The University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union is preparing to hold its annual general election. This year, six candidates are vying for four executive positions, two of which are uncontested.
The Sheaf spoke with the candidates to discuss their platforms.
Platform points: Promoting a more affordable and accessible education, advocating for an inclusive environment and promoting accountability on campus
Abhineet Goswami is a third-year neuroscience student and the current USSU vice-president operations and finance. Goswami says that he will lead an executive team that fosters accountability, engagement and support for students.
“By entrusting me with your votes, you are choosing to place empathetic, student-centric and collective decision-making at the forefront of the USSU,” Goswami said.
Goswami hopes to connect marginalized communities on campus by promoting collaboration between campus leaders to ensure an equitable, diverse and inclusive campus environment.
“We are all stronger together when we take the time to bridge our understanding with one another.”
Goswami says that he will advocate for a more affordable post-secondary education by increasing the number of grants and bursaries available, especially for international and Indigenous students and those with disabilities.
Platform points:Advocating for international and Indigenous students, promoting a more affordable education, sexual assault awareness and improving engagement with students
Ryan O’Connell is a third-year political studies student and former executive member of the St. Thomas More Students’ Union. O’Connell says that he is running for president because he hopes to reconnect students with the USSU.
“More can be done … when it comes to student outreach and government advocacy,” O’Connell said. “We need to be a union that is truly the voice of our students.”
To promote better engagement with students, O’Connell wants to review the current USSU bylaws and policies.
“Many policies and sections within the bylaw lack specificity and are oddly ambiguous. A lot of work needs to be done to ensure the continued good and transparent governance of our students’ union.”
O’Connell says that his main priority is to make sure that students feel represented.
“I want to continue and promote the good work we currently do, but also broaden our horizons as a union to ensure we are living up to our own descriptions of our roles and our duty to students.”
Vice-President Operations & Finance
Platform points: Increasing financial aid for student groups, promoting safety on campus and addressing urban issues relevant to students
Lia Storey-Gamble is an urban planning student and volunteer for several non-profit organizations where she has represented young people on the federal, provincial and municipal levels.
“I have been active in campus activism and politics since before I was a university student,” Storey-Gamble said.
Vice-president operations and finance is one of two uncontested positions in this year’s election. Storey-Gamble says that she is prepared to represent and advocate for her fellow students.
“I may not hold an [elected] position within the university, but I bring a very experienced new voice to the USSU while also having an in-depth knowledge of the organization.”
Storey-Gamble hopes to develop a grant that will be used to renovate campus group spaces and increase their organizational capacity.
Drawing upon her experience as an urban planning student, Storey-Gamble wants to connect with the city to make off-campus parking more accessible and optimize the transit system.
Vice-President Academic Affairs
Platform points: Advocating for more accessible open learning resources, upgrading technologies in classrooms and promoting student rights
Sharon Jacob is a third-year biochemistry student and current member of the University Student Council where she represents the College of Arts and Science and sits on a few committees.
Jacob says that her leadership experience and involvement with student clubs make her a good fit for vice-president academic affairs.
“This position stems from being able to represent student voices, and since I have been involved with a variety of student groups, I know I have the tools to adequately take on this role,” Jacob said.
Jacob’s first focus is to upgrade technologies within classrooms, including improved recording capacities and access to the internet.
“As we are relying on technology more and more, we need to make sure that students have the resources to access their work.”
After Sam Papp rescinded his candidacy, vice-president academic affairs became the second uncontested position in this year’s election.
Vice-President Student Affairs
Platform points: Promoting access to student support services, mental health awareness and advocating for a more collaborative and inclusive environment
Monisha Chakder is a fourth-year biochemistry student and current executive member of the International Students’ Association. Chakder says that her passion for enhancing student experiences is what encouraged her to run for vice-president student affairs.
“I believe students need a leader who is easily approachable and friendly,” Chakder said. “Students will always find me by their side, not only as their representative but also as their best friend who they can approach with any concern they have.”
Chakder says that she will work on making student support services more accessible and eliminate barriers so that all students have equal opportunities.
“As a member of the anti-oppression and anti-racism ad-hoc committee, I have been working towards breaking barriers and making our campus more inclusive.”
If elected, Chakder pledges to promote anti-racism and intercultural communication training for members of the campus community to create a more inclusive and welcoming environment.
Platform points: Advocating for international and Indigenous students, promoting sustainability on campus and addressing parking and housing issues
Punya Miglani is a third-year psychology student and former director of the India Students’ Association. As a member of several committees and organizations on campus, Miglani says he is a good fit for vice-president student affairs.
“Working with so many students coming from diverse backgrounds, I understand what students need… I want to be their voice,” Miglani said.
In particular, Miglani hopes to extend his support to international and Indigenous students.
“I will make sure that we as students have proper and adequate representation in all sorts of university administrative bodies.”
On the topic of sustainability, Miglani says he wants to incorporate and encourage sustainable ideas and techniques on campus by providing grants and recognizing sustainable research initiatives.
“I want to save the present and give what our future deserves.”
Voting takes place on March 30 and 31 on PAWS. Visit ussu.ca/candidates for more information.