Meet your CSA Election candidates: Derek Alton

Monday, March 7, 2011


Name: Derek Alton

Running for: Local Affairs Commissioner


1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself. (Take the opportunity to introduce yourself to student in whatever way you’d like).

Hi everyone, my name is Derek Alton.  I am one of those weird people who wakes up every morning thinking about how I can change the world.  I was originally accepted here for Marine and Freshwater Biology but after spending time in Colombia with the people I decided to switch to the humanities.  It amazed me how people who faced such poverty and hardship could carry so much joy, and I realized it was because of the communities they built to support each other.  Ever since then I have been looking at how to foster community, bringing people together to solve issues, whether it is climate change or HIV/AIDS.  I am a person who tries to describe myself through what I do and not what I say and who looks at every experience as a learning opportunity.  I have had the fortune of taking classes in many different disciplines, from psychology to english, economics to philosophy and will be graduating this year with a degree in politics and a certificate in leadership.

I love people, and if you ever see me around campus please come up and talk to me; tell me about yourself and how you want to change the world.  After all it is us that will shape the future, so let’s build it together. 

2. Why do you want to represent students on the CSA Executive?

The Local Affairs Commissioner’s role has great potential to help students create a positive impact in the community.  It can open doors for all of us to find really amazing experiences and opportunities in the city of Guelph.  I want to help open these doors to you and through this process to improve the interactions that we have with our community.

I want to do this because I strongly believe that it is through community that we will be able to solve the world’s.

I also believe that the CSA has so much potential to really improve the experience for students at Guelph and that it is not currently reaching this potential.  With the right board and executive it will be able to reach this potential and I believe I can be part of this.

3. What experiences or skills do you have that make you an ideal candidate for your position?

I have been very fortunate to experience many different aspects of campus.  As an ambassador I had to make sure to represent the best side of UoG to incoming and perspective students as I showed them around campus.  As an OV I worked hard to help create a strong community atmosphere on campus.  As a LEAD peer helper I worked to help groups develop their leadership skills and to collaborate with each other.

Last year you elected me to represent you on the University Senate, the highest body for academic issues.  Through this experience I learned a lot about what it means to be a student representative and to make their concerns heard and understood.

My experience working with Bracelet of Hope helped me realize the great potential that exists when groups on campus partner with groups in the community.  This is something I hope the CSA can explore more in the coming year.

All these experiences in different ways have prepared me for the large responsibility that comes with being an executive member of the CSA, and representing all of you to the community.

4. Can you outline some experiences that have given you knowledge of CSA policies and the way things are run?

I have worked with the CSA in many different capacities, from sitting on the CSA board, both as a board member and as an observer, to going through the process of creating a new CSA club (The Bracelet of Hope – University of Guelph Chapter).  I have worked with the student risk management policy the guides all CSA activities.  This past year I spent time at the bike center, bought garden fresh boxes through the food bank and I have participated in Meal Exchanges Trick or Eat campaign every year (All of these are programs that the Local Affairs Commissioner is responsible for).  I have also worked closely with the past and present CSA exec, sitting on a couple of the Executive Support Committee’s and the drop fee’s campaign.  I have also worked with the executive on the yearly SLIC leadership conference.  There are very few aspects of the CSA that I have not been connected with or involved in some way.  I think this intimate understanding will help me in the role of Local Affairs Commissioner.

5. What goals do you have for your term?

I have two main goals for the coming year in the Local Affairs position.  The first is to provide the services under my portfolio not only to the highest quality but with new innovative spark.  I want to build upon the great work that has already been done and bring in new ideas to take these programs to the next level.

Secondly I want to help foster collaboration between all the groups that this portfolio touches on.  The reality is that we can accomplish so much more if we work together and I hope to live by this moto.  In particular I am interested in building bridges between the campus and the greater Guelph community with the hopes of creating opportunities for students to get involved, make connections and gain valuable experience.

Specifically there are a few key issues that the Local Affairs Commissioner will have to deal with in the coming year.

Starting in September the city is hoping to role out a whole new set of bus routes and I want to make sure students are educated about these new routes and that they have a place to give feedback that will be actively used by the city.  Since this is a brand new set of routes, student’s feedback can be really important in changing and perfecting this new system.

There will also be a fall provincial election this year.  I want to work with many groups on campus to make sure students are well informed and able to engage with the candidates.  I also want to make sure that there is a voting booth on campus.

Also we will be negotiating a new contract with the city over our bus pass.  I want to make sure that we are well represented at the negotiating table and that we can get the best possible deal and the fairest price.  I think we can do this by working with the city and helping them understand our situation while appreciating theirs.  By taking this approach instead of fighting them I think we will get a better result and maintain positive relationships.

Finally this year a lot of work has been put into the Awareness of Sexual Assault and Prevention (ASAP) Committee on campus.  This is really important and I hope to continue this work.

6. The undergraduate student body is large and diverse; how will you ensure you represent the interests of students?

Our diversity is one of the great qualities of Guelph, but it also poses some challenges when it comes to effective representation.  I have been very fortunate to get to know many of you and to develop large networks that reflect some of this diversity.  These relationships will help me hear many different perspectives and not just the ones that reinforce my own views.  I also want to make myself as accessible as possible to the student body and to do this I plan on having a large amount of open office hours and to spend at least one day a week working in the UC courtyard so people can connect with me, raise their concerns and just talk.  I also am open to suggestions from all of you on how I can be more accessible for you.

6. (a) The Local Affairs Commissioner represents the interests of students to elected officials and organizations in the Guelph community. Why do you think it’s important for students to be included in discussions at the local level?

At over 18,000 undergraduate students we make up a large part of the Guelph community and it is important that we are not only heard but also involved in this community.  As students, we are able to raise legitimate concerns and also bring lots of skills and assets to the community.  I think so far we have not played a large enough role in our community and part of this is our fault.  It is my hope that as Local Affairs Commissioner I will be able to help build bridges, create dialogue and include students in the discussions that are happening at the local level.  By becoming more actively engaged in our community we will find ourselves included in these local discussions.

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