Finishing up their first term as ratified groups, the USask People’s Party Club and Vegans of USask both aim to bring people together and increase awareness around their areas of interest. Their founders think that student groups can be an avenue for correcting negative assumptions.
Both groups were ratified in the fall of 2018, and their founders look back on their first term satisfied with how well they were received. The founders of both the USask PPC and Vegans of USask believe that their clubs have a role to play on campus: to increase the awareness among the student body of federal politics and veganism, respectively.
Gage Haubrich, a second-year economics student and USask PPC president, founded the club after a year of being president of the University of Saskatchewan Campus Conservatives group. He found that his beliefs aligned more with the newly created libertarian-right People’s Party of Canada and decided to find like-minded people by starting a new group.
Haubrich believes that student groups, such as Usask PPC, play an important role in increasing student involvement in politics.
“I think [political student groups] are pretty valuable, because especially as younger people, you are going to be in Canada for a long time, so you should want the country to reflect how you feel,” Haubrich said. “Getting involved in politics is a way to help do that.”
Haubrich says that his group also creates opportunities for students to have conversations that challenge their assumptions.
“On campus, everyone has their assumptions about everything,” Haubrich said. “When we are in the Tunnel, though, people come up to us and get talking, and we can have a conversation about those assumptions if they aren’t true. But if [the group] didn’t exist, then people would just go around thinking what they think.”
Despite the difference in topics of interest, the co-founders of Vegans of USask have similar goals with regards to raising awareness. Kirti Garg, a fourth-year physiology and pharmacology student, and Kenda Mullock, a third-year nutrition student, started their group not only to bring the vegans of the university together but also to combat negative assumptions about veganism in the wider student body.
“One of the hardest parts about being vegan is the social aspect of it — it can be isolating if there are no vegan options,” Garg and Mullock wrote in an email to the Sheaf. “We know there are assumptions and stereotypes about veganism, but we want to destigmatize it by normalizing it. With our club, we can make a positive name for veganism by sharing delicious food, fun events and important information.”
Garg and Mullock got the idea for the group from a Facebook group called USask Vegans/Vegetarians. They decided to start Vegans of USask because they felt that a student group would allow for more personal interactions.
“Social media is great, but it can only get us so far,” Garg and Mullock wrote. “Now we have bi-weekly meetings. People can be vegan for many reasons, and it is interesting to see all the different perspectives.”
Both the USask PPC and Vegans of USask plan to be around for a long time — their founders believe there is enough interest in the groups to make them sustainable in the long run. Looking to the future, Haubrich hopes to expand the reach of the USask PPC.
“We are going to keep having events like meeting [members] of the electoral district association, so students can join in and do stuff outside of the school,” Haubrich said. “Also, we plan to do more outreach by setting up tables in places that aren’t just the Arts Tunnel.”
As for Vegans of USask, Garg and Mullock plan to use their group to push for change at the university.
“We’re currently trying to convince Tim Hortons on campus to start offering non-dairy milk,” Garg and Mullock wrote. “This small change will benefit so many people, not just vegans.”
The two clubs show that, despite the large number of student groups at the U of S, new groups can still make a difference. Both the USask PPC and Vegans of USask have been well received by their target groups, but the conversations that they have started can benefit campus culture at large.
J.C Balicanta Narag / Outreach Director
Photo: Riley Deacon / Photo Editor