Jose Carvalho is currently on the SUO’s board for Director at Large, as appointed by the board, and was a candidate in the SUO fall 2020 By-elections. He discussed his stance on prominent student issues during the By-election candidate debate on October 8th, 2020, but The Phoenix wanted to know more about Carvalho’s candidacy in the fall By-elections, his platform, and his current position as Director at Large. Carvalho kindly agreed to participate in a virtual interview and shared an insider’s perspective on the SUO and the Fall 2020 By-elections. He provided valuable insight into his experiences with the SUO and the election process, in addition to sharing helpful advice for students who may want to get involved with the SUO but are unsure how.
Opinions Editor: Why and how did you get involved with the SUO?
Jose Carvalho: Back in June I saw their advertisement for open positions in the Board of Directors and at the time I was working a lot with student advocacy and guidance through LASO’s Student Ambassadors, so I thought I was a perfect fit for the position and soon I was appointed by the Board of Directors at the end of July.
OE: What student issue are you most passionate about and what changes do you want to see made in the SUO?
JC: I think that what we are lacking as a community in the University is transparency between the SUO, its resources, and students. There is so much this University and the Okanagan can offer and it's just a matter of guiding and instructing students to be more aware and take advantage of them. Besides that, I think currently the main point of the SUO is to bring comfort to students. As we all go through tough times, the Students’ Union should be focusing on how to make students more at ease by respecting difficulties individuals might have and be available to address student concerns both on and off-campus.
OE: What do you think is the most important part of the role of Director at Large?
JC: Personally, I believe that is the contact with students. Communication between the board and students is crucial to ensure that the Directors at Large and other elected positions are being truthful to student interests and making sure that this consultation is multilateral in a way that different groups of students with different backgrounds are heard and respected.
OE: What is the most challenging part of working for the SUO? Is it difficult to balance your student and SUO work-life?
JC: Not at all, I think they are complementary. Experiencing first-hand as a student how things can be improved and what sort of problems we face on a daily basis is what drives me to have ideas and suggestions to make the university a better place to study and work at.
OE: What is the most rewarding part of working for the SUO?
JC: Seeing students take advantage of the resources to improve themselves both as individuals and professionals.
OE: How do you think the student election process could improve?
JC: One line that elections could improve on is promotion. The SUO, especially with the October By-elections, had a very tight timeline in a midterm-filled month since the announcement to the end of voting, and that resulted in poor communication and promotion in social media, which honestly made it even harder to make people care about what is being voted on.
OE: Did the virtual platform of the fall 2020 By-elections present any difficulties?
JC: One obstacle I personally found was the reliability in social media especially with how I am currently feeling about my digital footprint. Just seeing how social media is detrimental for my mental health I think that following people I don’t know, having the pressure of providing the best platform I can, and creating expectations are tensions I don’t need in my life right now. It focuses too much on media and looks and not enough on hard work.
OE: What is your mission statement as an advocate for students?
JC: Effort, strength, and experience to ensure the best use of student time and money towards creating value for all on and off-campus.
OE: What are you aiming to do differently in your position, perhaps in comparison to previous Directors at Large?
JC: As I said previously in the debate, I am a very honest and outspoken person, if I disagree with something I will respectfully say something about it no matter who I am talking to. One thing I would do differently to other Directors at Large is actually look for the problems students face and fight to protect their rights and views. Most Directors hardly leave their comfort zone and that is exactly what I aim to do if elected.
OE: What do you want UBCO students to know about you and your position, whether you are re-elected or not?
JC: To make this university better we need you, students, to communicate and engage with the Students’ union. We have a lot of resources and openness to do anything if rightfully pitched, so gather your ideas, suggestions, and feedback and reach out to your directors. They are elected by your student vote to represent your voice in decisions for the entire university, so don’t let that slip through. Participate!
OE: What piece of advice would you give to students who want to get involved in the SUO but don’t know how?
JC: My advice would be to join a club and get to know how the SUO works from the outside, understand where it succeeds and where it has flaws, take some time to process how you could make a difference in it, and talk to the current board of directors or me about any questions you might have.