Matt Simpson will be the first Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA) president since the organization was suspended for two years after a hazing incident.
After an incident involving Skulk festivities, the Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA) was suspended from registering as a student group on May 1, 2014. The Students’ Union then attempted to create a new representative body for students in Lister, and ended up creating eight Lister representative positions to report to the Students’ Union for 2016-17 (with no representative association).
On March 10, Simpson, a second-year biological sciences student and current Students’ Union Lister representative, was elected LHSA president for 2017-18 in an uncontested race. Simpson takes office on May 1.
“For the last two years, students in Lister haven’t had a voice,” he said. “They don’t know what it’s like to have a voice and we need to bring that back. Advocacy is going to be the focus, along with mental and physical wellness of the residents.”
On March 24, 10 vice-presidents will also be elected to the LHSA, filling the following portfolios: finance, operations, academic and human resources, internal, wellness, public relations, and one for each of the four towers.
In the past, the LHSA had nine vice-presidents, but a new portfolio was added to look after constituents’ mental and physical health.
There will also be an elected coordinator for each floor next year in the LHSA. Pay for all elected positions will be based on the organization’s 2013-14 budget, with vice-presidents earning a similar amount to residence assistants, and floor coordinators receiving “quite a bit less,” according to Simpson.
Simpson also plans to bring back tower-wide events that the LHSA was known for to build community within floors and towers.
“Events like that shouldn’t necessarily have a negative connotation to them anymore, especially with the LHSA going forward,” he said. “I think we need to recognize that those events may or may not have been toxic in the past but my mission and my hope is that they’re not like that in the future.”
Overall, he plans to foster a positive relationship with Residence Services, the university body that manages residences, to avoid the previous “feud” between it and the LHSA.
“I really don’t want (the relationship between the LHSA and Residence Services) to be as toxic as it was in years prior,” he said. “It was toxic for everyone, for members of the LHSA, for resident assistants, for the first-years and the upper-years on the floor that were not part of the feud.”
As a second-year, Simpson has no personal experience with the LHSA. He said he believes building a healthy relationship with Residence Services can start at the top with him and his executive team.
“If we have a strong working relationship with (Residence Services) then throughout our training and (resident assistant) training there doesn’t have to be mention of resident assistants versus floor coordinators,” he said. “There can be a recognition that we’re working towards a common goal, we might just be doing it a bit differently.”
Simpson plans to address LHSA office space as soon as his tenure begins. The old LHSA office in the basement of Mackenzie Hall was recently converted into a storage space, he said, and a new space needs to be found.
He anticipates that the Lister meal plan and deferred maintenance to be important advocacy points next year. Internally, he hopes find strategies to train LHSA floor coordinators on CPR and suicide prevention tactics.