Tobi Solebo—USC President, 3rd year, BMOS- Accounting
Landon Tulk—Vice President, 3rd year, Political Science
How did you decide to run for USC exec?
T: It was based on a lot of recent decisions made by the USC. As students, we never felt like we had been asked about a lot of stuff that was going on and a lot of decisions that were made, specifically things like Homecoming, MTP cut and clubs week. Even though these things fall outside the responsibility of the USC, it’s the USC’s job to be an advocate for students and to be a voice for students. At the end of the day, we felt like there was a bit of a disconnect happening there, and we just didn’t feel that represented. We started thinking, “Hey, maybe we should do this and make a run for it.”
What made you decide to run together?
L: I actually met Tobi at O-Week in my first year. He was on stage talking about black rights and his perspective on that and how he’s always “that black guy,” but there’s more to him. I tried to track him down that night, and I told him that I had never seen anything like that, especially from people our age. Then, we had the opportunity to work on a mental health fundraiser last year, the Austen Berlet CampOut for Mental Health at Victoria Park, which is an awareness event to talk about the differences between mental illness and mental health and how we practice positive mental health habits. We actually raised over $20,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association which went directly into funding the new USC/CMHA partnership which brings mental health counselors onto campus during the evening. So I’ve seen how Tobi works, he’s seen how I work, and I think we’re going to be strong advocates for students based on our outside experience, in the sophing community, in clubs, and volunteering in the community.
T: I wanted to work with Landon because I’ve seen how much work he’s put into political atmospheres outside of Western. He’s worked with all different levels of government, I’ve seen how he works with something that he really puts his heart into it, he gets it done. At the end of the day, we both have gaps in the things that we have our strengths in and our weaknesses in, and our strengths complement each other really well.
A lot of talk has been about how you don’t have much USC experience. Do you want to address those claims?
L: One of our opponents is preaching so much about their USC experience, and yet, there are a lot of things wrong with their platform, there’s a lot of things wrong with their vision of how they’re moving forward, and I’m hoping that Tobi and I can be that alternative choice for students who they can actually recognize. The number of students that we’ve asked, “Hey, have you met Eddy? Have you met Jamie?” and them not even knowing who those people are or who have never voted before…Tobi and I are looking to shake things up a little bit and make sure that the USC has a very visible face next year and that we’re continuing to serve as a force for good, for all students, and not just students that are involved in the USC and faculty councils, because those students have already done a lot to be engaged. So let’s bring in new leaders that want to be engaged, so sophs who are disenfranchised with how the USC is working with them, club leaders, who have said, “It’s getting too challenging, we’re going take a step back and maybe not even vote,” and students at large, who in first year, need to see that the USC is an organization that is ready to work with them and ready to listen to them.
T: I think it’s about time that students have representatives that are representing their voice and representing 100% of the student body. Every year, students bring up that they want something new, and then they vote in the same sort of candidate. If they want to shake it up, I guess we’re giving them the opportunity.
L: I think saying we’re “outside” the USC is too strong—we’re in the Western community, we’re doing different things. And like Tobi said, my skillset with the municipal, provincial and federal government, where I’m actually going to be able to bring student interests to those levels. I have a different perspective, I can go to those people (in the government) and say, “Hey, thanks for setting up this meeting with me.” I already have those connections, and I’m looking forward to building on them.
If you get elected, what is the one thing that you hope to accomplish?
T: Student engagement! We want people to start caring again. We want people to start voting again. We want people to keep the USC accountable, we want people to feel like they can go up and talk to their USC executive, we want people to understand what we’re doing and why we’re doing it so that we can get rid of this whole “I don’t think the USC works for me. I don’t think the USC does this for me.” Because the USC does a lot of work for students, and I think at the end of the day, they always have students’ priorities in mind, but it’s just making that evident, making sure that people feel heard and represented, and at the end of the day, trying to shrink that disconnection that everybody keeps on talking about. It’s so important to remind everybody that the people in the USC are still students representing student voices.
L: I think Eddy and Jamie have set a strong foundation for engaging different areas of the community, especially with their office hours that they hold every week where students can drop by and talk to them. It’s setting a precedent, and we want to build on that. So on top of that hour, let’s add another hour, where this week we’re in Natural Science, talking to students there about what’s going on around campus and “Is there anything we can do for you?” And students might not have spontaneous suggestions of things to better the USC, but really, I want to hear “Hey, how’s your week going? Is there anything that Tobi and I can do differently for you?” We’re interested in introducing ourselves, so they know that when they have an issue, they know who they can bring it to. For me, our open office hours are a platform point that I am really interested in, because I want more than 20% of the population to say that they know who the USC is and they know what the USC does for them.