As winter semester begins to wrap up, Craig Fernandez and Husoni Raymond prepare to finish their terms as Student Union Presidents at UNB and STU respectively. With the incoming executive teams having been officially elected, The Brunswickan spoke with the outgoing presidents to discuss their time in office.
UNB Fredericton’s Student Union President this year was Craig Fernandez, who ran on a platform that focused on expanding clubs and societies, strengthening the campus event brand and expanding advocacy connections. One major movement that came out of last year was the “Don’t Cut Our Future” campaign, headed by Fernandez, that addressed financial aid in the province.
“We saw lots of good success come from that [including meeting with members of the Legislative Assembly] and meetings with the minister,” Fernandez explained. This is an ongoing initiative, as Fernandez awaits for the coming budget to hopefully reflect the recommendations of that campaign.
Fernandez is originally from Sunny Corner, NB, and chose UNB Fredericton to ease the transition following high school. He reflected, “I don’t think I was ready to make a huge leap…Fredericton was a couple of hours away and I had some friends going, I think that made the transition to university easier.” Initially, he grappled with what program to pursue, but landed on Renaissance College, with a minor in Business Administration, due to the “uniqueness” of its program offerings.
The initial transition process, “was overwhelming, but you learn quickly—you learn on your feet.” As he reflected on his time spent in office and his legacy, Fernandez expressed the hope that people, “look back and think that they had a good year.”
St. Thomas’ Student Union President for 2019/2020 was Husoni Raymond, who ran on a platform focusing on, “innovation and collaboration, enhancement of the student experience, and [increasing] transparency and accountability.” Still, he keeps a campaign poster detailing his platform on the wall in his office, to hold himself accountable to remind him of his initial goals.
“I think we have done a great job in meeting our mandate, and delivering what we promised the students,” Raymond said of his executive team.
He further explained that, following the election, they sat down together to outline action items relevant to the pillars of his platform. These are reflected in engagement campaigns such as the Wall of Debt in James Dunn Hall, which allowed students to write their total student debt on a brick to symbolize, “how not having strong financial support from the government can pose a barrier to accessing post secondary education.” Raymond feels that prioritizing, “grassroots campaigning,” and student engagement are what allowed himself, and his team, to reach the goals set at the onset of his position.
Originally hailing from Kingston, Jamaica, Raymond did not plan on attending university in Canada. It was by chance that he attended a university fair with a friend, saw the UNB booth, and was drawn in by the possibility of having a new experience in a different country. With his end goal being law school, he felt that, “being able to learn within this kind of social justice environment,” would be valuable for his future career.
Now, as he faces the end of his time at St.Thomas and reflects on his position, Raymond hopes that he is remembered as, “someone who cared and was passionate about enhancing the student experience.” He reflected, “that’s what compelled me to be involved in student politics, and that’s what has motivated me to continue and always [give] my best.”