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Reddy to challenge incumbent President Brar for top spot in Student’s Union

Name: Kushal Reddy Hometown: Hyderabad, India Program: 3-year Bachelor of Arts in Community Studies Year: 1st Running for: Student Union President

Q: What made you want to come to CBU?

A: I’ll be frank with you, when I was in India I applied for several other universities – this [CBU] was the first I got admission into. So I just googled the place – I like the way it is, because it’s more peaceful than all of the other places [I applied for], like Toronto – small, peaceful to study in; I thought this would be a good choice even if I got admission into any other universities.

Q: So you’re running for President. What are some of the changes you’d like to see if you are successful?

A: The thing now with most of the international students coming in, we can’t do much about the housing until someone builds up some houses. The bus transport, it’s getting better, it’s OK. Now we need to have a bus shelter out there, because students are in line – and when the bus is full, you know, some of them are left out – so they need to wait 20 minutes, half an hour more, and by the time they go into Subway and come back there’s someone else in the line. So the shelter, it might not accommodate all of them [, the students,] but if we can help some of the students, that would be good – with the cold winds and the snow coming in.

And the other major thing that I want to do is get placements on campus, because so many of the courses don’t have placements, which is not good for the students I guess with the part-time jobs around – we don’t have much opportunities for part-time jobs. So if we get placement on-campus, by the time the students complete their courses, instead of going out and starting to look for jobs, if the university has on-campus placements the eligible students would happily move on from college.

Q: At the moment do you have any idea of how you could help to get that done?

A: [I would] talk to the respective people who are responsible for it, sit down and explain to them how hard it is for the international students or even the local students to go out and look for jobs by the time they finish. We all know not everyone is rich, they might get a loan or have someone else paying their fees, at the end of the day they have to pay it back. By the time they complete their courses – I myself will be owing a huge amount, maybe more than $40,000 by the time I complete my course – so it would be easier if we have on-campus placements rather than going out, doing a part-time job, and looking for jobs after we graduate … Everyone needs a job at the end of the day, the main reason for doing courses is to go further in your career, getting whatever job you want to do. I will make them understand, make it clear to them what the students think.

Q: What are your feelings on the dramatic increase in international students being recruited to the university?

A: It’s a two-way answer. It is good for students, because I don’t want to put a hold on students who want to come to Canada to study – I don’t say ‘no’ to that. And the other answer would be: the University must have been prepared for this, they know how the place is around –

Q: You mean the infrastructure?

A: Yes, the infrastructure, the CBRM transit, the housing. They must know – more than us. It’s something with the Union, we need to have better connections with [the university]; I heard from the Union that they don’t share the information of how many admissions they’re giving out and how many students are coming in, so that’s what I want to know. I want to make sure there’s a healthy relationship between the Union and the administrative department of CBU, at least let us know so that we can help students. I don’t say no to the admissions – ‘don’t bring them in’ or something like that – but if you are getting them, let us know so that we can take steps or we can sit down and talk [about] if it’s possible or not. So many students – we have students who slept on roads, on the bus shelter and all – so we can see that not happening if we think ahead. We can provide them with whatever possibilities [there are], could even request them to just put a hold on it for some time, the admissions, and see what is happening around, and then go ahead.

Q: So prepare first and then –

A: Yes. When we write exams we do the same thing right? First we prepare, and then we come out and [write] them. We don’t just come out and [write] them.

Q: There’s three people running for President. What sets you apart from the other two candidates?

A: Thinking. I don’t see most of these ideas coming from anyone, because everyone is behind part-time jobs, housing, events, and microwaves or things like that. So these are, I think it’s a basic thing; with a huge amount of Indian students, Diwali – it should be done, because it’s a basic thing for all of them to celebrate their festival away from home. And with the part-time jobs they’re promising, I don’t think a President after being elected can build something like Walmart to give students jobs. I don’t think that will happen. This place needs to grow with the infrastructure, and the government needs to do something, or business should grow for the part-time jobs – unless that happens, no one here can do anything; even if you might provide jobs, we’ve only got Caper Conveinence and the Pit right? So not many of [the students] would be getting jobs. Those are the promises I’ve been hearing from people. Whatever is there, if the truth is hard to say, we’ve [still] got to say it. Just for the purposes of the election, there’s no need to make promises which cannot be done.

Q: So the two changes you’ve mentioned, the bus shelter and on-campus placements –

A: And also, with the thing going around about ‘culturism’ or community politics, I want to put an end to that. Because we don’t see any Canadian student, any local student standing for this election, that’s what’s bothering me right now. Because I don’t think students are interacting with the locals, I don’t see that happening. People, students need to know that when we’re in a place – I’m not saying that they’re completely ignoring them or something like that – be we need to educate them in a way [that says] ‘we’ve got to be with all of them’. We post about our multiculturalism, about CBU, that needs to be there. We can’t spoil it.

Q: It’s interesting that you mention that, because you’re from Southern India, and what people have been noticing within the Indian community at CBU recently is a somewhat stark divide between South and North Indian student groups. Is this just political baggage that people bring with them from home, or is there some other cause of this divide?

A: Here it’s a bit tricky … The people running for election now, they just want to be in that seat, so many of them don’t even know what it takes – the seat they’re running for. With the people I’ve interacted with that are running for several positions, it’s a popularity contest. In a way, to get into the position, they’re doing whatever they can. So most of the majority being North, South – I don’t belong to any majority section now, that’s what is happening. People are even asking for votes like ‘you do me a favour and I do you a favour’ … I don’t know why people are taking it so – they need to take it seriously, but only regarding the position and what needs to be done when you are in that position. Not just however it is you’re going to get that position. And bringing community into it, it’s a bad thing, we don’t encour

age it back home.

Q: So you’re saying people may be using these regional differences as a way to rally support for them against someone from a different community?

A: Yes. So I say think wisely, think [about] what a candidate has to say before – assuming he’s from North, South, East, or West – when you’re under one roof students should be one nationality. Concerns should be our main issues, rather than where you’re from – that shouldn’t be happening. People are so occupied within the Indian community that no one is, I don’t think anyone is looking after the residence people or the local people; what problems do they have? What would they like to see? I’ve spoken to some of the students, I don’t want to give out their names, but they say that racism is exists in this college – people are so rude to them … That the hostel [, cafeteria,] food is not good, that too many people are sitting in groups, speaking a different language – they don’t understand it and people find it a bit rude. Because they don’t understand what they’re laughing about, or what they’re doing. People are so occupied amongst themselves that they’re not bothering about anyone [else]. So I want to educate them that this is not the way we [behave], we come from a different place, we’ve got to respect their culture and at the same time promote our culture. At the end of the day we’re all students, so student should be our nationality. That’s what my main aim in getting people together is.

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like students to know before heading to the polls?

A: Yes. Don’t go by experience, because I’m running against an already-sitting President. So the only thing is I can point out several negative things – but I don’t do negative campaigning – so there are things which need to be changed, the world would never have been a better place unless someone had started something new. So try something new this time. I’ve got my plans, whatever I’ve said or stated I will put my 100% effort into doing that.

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