MEET YOUR PRESIDENT: DANCE STUDENT UNION EDITION
Co-Presidents: Charlotte Newman and Akeisha de Baat
Originally from Seattle, I am just entering my 4th, and I believe final (!), year at SFU. I came up to Vancouver especially to attend the Contemporary Dance Program within SFU, and have since fallen in love with Vancouver. The Dance Program is extremely supportive of students own creative pursuits, and interdisciplinary creations – it has been a great fit or me throughout the last few years. When I’m not busy with school, rehearsals and performances, I love to continue to explore and get to know Vancouver, hike the surrounding area, read, cook, sew, treat myself to see performances, and spend time with friends. I have quite enjoyed my experiences at SFU and in Vancouver – and believe I have gotten to know both relatively well. In my first year of studies, I lived in the towers in residence up on Burnaby, in my second year I was a CA in the residences, and I have just spent this last year living in Vancouver. Each different experience has taught me more about SFU, and I’m hoping to continue living in Vancouver – at least for the foreseeable future, upon completing my studies.
I am going into my 4th year as a Dance Major Student. I am from Mission BC and recently made the move out to Vancouver this past year after 2 years of commuting. I came to SFU with an open mind, and was blown away by the rich history or teachers and artistic approach. The program is challenging both physically and mentally, but when you love to move as much as I do, it is very rewarding to be around people who inspire, support and challenge you. When I am not submersed in class, rehearsal and outside projects, I enjoy hanging out with friends, and making cards. I look forward to my fourth and final year in the program.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO BECOME INVOLVED IN YOUR STUDENT UNION?
At the beginning of each fall semester, the Dance Program has an area wide meeting – all the students are gathered together, and the Professors introduce themselves, and show dates and other business is discussed. In my first year, this meeting also included a call from the then DSU for a first year representative within the union. I figured it would be a great way to get to know more people – why not , volunteered, and have been pretty heavily involved ever since.
I started off in my second year as the 1st Aid representative, and soon found that I enjoyed being apart of something that really tried to connect the dance area student body. Going into my 3rd year Charlotte (my co-president) and I decided to run for presidents together, because we felt we had gotten to know a lot of people and wanted to continue to connect with faculty and students. I have a lot of ideas for the students and really take pride my program and school!
DESCRIBE YOUR EXPERIENCE WITH THE UNION THUS FAR.
In my first year, I was the First Year Representative in the DSU – meaning I essentially brought back important announcements to my class from the Union. In my second year I was just a member at large, and now finishing up my third year, I have just completed my first fall and spring term as co-President. My co-President Akiesha and I, have been reelected, and will be serving as Co-Presidents for the coming year.
I have really enjoyed being a part of the Dance Student Union. Connecting with the students and being a face and voice for all the students is really rewarding. If anyone has a concern, or idea that they would like to voice, I really try and make there opinion matter. I am passionate about dance and about the people and space that I practice in. If I can make connections with people and make the space we practice in the best possible then I am a happy camper.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST REWARDING PART OF BEING CO-PRESIDENTS? THE MOST CHALLENGING?
To date, I feel like the most rewarding element of being President (or in this case co-president) is simply knowing I have a powerful voice within the SFU dance community, and not being afraid to use that voice. In past, students have approached me with issues they may be concerned or wondering about, and I have intern brought those questions to the faculty. Faculty members also might meet with me to discuss certain issues the would like to me to pass onto the student body. Knowing that I am helping to facilitate a dialogue between all members of the Dance area, and the greater school – hopefully for the better – is very rewarding. In of its self, I love getting to meet and interact with so many interesting and amazing people, who I doubt I would have met if I were not Co-President. I would say the most challenging element is getting student support and awareness of the issues we might be trying to bring to light. Many of the dance students are very supportive and encouraging of the DSU’s activities – I’m sure compared percentage wise, it would be similar to many other unions. However, as we have a very small union – around 60 people – it can sometimes be challenging organize and get larger groups of people interested in the DSU’s activities.
WHAT ARE THE CURRENT INITIATIVES AND GOALS FOR THE DANCE STUDENT UNION?
Currently, I think we are hoping to support students in the coming year by bringing in a range of workshops and classes not offered within the school, and intern, support interdisciplinary performance opportunities in hopes that dancers will gain collaborative, choreographic, and performance experience.
WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO A STUDENT THAT IS CONSIDERING THE OPPORTUNITY TO BE A PART OF THE UNION?
Go for it! We are a very welcoming and fun bunch, and always looking for more people to attend meetings. The Dance Student Union has been a great way for me to meet and connect with many different people, and most of all, I really enjoy being a part of it. It is a low stress/pressure environment. Everyone is there cause they care about some sort of issue and want to have a say in the choices that are made. During the fall and spring semester, we hold open meetings every week that any Union member is welcome to come to. We also will also be appointing further executive positions in the fall, and anyone is welcome to try for those positions as well.
War Requiem 2013.
Photo Credit: Sheng Ho.