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Campus Celebrity: David Gakwerere of Here for Us

David Gakwerere is a fifth year student who has an incredible working knowledge of this campus. He is currently running a campaign called Here for Us where he is running for President of the SFUO in collaboration with Nicole Maylor who is running alongside him for the position of Vice President of Equity. We got together with David to learn more about him and his goals for this campus!

Ronnie: What are you studying and what made you decide to come to uOttawa?

David: Public Administration with a minor in Political Science. When I was in Grade 12 in Edmonton I was looking at schools and wanted to continue my post-secondary education en français. I didn’t want to go to Montreal, so uOttawa was one of the choices. I also got into the page program.

Ronnie: How have you been involved on campus in the past?

David: Since first year I have been playing intramural soccer. Not to brag or anything but the teams I’m on always make it to the playoffs and we have earned one title and 3 appearances in the finals! My preference is indoor co-ed soccer. Also, I have been involved as a 101 week guide for 3 years with the association formerly known as PIDSSA. I have been involved with PIDSSA and now IPPSSA in various ways as the Director of Bilingualism where the mandate was to translate documents like it says in the Constitution. I also worked with the French and English community within the association. As a Director I was able to sit at exec meetings and it was good because I could be a Director and not have a vote but instead bring input and be part of that association and have a say. All the way at the bottom of the executive ladder on PIDSSA I believe I left an impression. It helped me really understand from the inside how the fed bodies worked. I was also the Ombudsman of La Rotonde. I was the first to hold that position, so in a way I had to put into action and set precedent for what it meant to be in that position, so I went to outside sources to help me. I went to the Ombudsman of uOttawa and also the Centre for Equity and Human Rights. Through this I got involved with the centre and I moderated the Harassment and Prevention Workshop. As an Ombudsman it was a privilege to work with them. I learned a lot about how to take complaints, how to handle different characters in a high pressure work environment, and also how to act neutral, impartial, and fair to everyone. 

Ronnie: Tell us what your unique experience at uOttawa has taught you.

David: No matter where, even if you don’t see it, there are always people who care on campus – be it in the admin, the intramural office, the fed bodies, or even people who get up every Monday morning for Muggy Mondays. Even when you think morale is low and even when school think spirit isn’t there, there are people who care, and this is what we should remember. That’s why I want to do this. Anywhere you’re walking, no matter who is there next to you, there is always one person who cares. I feel like people just choose to forget that, but reminding yourself of this simple fact is encouraging.

Ronnie: Can you tell us three things that students don’t know about you?

David:

1.    I’m the youngest of 6 kids. I have 4 sisters and 1 brother!

2.    I have a really legitimate radio voice.

3.    I’m really good at foosball. Not like just good. But REALLY good. 

Ronnie: Briefly tell us what your campaign is all about.

David: What made me decide to run for president is that I noticed the potential for what we can accomplish as a university, exec and community. I also realized that we are falling way short of our potential. We should no longer work in silos. We should work together, be it the clubs, services or fed bodies. We should bring back the student engagement and spirit that we all have. It ties back to the idea that people do care but we have to work together. It’s the same thing with my campaign; we’re all students, we’re all in this together and we have to work together. And if we don’t unite for the issues we have together at heart then we won’t be able to strive to our full potential.

Ronnie: What are some of the changes you plan on making on campus in the future?

David: Start with better communication. That goes with our own students, engaging them, being there for them, listening to their issues, and listening to the issues they have at heart. Also, better engagement, that’s what happens when you start talking to someone personally, they become engaged in their own federation.

Ronnie: What do you think are the key issues surrounding this campus?

David: Students are not engaged in the election. About 5000 people have been voting for the past 4 or 5 years. If you look at it population wise, only 5000 of 36000 students go and vote. So there’s a big problem when the other 31000 don’t vote. We have to ensure people are engaged and know what is happening on their own campus. Beyond that I think dealing with issues on campus is an issue in itself. Yes, it’s a matter of prevention, but also of healing; making a safe space for those to heal after. Additionally, we are supposed to be a bilingual university. Having equal opportunities in English and in French is something that must be a focus on this campus. Be it an immersion program or someone taking studies in their second language. And the same goes for employment on campus with work study, for example.

Ronnie: What is your vision for uOttawa as a whole?

David: To achieve our full potential. To work together. To be better together. We can do it, we just have to be working together to achieve our own greatness. We’re here getting our undergrad, and achieving other great things, but the job of the federation is to help make this experience the most memorable and to have the best, most memorable impact on our journey here.

Ronnie: Where is your favorite spot around campus to go for a night out?

David: It’s too obvious: La Maison Acadienne is the place to be. For, not only their great deals and their great staff, but the encounters!

Remember to vote on February 10, 11, and 12!

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