The new SFUO president talks about this year’s campaign and looks to the future

On Feb. 11, the results of the 2017 Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) general election were released. The election saw a voter turnout of 14.6 per cent, doubling last year’s general election turnout of 7.8 per cent.

Hadi Wess, current vice-president social of the SFUO and a candidate on the United slate, was elected president with 2,481 votes. 

In a statement to the Fulcrum, Wess discussed campaigning for this year’s election, the challenges he faced during the campaign period, and his current plans as president-elect.

“I’ve learned a lot from the previous two elections and the two last mandates that I have served as vice-president social of the SFUO,” wrote Wess. “I was able to bring my experience, knowledge, and skills to run a stronger and more successful campaign this year alongside my teammates.”

According to Wess, he “had the opportunity to speak to many students in classes and one-on-one” to “get input from (them), so that decisions made in the future represent different identities, opinions, and perspectives.”

Wess said that his social media presence reached over 25,000 people in 10 days, and while he was happy with the increased student engagement, there were still challenges during the campaign period itself.

“It is very sad that, often during elections, some people find that using the politics of fear, hatred, and bullying is what could get them elected,” wrote Wess. “Because of that we see many baseless rumours and allegations with no foundations being spread out against some candidates.”

Despite these “rumours and allegations,” the new SFUO president is proud of his team for standing “strong, united, loving, and compassionate,” and of students for making “informed decisions and challenging those voices of fear, bigotry, and hatred.”

While Wess will not assume his new position until May 1, he said that in this interim period he will be “starting conversations and negotiations to build the foundation for a smooth transition and a successful mandate next year.”

However, come May 1, Wess said that he and the rest of the new executive will be “busy between projects like 101 Week organization, summer and fall U-Passes, budget preparation and presentation, the health plan, providing support to clubs, and running SFUO services and campaigns.”

Wess also said that he will be working on developing an SFUO office on the south-end of campus, as well as negotiating with the administration for more student spaces.

“For me, elections always serve as a reminder of how far I can push myself when chasing after something that I care about and believe in, and in this case, it is our campus and the student movement,” wrote Wess.

“One of the biggest lessons that I learned was that being a true leader does not necessarily require holding a title or assuming a role, it’s in our actions, behaviours, mentalities, and attitudes.”

“However, winning the election is the easiest part of the job, and I know that myself and the next executive team have a lot of work to do to fight for our 36,000 students’ rights, advocate on their behalf, and accommodate their needs.”