Campus Celebrity: Darrean Baga and Brian MacKay

They work behind the scenes and sometimes they show their faces in your lectures to ask for your vote, but who are they really? HerCampus sat down with the dream team that is running to be your ASUS executive next year to get the scoop on the guys behind the campaign promises. Yes, I’m talking about Brian MacKay and Darrean Baga.

Starting with the basics, tell me a little bit about yourselves?

Darrean: I’m a 3rd year DEVS student also completing my certificate in Business and I’m running to be your ASUS President. I came to Toronto in 2006 after moving around a lot as a kid and settled in Scarborough. I chose Queen’s because of the sense of community and the opportunities for student government and leadership.

Brian: I’m a 3rd-year Politics major from Barrie, Ontario and I came to Queen’s because I had an older brother that studied engineering here, he did a good job selling me on the school; it sounded like a great place to study. I settled on politics as a major because I felt like it really connected all my interests.

Since you guys are running for elected office, and Brian is in Politics, who are your political idols?

Darrean: Justin Trudeau, jokingly, but in all seriousness I think he would be my choice because he really brings a sense of youth to politics and the youth vote is really important (not just because I am biased towards my own demographic). He seems like a great guy, his policies are strong on electoral reform and I really hope he accomplishes what he promised.  

Brian: Barack Obama because he isn’t afraid to stand up for what he truly believes is right regardless of the potential backlash that might arise from it, I really admire that.

How did you guys meet? And what made you guys decide to team up and run in the election?

Both: We were orientation coordinators on the same committee and after that, we kept running into each other around campus. We found that we had really similar outlooks on the issues and came up with great ideas together. Overall, we made a really good team and our skill sets really complimented each other.

As a team, we don’t compromise on things but rather we work together to find the best solution to the issues and we haven’t disagreed on anything yet which hopefully carries over to our partnership after the election, as well. At the end of the day, we want what’s best for the students and we are open to changing the plan and listening to feedback from each other, our team and the students.

If you guys could sum up your partnership in four words, what would they be?

Beauty (they like to call each other beauty in reference to how people sometimes speak in Brian’s hometown of Barrie), Balanced (Darrean jokes that they need two more words that start with a B to continue the theme they’ve got going on), Cooperative and Cohesive (forgoing the theme for the next best thing, consecutive words starting with C)

What made you decide to run for ASUS Executive?

Both: It wasn’t initially something that we’d thought of doing in 1st or 2nd year, and up to this point we’d primarily stuck to more bureaucratic student leadership roles, but we found that there was a limit to how much you could accomplish in those roles. The natural next step was elected representation and we thought of each other because of our complimentary skill sets and experiences.

Darrean: I opted to be the President because my skills and experiences were more suited to the role. Brian agrees on this and adds that Darrean always advocates for what he thinks is right which is perfect for the role of President.

Brian: I opted for vice-president because I was well versed in the internal workings of ASUS and I have a good understanding of managing a budget and some experience with it, as well (which is important given the considerable budget that would be under their control if they get elected). Darrean adds that Brian is very thorough and read through all the ASUS election rules several times to ensure they were doing everything by the book.

Both: Running for student government is a great way to have your voice be heard and a proactive way to enact change on campus. (They both admit that they were okay with losing the election if it meant that their ideas at least made it out there and they got to meet new people in the process of the campaign, these guys are the real deal)

How have you found the process of campaigning thus far?

Both: It’s been a lot of work but also a lot of fun just seeing how students respond to our ideas. It’s been reassuring to know that the students support us going into it. You really get to know who your allies when you do something as public as running in an election. It’s an eye-opening experience as well especially because we are running uncontested, technically we don’t have a huge need to put a lot of effort into campaigning to win the election but we are because we want everyone to know who we are. It took a lot of planning to get to this point and now that the campaign has started we’ve found it really key to just roll with the punches and deal with issues as they arise, keeping calm and open with each other so we continue to get along.

What is one thing that you guys have learned during the campaign (either about the process itself, about ASUS or in talking to the student body)?

Both: You know, I just think it is how much work is being put in behind the scenes that you can’t really appreciate from the outside. Elected officials seem so distant in 1st and 2nd year but when you get involved you really become a part of this whole community that you didn’t even realize existed then. It’s so nice to see that this community is all united by a desire to do what is best for Queen’s and they are all so passionate about it.

What are you most looking forward to doing if you get elected? (which is looking pretty likely given your uncontested status)

Darrean: I’d say having an impact on the direction of ASUS as a whole, meeting commissioners and volunteers and getting really involved with the whole team. (They really want to ensure that they are working alongside their team and not separated from it in a position of absolute power, we can appreciate team players at HerCampus)

Brian: Meeting people who are passionate about specific fields and getting to learn from them, driving positive change in the process. (Brian jokes that positive change should be the catch phrase for their campaign)

Both: Getting the chance to represent and speak for the students, even if that means going to assembly and disagreeing with everyone because that’s what students want us to do for them.

Obviously, you guys are students first, so how do you anticipate being able to balance this position with your academic commitments?

Darrean: For me, I’m planning to take a decreased course load and adding a fifth year to my degree so that I can really devote my time to the position. My parents have been really supportive of my decision to add the fifth year.

Brian: When I found out we were running, I actually dropped a class (which seems a little presumptuous, I know) but it’s really enabled me to devote a lot of time to the campaign. I plan to do the same thing as Darrean, taking a decreased course load next year and some summer courses so that I can give the position the time it requires. From what I’ve heard it’s so interesting to be involved in student government that you can sometimes forget that you’re a student, I’m really looking forward to that.

If you could sum up your platform in one sentence, what would it be?

Darrean: The scripted sentence that we give in the class talks is ‘we want to make your ASUS experience the best it can be’. But expanding on that, we really want to promote simple changes that are achievable and will make noticeable differences in the lives of ArtSci students on campus, we don’t want to make grand election promises that won’t be achieved.

Brian: I want to sum it up in one word, (Darrean jokes that this is Brian being an overachiever), so in one word I would say that our platform is achievable. We aren’t promising anything unrealistic and it’s taken a lot of research to get to this point and assure that everything clears approvals and is supported by the student body.

 

Well, I have to admit that I was pretty impressed by these two, they were the real deal and they definitely don’t sound like they’re making a bunch of campaign promises that won’t be realized by the end of their term. As someone who hasn’t had much involvement in student politics, I can confidently say that I’d like these guys to be in my corner, representing me as an ArtSci student. While it might not seem important to vote for the position of ASUS executive (especially since they’re running uncontested) make sure to vote on January 26 and 27 to show your support for these two and let your voice be heard. #DAB