The following are selected questions and answers from the Sil’s interview with MSU presidential candidate Dan Fahey.
What made you come to McMaster?
Well, my course at my home university is also in integrated sciences, and there’s a partnership between the two schools. And I heard about this [exchange program] and thought, right, go to Canada. Wicked. As soon as I heard about it, I was like ‘right, I’m going.’
Why did you decide to run for MSU president?
The question of presidentials came up and people just pointed at me. I’m not doing this for my CV; I want to work for students. I consider it the role as a day-to-day organizer. I felt an obligation and democratic responsibility to go in and switch the debate. Let’s talk about student advocacy, let’s talk about the role of the McMaster Students Union to the University and Hamilton and Ontario and Canada.
Do you think people will have a problem with you being from away?
I don’t know if that’s an issue. I’ve not met a single person who has had a problem with it. But I’ve always thought I feel a bit weird doing this, but then I’m like, I’m a member of the students union, right? I’m not the only international student here. As a student, you’re part of an international phenomenon. You should definitely think internationally. That said, Ontario, of all the places in the world outside of Britain, is probably one of the most similar. I mean, there’s a union flag on the Ontario flag. It’s a colony, right? And Hamilton is really similar to back home, it’s almost like another part of England. It’s very similar, culturally.
Who would you vote for if not yourself?
I wouldn’t vote. That’s pretty divisive, isn’t it? Or I’d vote and void my ballot, actually. That’s why I’m standing here. If I could, I’d vote for “RON” — to “re-open nominations.”
How will your campaign get students engaged in the elections process and in the MSU in general?
It should be easy. All undergraduates are MSU, they’re all on campus learning. The basic bread and butter is class talks, it’s talking to people. There’s no substitute to talking to people. The key question is, why should I vote? The track record of being up against so many barriers of perceptions of what the students union is. “Why should I be bothered into voting for anybody?” is what 70 percent of the student population thinks. They’re already voting, and they’re saying, “I don’t give a shit.” You could say it’s their fault, but it’s not their fault at all.
What one issue do you think is most important to students?
Cost. Bread and butter economic cost. The elephant in the room, I suppose. Ontario students have the lowest funding in government education and some of the highest fees in Canada. I don’t really consider that a left-right issue. A students union fights in the interests of its members.
What are your thoughts on the issue of campus capacity?
The university’s trying to do more with less. So it ties back into the advocacy position of the students union. The MSU is possibly the most powerful institution in Hamilton. You know, 25,000 members, each of them paying hundreds of dollars, a budget of millions, a cultural impact which goes far beyond what’s usually possible with businesses, even. We’re full of young, enthusiastic students who are not on their own — they’re together. We can use the union to strengthen that cooperation. We’ve got the potential for a group of students to get together and try to make the world a better place. The easiest place to do it is at university.
What would you do in your first month in office?
I’d want to get the ball rolling on winning over support from the SRA into large-scale reforms. I’d want to reevaluate the framework for political representation. Also I’d start at getting the women and trans* centre running.
Where do you like to go off-campus in Hamilton?
I like [Homegrown Hamilton]. It’s where I go a lot now. I’ve gone to every single art crawl. I was blown away by the Workers’ Arts and Heritage Centre. I really like Hamilton. It’s like Manchester, where I’m from. It’s has a kind of gritty, industrial past, and present, really. I’ve not really left Hamilton.
What’s your favourite kind of Timbit?
I’d like to prefer the chocolate one, but I’m always let down, and I always think the plain one is a bit nicer. They’re different colours, but I’m sure they all taste the same.
What kind of qualities do you look for in a girlfriend/boyfriend?
Intelligence. Confidence. Somebody who can challenge me, question me. Someone who’s going to make me a better person.
What’s your favourite memory at McMaster?
The bonfire at the Cootes Paradise club’s moonlight hike in one of my first couple weeks here.
If you could invite anyone to a dinner party, who would it be?
John Lennon. Let’s bring John Lennon back.
What’s your favourite Youtube video?
Charlie Chaplin’s “The Great Dictator.”
Cats or dogs? Cats.
Facebook or twitter? Facebook.
Pop tarts or Eggos? Pop tarts.
Beer or liquor? Beer.
HP or LOTR? LOTR. Easy. I hate Harry Potter. Everyone’s got this perception of England from Harry Potter and it’s so removed from reality.
Spice Girls or Backstreet Boys? Spice Girls, I suppose. Reluctantly.