Team David & Matt want to “bring ASUS to you”

ASUS Executive candidates want to make Society relevant to students

ASUS executive Presidential candidate David Niddam-Dent and Vice-Presidential candidate Matt D’Alessandro.
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ASUS presidential candidate David Niddam-Dent, ArtSci ’22, and vice-presidential candidate Matt D’Alessandro, ArtSci ’22, hope to win leadership of Queen’s largest faculty Society by “bringing ASUS” to students.

As one of two teams running in this year’s ASUS executive election, Team David and Matt are focusing on six key pillars of change in their platform—aiming to increase advocacy in broader areas of student wellness, equity and sustainability, and financial accessibility.

“Our platform strikes a balance between change and continuity and between innovation and empowerment,” D’Alessandro said in an interview with The Journal.

Prior to campaigning for ASUS Executive, Niddam-Dent was elected as an ASUS Senator and as the Student Senate Caucus Chair. In 2019, he co-founded the organization Students for Students, which aims to provide financial support to those affected by the provincial cuts to OSAP. He also gained leadership experience through his role as Chief of Staff for the Queen’s International Affairs Association. 

According to D’Alessandro, he’s been involved with ASUS since “his first couple weeks on campus.” He currently serves as the Talent Acquisition Deputy in the Human Resources Office and volunteers with Good Times Diner, a student-run community soup kitchen organized by ASUS that operates out of St. Paul’s Anglican Church. Beyond ASUS, he is an executive member of Get Real Queen’s which seeks to tackle LGBTQ+ discrimination and bullying.

Team David and Matt’s wellness platform is designed to pick up where the current ASUS executive leaves off by making use of the newly-created ASUS Wellness Director.

They also recognize the implementation of same-day counselling services haven’t been helpful for every student on campus. They’re looking at a number of solutions, such as advocating for same-day counselling times geared towards the evening or adding a second booking period at a later time in the day.

“It’s not at 8 a.m. when all students feel like they need the help of same-day counselling,” Niddam-Dent said.

Another focus of Team David and Matt’s campaign is to make Queen’s a more financially accessible institution for students.

“We’ve noticed that some students have to work alongside their studies to support their degree, and some students don’t. [T]hat dynamic places an unfair burden on students because they have to support their degree financially if they want to graduate at the same time as others,” Niddam-Dent said.

To address this issue, they plan to advocate for a Worker’s Academic Credit, to be structured similarly to the Personal Interest Credit, for students who provide proof of employment to be able to designate three credits of their course load per semester as pass or fail.

In terms of equity, sustainability, and solidarity, Niddam-Dent shared their desire to “expand the footprint” of the ASUS Equity Commission by helping clubs that exist both within and outside of ASUS to “achieve the change they hope to see.”

Part of accomplishing that goal is aligning their priorities with those of these clubs, such as the push for allyship.

“We want to expand the discussion into ASUS, looking at how ASUS as a society can foster allyship and bring the important work of equity groups on campus to an institutional level by collaborating with the University,” D’Alessandro said.

“We know that marginalized groups on campus still face barriers that we need to help knock down. Coming from our lived experiences, positionality, and privileges, we’re really committed to recognizing that,” Niddam-Dent said.

According to Niddam-Dent, Team David and Matt also want to use their platform to “push the University towards sustainability” by creating an environment and sustainability strategic plan within ASUS, as well as an equity director who would spearhead its implementation and make sure ASUS functions sustainably.

Team David and Matt said they’ve built their platform through extensive consultation with different groups on campus, which they believe is a critical element of student government operations.

“Our platform would not be the same without the conversations we’ve had because we know our lived experiences and experience within ASUS is simply not enough—but that consultation doesn’t stop now,” Niddam-Dent said.

“If we are elected, it’s not just that we’re going to have an open door, we’re going to be going through that door to look for meetings with [various] groups to make sure we’re informing our efforts in the best way possible. This isn’t the end of the conversation, this is the start.”

 

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