Candidate Profile: Olga Ostafiichuk
Updated: Sep 27, 2020
On Thursday I sat down with Olga Ostafiichuk, a fourth-year student from the Ukraine, to discuss her upcoming bid for the School of Professional Studies seat on the Student Representative Council. Selected passages of our discussion are reproduced below. It is our hope at Caper Times to become increasingly more involved in student politics and to help the student body make informed decisions about who they want to represent them, and thereby to prevent the popularity contest that such elections often become. If you are currently running for any democratically elected position at CBU – or plan to – and you would like to be interviewed, please reach out to CT_EditorInChief@cbu.ca
Candidate for the School of Professional Studies seat and fourth-year Public Health student Olga Ostafiichuk.
Q: So, Olga, tell me a little bit about yourself.
A: “This is my fourth year at CBU, I’m graduating this year … I’m taking a Bachelors in Public Health … I’m also part of the Public Health Society Executive … this is what keeps me quite busy because this is one of the most active societies here [at CBU]. I’m also a Residence Assistant and part of the House Council.”
Q: What made you want to run for Student Representative Council?
A: I was gathering my thoughts over the past three years, and now this is my last year – when I’m feeling quite confident – I have some experience at CBU already, and I thought it would be interesting. And this is kind of a social position, where I would meet more new people, I like to be useful and I would love to help if I can. And it’s funny, as I was doing my class-to-class meetings, I was trying to engage people in Professional Studies to vote for me, I came to a Nursing class – and this isn’t my program – but the teacher was waiting for me, she was very happy to see me, and some Nursing Students have complained to me already, I have two complaints to bring up to the Student’s Union …
Q: Oh? Before you’ve even been elected?
A: Yes, yes. [Laughing]. They were so enthusiastic about letting me know. The students were a little bit shy, but the teacher wanted them to talk, she was like “tell her what you told to me, tell her, let her know.” And yeah, that was a really interesting experience, feeling helpful. They said “we would vote for you just because we want this and this to be done.”
Q: What were the kind of things they were asking for?
A: Nurses, well many of the nursing students, they usually study together in groups, and Nursing is a huge program … they complain that they don’t have a place to study, they go to the library – it’s too busy, they go to the Pit – it’s too loud, and they complain that some of the other Departments at CBU have their own lounges and they don’t … and the teacher was supporting their thoughts very much, she was very enthusiastic as well. [And] Wi-Fi problems, so they have 12 books in the Nursing Program which are online books, they have to pay for those but they are online, and because of Wi-Fi [issues] they cannot get access to those during class – that’s another issue, so they would like to have Wi-Fi improved.
Q: What do you feel is the role of the representative on the council?
A: I think the representative is the voice of the students or the community they represent. This is a very important and responsible position I would say. It is important to let people know about you, and about the fact that you are ready to help and that you want to listen. Some students may be shy about sharing their problems, but it’s important to let them know there’s no reason for them to be shy … and that you are the one who can raise the issue, and maybe solve it – so I would say this is probably the main role.
Q: You talked about receiving input from other students, and obviously that would be a big part of your job, but you also mentioned that you’ve been here now – you’re in your fourth year – so you’ve accumulated some experiences. What are some things that you would like to change or see done differently, particularly in your own program?
A: It is hard for me to complain, I would say, when I entered my program it wasn’t so big, it didn’t involve as many people as it does now … I have never heard anyone complaining about something particular in our [Public Health] program … [But] the [Nursing] teacher said that many people have talked to her and they said that they were tired of repeating the same things about the internet and about the lounge. This is not the first year that these issues are being discussed, and it wasn’t [fixed] administratively before. If you look at it from such a perspective, I will be trying to change something, because it wasn’t changed before – but yet the main thing is support, I believe students have many things to say, maybe they are shy so I just want to hear the complaints or concerns, and help.
Q: And maybe these concerns, since they are from year-to-year, need to be followed up a little more – you know – aggressively, in a way?
A: Well, another thing, I don’t know if they used to talk to their representatives before. They could have discussed this with their teachers, they could have [discussed it] between themselves in the Nursing Program, maybe they didn’t try to bring it up somewhere – I don’t know. But of course, wherever I can see an issue which is relevant, of course I will try to insist that it be solved. I am a student too, and I can understand that when you pay money to study, and when you want to [achieve] academic success, it is important that you are supported and have all the conditions [to achieve this], so of course I would like to support students to have these conditions offered – they deserve it.
Q: There are always two sides to each story, as well. So how would you deal with a student who might have unrealistic expectations?
A: Well I think the first thing I would do wouldn’t be to support such unrealistic expectations, so I would not try to say that ‘I will try to do my best,’ probably the best thing I could do would be to explain why this is not realistic, I can say maybe ‘is there any compromise you would look for?’ and if the person is not agreeing with me I would probably say ‘let’s make a vote, let’s get the other students and have a vote for this.’ So that you would see if your issue is important for your community, if it’s not – well you can understand that you have to [make] sacrifices yourself for the benefit of the community … while of course I would [also] try my best to calm the person down, and explain why things work this way, and offer any support I can offer, and look for compromises – that’s the main thing.
Q: Is there anything that you have a particular interest in people knowing, or anything that you’d like potential voters to consider?
A: I would just wish for the students to enjoy their studying, because this is the best time – this is one of the best times – in their life. This is their youth. Be social, participate in events, enjoy your studies and if you have any problems know that you are supported. CBU is one big community which is like a family, so you will always be supported, and any issue or concern that you have there is always a representative for you, whether it’s me or not – that would be really good for students to know … and of course, some of the students could have seen me because I was going class-to-class, so if they liked me, and if they feel that I am the one they would like to talk to if they have any concerns, maybe they would like to support me – I would really appreciate and be happy for that.