Jyssika Russell, running on a platform of equity and accessibility, is advocating for an inclusion council in the MSU.
She suggests expanding the existing roundtable to include the core of the organization and the president of the MSU. “We need to have direction. We need to have campaigns and student feedback,” said Russell.
Aside from stating that there needs to be a more long-term vision for the service, Russell’s hopes do not differ greatly from how Diversity Services already aims to function.
One of Russell’s chief platform points is improving the emergency fund. The fund is already available through the office of student Financial Aid and Scholarships, but according to Russell is not well advertised and rarely offered.
Russell’s goal is to make the funds more readily available to students – even those who are not eligible for OSAP – and to ensure that these loans are interest free.
The University, however, would still be the only organization with the authority to determine student need for this money. Russell would not ensure the completion of this emergency fund if the University were to put an end to her effort.
Russell plans to use the MSU surplus to fund these loans, though the organization is ill-equipped to deal with financial responsibility of this scale.
“It’s the most advocacy-based idea and the MSU doesn’t specifically focus on finances yet so there is a lot more research that needs to happen,” said Russell about the emergency fund.
She continued, “We will need direct collaboration with the university and when it comes to money people are cautious.”
Another of Russell’s platform points is MSU-provided busses to and from Art Crawl and other local events.
“I am aware that the HSR goes there, but I want to make local events known to people,” said Russell.
The busses would be used for first year students who may not be comfortable taking the HSR or CAs who want to take student groups.
“Even if I don’t win, I still want to work with the MSU to achieve my goals. I’m not running just to be President, I’m running to get these policies in place,” said Russell, who has been working in the MSU for two years as coordinator of the Queer Student Community Centre.
She continued, “I want to make sure I share that I’m all about inclusivity, and meeting students’ personal needs versus simply wants.”
Campaign catchphrase: Diversity, inclusion and equity
Year/Program: Fourth-year biology
Most ambitious platform point: Emergency Fund
Would vote for: Israa Ali, because she embodies the right characteristics and has similar points to Russell.
Point she’s critical of: Brodka’s Freedom Credit. “I like the idea, I just don’t think it will work in practice.”