For fourth-year social science student Mitchell Pratt and third-year science student Danny Chang, it’s their passion for student government that sets them apart as the best candidates for the USC presidency and vice presidency, respectively.
“We’ve proven it through our time as councillors, our time as committee chairs, our time as vice-president,” explained Pratt. “We are here to work for our students, and we are here to use our experience to shake up the status quo within the USC.”
Pratt is currently president of the Social Science Students’ Council and previously was a social science student senator, as well as vice-president sponsorship for the Western Model United Nations. Chang is currently president of the Science Students’ Council and the Director of eCampusOntario.
Photo from Team PrattChang
With a platform focused on five pillars—academics, student experience, a safer Western, health and wellness, and life in London—Team PrattChang have a comprehensive vision for the 2018/2019 USC executive.
“The vice president’s job is to represent students at every level,” said Chang. “I’ve been really inspired to fight for students in every single way.”
Team PrattChang’s platform also marked a first in international student representation. Their platform is the first to be offered in languages other than English, with it being available in Korean, Simplified Chinese and Hindi versions. Chang himself worked on the Korean version, while members of the PrattChang team fluent in simplified Chinese and Hindi helped out with the others.
“On the USC every year we’ve had conversations about international student representation and the lack of it,” Chang said. “Hopefully [for international students] we are eliminating the first barrier to the USC.”
Making sure campus is safe for Western students is a priority for Pratt and Chang, including working on prevention of sexual violence. They promise a number of proactive solutions, including reviewing and promoting sexual violence resources that exist on campus and creating a permanent sexual violence working group to constantly address sexual violence issues.
“Danny and I know that we’re not experts on this issue,” said Pratt. “It’s about being that non-performative ally and empowering people who are more equipped to speak to this issue, letting them have the mandate and the resources.”
The safety of students at homecoming is also important for Pratt and Chang. While the homecoming date is definitively set in October for 2018, the slate wants to ensure student wellbeing for the inevitable “fake homecoming,” or FOCO, in late September. They hope to implement various initiatives, including handing out water bottles, running informational campaigns, and working with local residents.
“We want to ensure that student safety comes first because turning a blind eye to students partying isn’t going to stop students from partying,” said Chang. “We want to make sure the right resources exist for students who do partake in those activities.”
For the official homecoming day in late October, Pratt and Chang want to bring back the March to the Stadium parade, working with the marching band, varsity athletics and other organizations to increase turnout to the football game. Eventually, they plan to advocate for bringing back the original homecoming date.
“We believe that this truly is a student safety issue,” Chang explained of the decision to advocate for restoring the original homecoming date. “We want to have these tough conversations—moving forward we should restore the date and really focus on student safety.”
Pratt and Chang’s platform also includes improving academics. Of note is implementing pass/fail credits for Western’s courses, which will require consultation between the USC and various governing bodies on campus. Citing Fall Reading Week as an example, Chang emphasized the importance of the USC and student senator collaboration. He acknowledged that implementing pass/fail credits will require consultation for various faculties, but it’s something that students want.
“[Pass/fail credits are] something we can find common ground on—finding a well-researched solution and then using the voice that we have within our own constituencies and with our own administrators to further that conversation by working together,” Chang explained.
Next year will be an important year for Western, London, and Ontario, with leadership turnover at the administrative, municipal, and provincial levels. Pratt and Chang are excited to work with new leaders in London to advocate for the student interest, including with Shift, London’s Rapid Transit plan. Shift’s construction along Western Road will prove to be disruptive for an already busy road. Pratt and Chang will advocate for Ivey, Huron, Brescia and south side residence students to have safe access to main campus during this time.
“We know there’s going to be a lot of issues that are going to arise,” Chang said. “The city has been very receptive to our feedback.”
Despite many big picture ideas, they understand the time limit of their actions while in office. Instead, they focused on goals and issues that they could tangibly work on and change in a year while laying the groundwork for long-term initiatives for future executives.
Pratt emphasized the importance of student engagement while in office. Being a visible, accountable presence on campus is what propels Team PrattChang. This includes going to faculty meetings, combining resources and hearing student concerns.
“We can’t expect students to come to the USC; we have to go to the students,” said Pratt. “We want to make sure we can deliver the best student experience for every Western student.”
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