Meet new DSU President Dan Nicholson

- June 10, 2015

Dan Nicholson, outside the Student Union Building. (Nick Pearce photo)
Dan Nicholson, outside the Student Union Building. (Nick Pearce photo)

Dan Nicholson is settling right into his new position as president of the Dalhousie Student Union.

Although the new DSU executive has held office for only a few weeks now, Nicholson says there are already so many things on the go — first and foremost the upcoming Student Union Building renovations.

“The energy around this project has been absolutely incredible,” says Nicholson, a Neuroscience student at Dal.

Nicholson says one of his key priorities as DSU president is connecting students more closely with the union, and the SUB renovations will be a key part of achieving that goal.

“This will bring students into their union building,” he explains. “And once they are here, we will have various outlets that students can interact with in order to get involved.”

As a sign, perhaps, of growing student engagement on campus, March’s DSU elections had the highest voter turnout in four years, at 18 per cent. Nicholson credits the hard work of the DSU elections committee. “The advertising was fantastic,” he says, “and there have been some suggestions as to how we can improve so we can build on this year’s success.”

Learning and leadership

Nicholson, entering his fifth year of studies at Dal, is working towards his Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Law and Society. “I had planned to attend the School of Pharmacy here at Dal,” he says, “but I fell in love with Neuroscience after volunteering in a lab during my first year.”

Nicholson is a relative newcomer to the DSU, having not served in an official capacity with the union prior to being elected president. “I’ve learned in a short period of time that this job is about empowering others to accomplish their goals and lending support wherever and whenever possible,” he says.

He says that lesson carries over from his time as president of the Dalhousie Undergraduate Neuroscience Society, which gave him a taste of the role student leadership plays within the university.

“The Undergraduate Neuroscience Society members looked to me for leadership and decisiveness,” he explains. “This meant that I had to be well versed in the issues that the society and the members were facing."

After Nicholson completes his studies at Dal, he's interested in exploring his interest in foreign policy and international relations. “I’m hoping to gain a more robust understanding of the interactions that Canada has with other states.”

Focused on students

In the meantime, Dan has big plans for the DSU. One project he’s focused on for the upcoming year is working with the university to improve wait times for counselling services. Last month Nicholson and others on the DSU executive attended the Association of Atlantic Universities Mental Health Summit to learn more about the issue. “It was an excellent opportunity to get a sense of the different counselling service models that are out there,” he says.

In another more long-term goal, he hopes to look closely at food offerings through the union and beyond.

“The students have been very vocal about what they want and my goal is to do the best I can to get us there,” he says.


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