pursue?

The One Carleton team is committed to working towards students wants and needs. Holding open consultations with students on a regular basis is the best way of hearing student voices. We would conduct online surveys, Atrium “Town Halls” and send direct emails to students and mental health focused student groups to ensure we hear your opinions. One Carleton would pursue any other method of student consultation that is suggested!

4. How would you improve or change CUSA’s ‘Pop the Stigma’ mental health campaign?

This year, Pop the Stigma saw more collaboration with student groups on campus. One Carleton hopes to continue and expand this, as spreading student talent as well as building leaders is something that we believe is beneficial to the University community. Additionally, communications can always be enhanced - and student groups can even be reached out to for this outside the CUSA Office, such as involving Sprott marketing students. Peer to peer support should also be offered at all events if students feel uncomfortable or triggered.

5. How will you work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming, and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities?

Every year, CUSA works to make sure CUSA events, programing and services are accessible to all. With One Carleton’s reinvention of service centres, the services that CUSA provides can be restructured in a way that allows all students to access them - no matter their ability. Also, it is important that activities that might be sensitive matters to some are either provided with a warning to students, or altered in a way all can enjoy.


Change

Slate

1. How will you use your position within CUSA to educate members on mental health and illness, support student wellbeing, and advocate for systemic change to mental health services, programming, and policies?

As a team, Change is dedicated to principled activism work, particularly around the issue of mental health. From an education standpoint, we want to continue to expand the role of the Health and Wellness Resource Centre into beyond just smoothies and yoga, but into the central home for mental health services at CUSA. Change is committed to intersectional and inclusive practices that extend throughout our training of staff, services, programming and campaigns, expanding Pop the Stigma from simply an awareness week to a year-long action plan. We will devote increased resources into mental health programming and training, anti-oppression around mental and psychiatric disability and will use our platform to advocate for more inclusive therapeutic options on campus. Indeed, our Presidential candidate, Ashley Courchene, has already used his position as VP Student Services to introduce new policy allowing for the allotment of financial support from the Accessibility Funds for students who are turned away from services by the PMC.

Change has the track record when it comes to mental health. Our VP Finance candidate Greg Owens has been an executive for 3 years with SAMH. Change has been on the front lines for this important student issue, and promises to continue to foster increased partnership with groups like SAMH, SMHAC, Jack.org, Cam’s Kids, and local community groups to ensure we support those living with mental illness and the mental health of all students.

2. What mental health initiatives and programming do you plan on allocating funding towards?

Change has a number of plans for mental health initiatives and programming that we are excited to put forward to SAMH and the rest of the Carleton community. First, our VP Student Services candidate Zophia Brobio plans on relocating the Health and Wellness Resource Centre into a larger location (the current location of REC Hall and Mawandoseg), as a part of our efforts to maximize the current CUSA spaces. For those worried about REC Hall and Mawandoseg, they will both be relocated to larger spaces as well. This centre will receive the addition of a second coordinator, who will allow for expanded hours and resources to be available from the HWRC. We plan on training both coordinators and senior volunteers in a variety of mental health, peer support and anti-oppressive practices so that this centre can become a central location for students to receive immediate peer support. Additionally, we would develop a series of resources for students, including a reference book with reviews of community mental health services from other students, as well as workshops on how to support a loved one with mental illness.

Additionally, VP Student Issues candidate Kenneth Aliu would be expanding the Pop the Stigma campaign into increased advocacy and action year round on Carleton Health and Counselling Services, local community services and organizations and political representatives to ensure the mental health of our members is supported not only when they are on campus, but also out in the rest of the community.

3. How will you maximize opportunities for student consultation and engagement in any mental health initiatives you pursue?

Change believes that the work SAMH, SMHAC, Jack.org and other organizations on campus have allowed for voices around mental health and illness to begin to be heard by CUSA, other unions and administration. Given the large role that SAMH and SMHAC in particular have played in campaigns like Thrive and Pop the Stigma, as well as the development of the Mental Health Framework 2.0, we believe continued partnership with advertising open consultation through these organizations is essential. Our VP Internal candidate Ahmad Araji has promised monthly consultation with clubs and societies, and is dedicated to ensuring the voices of clubs who have felt ignored or underappreciated are heard and centred in discussions of CUSA programming and initiatives. All consultation on events and programming will be announced plenty in advance, and both in person and electronic feedback will be made available, as to increase accessibility. Additionally, VP Student Life candidate Donna Al Sououb is focused on ensuring that her position is expanded beyond simply partying into more accessible and inclusive events supported by CUSA. This includes alcohol-free nights at Oliver’s, which would allow greater access to those who are living with alcohol dependency issues. Additionally, she is seeking to add more cultural events, such as direct sponsorship of Iftars, Eid, Diwali, Holi and other cultural celebrations in order to provide students with an increased sense of community and belonging within our association.

4. How would you improve or change CUSA’s ‘Pop the Stigma’ mental health campaign?

Change appreciates the work of previous VP Student Issues executives on mental health awareness, but thinks it is time to shift from awareness to action. Change VP Student Issues candidate Kenneth Aliu strongly believes that the awareness week format needs to shift to year-round campaigns and action. He is open to the concept of rebranding the campaign to not only centre around stigma, but also around increased funding to services from CUSA, Carleton administration and both provincial and federal government. Change understands that living with mental illness and the discussion around mental health is inherently political, and many voices around mental health, particularly those of intersecting marginalized identities are often underrepresented in the dialogue around mental health. Thus, we believe in ensuring that those voices are represented using our platform to amplify those experiences to maximize stigma reduction in all communities and political attention for increased funding of mental health services. Now is no longer just the time for awareness, but the time for action.

5. How will you work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming, and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities?

Change will work to ensure CUSA’s events, programming and services are more accessible to individuals with mental (dis)abilities through a variety of fashions. As previously mentioned, our President candidate Ashley Courchene and VP Internal Candidate Ahmad Araji are both dedicated to increased consultation with students, both in person and through online and paper feedback forms, thus providing more options to provide suggestions for improving our accessibility. Change, through VP Finance candidate Greg Owens and VP Student Services candidate Zophia Brobio, also plans on requiring all CUSA employees to enroll in and complete both the Mental Health First Aid being provided free of cost by Health and Counselling services 4 times annually here at Carleton, as well as anti-oppression training. Change VP Student Life candidate Donna Al Sououb will bring all ages and alcohol-free event programming, particularly at Oliver’s, as well as culturally inclusive events, which create safe(r) spaces for those living with alcohol dependencies and those who feel ostracized when they are away from their cultural communities while attending Carleton. Finally, Change VP Student Issues candidate Kenneth Aliu will champion mental health as one of his main campaigns, ensuring it is discussed not just one week a year, but as a part of every other campaign on campus. We strongly believe that those living with mental illness need a student union that will fight for them. We believe we are that voice. So on February 1 st and 2 nd , we are asking that you make every voice count. Vote Change.