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100 Laurier Avenue is one of the oldest buildings on campus and is synonymous with the faculty of arts. Image: Charley Dutil/Fulcrum
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The Fulcrum shines a spotlight on Lindsay Coles, Allie Skwarchuk and Celina Seguin

The University of Ottawa and the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) are currently holding elections for four different elected student bodies. This article will look at the races taking place in the faculty of arts for the UOSU Board of Directors (BOD) and the University of Ottawa Senate.

UOSU’s BOD has a varying number of student representatives from each faculty who convene monthly to guide the work of UOSU as an organization. The number of representatives per faculty is dependent on the size of each faculty. The positions are unpaid and the main role of the BOD is to vote on motions put forward by the UOSU and be members of a number of union subcommittees. 

The faculty of arts has two candidates for three available seats: Linden Coles and Allie Skwarchuk.

For those who wish to get familiar with the candidates, here is the transcription of interviews they did with the Fulcrum. All answers have been edited for length and clarity 

The Fulcrum (F): Can you introduce yourself in two to three sentences?

Linden Coles (LC): My name is Lindsay Coles, my preferred name is Linden and I am in my third-year communications with a minor in feminist and gender studies. I spent the last year working as the vice president of university affairs, Anglophone, for the Communications Students Association (CSA). I care a lot about student government and making it work for students.

Allie Skwarchuk (AS): My name is Allie Skwarchuk and I am a modern languages and world cultures student originally from Winnipeg and I moved to Ottawa when I was 18 to be a page in the House of Commons. I have always been super interested in politics, Parliament, and democracy. I am also a musician, I play the harp and the piano. 

F: Can you talk about previous involvements in student life on campus or relevant experiences that would help you in this role? 

LC: I was the vice president of university affairs for the CSA and that involved working with existing RSG’s [Registered Student Governments] and the advocacy committee. I also participated in the Academic Integrity Council within the university. Through that I got a greater understanding of how student government works within the university and what was a feasible option to improve student life and quality of education. 

AS: To be honest, I’m totally new to student politics. I have been involved in campus through the Ukrainian students club on campus. I am very new to the student politics scene and I know that the seats for the faculty of arts often go unfilled, especially since the new student union came in place. I really believe that it’s important that the seat is filled. My main point in this campaign is to reach out to students and make sure our student voices are heard. If the seat goes unfilled then our student democracy falls apart. 

F: Can you explain in your words what is the mandate for the role you are attempting to be elected to?

LC: I plan on joining various committees and just working through those committees on the students behalf. The job is also to advocate for students to the university and to make sure that students are getting a fair deal when it comes to university’s policies. 

AS: The BOD is a one-year term and there are three seats so this election will be uncontested. The BOD informs the UOSU Executive Committee about various topics in order to represent student voices as a union. 

F: How do you plan on building on the work of your predecessor?

LC: I think what’s most important is just taking stock of where the arts faculty is at right now and students are feeling right now. We should be basing our policies off what students are sharing in regards to their concerns and making decisions based off of what students are struggling with. 

AS: Right, so a lot of the things that I am hoping to do revolve around my personal experiences, my personal trials. Definitely one of the primary things would be for me, improving accessibility and inclusivity on campus during the pandemic. It has been really hard because professors are teaching over the internet, but they were just thrown into that. There wasn’t much training or guidance provided on how to be productive, how to be accessible to all students, dealing with the pandemic and dealing with online learning. So, I want to implement some sort of training for U of O staff to improve inclusivity.

F: What often gets overlooked for your faculty?

LC: I think there is a need to incorporate a more wide variety of voices in the UOSU. I think arts themselves are often overlooked and under prioritized by the university in general. The faculty as a whole is overlooked.

AS: I think that often the Faculty of Arts overlooks students’ support systems. Dictation between the university administration and the students is definitely broken. A lot of students are unhappy with the way the ‘higher-ups’ are handling things. For example, I shouldn’t have to reach out to multiple people multiple times for the answer to a simple issue.

F: How do you intend to facilitate communication between students, the BOD and the Executive Committee?

LC: I intend on maintaining an open door policy, with all students in the faculty, as well as I plan on reaching out to existing RSG’s in the Faculty of Arts. Specifically the president, and their vice president university affairs of these RSG’s and to just sort of take stock of where students are within each department of the faculty of arts, and then working with them, to inform some of the decisions that I’ll be making on the BOD.

AS: That is something I have been thinking about a lot in my campaign is facilitating communication between myself and students. I do not have much of an online presence but I have been trying to improve that so students can reach me. I want my Instagram page to be a place where students can reach me with any concerns they have. My email will always be readily available and I will always be here to talk to students.

F: Is there a particular committee you plan on joining and why?

LC: I plan on joining the Equity Committee. First and foremost, because I care a lot about equity, I am a non-binary trans student of the university, and inclusion is something that is at the forefront of what I care about. I want to make the university life as accessible to everyone as possible. And I think that that needs to be done while trying to dismantle systems of racism, the patriarchy and exclusion. I think that the university should be a safe place for everyone and I want to work on that committee to ensure that it is.

AS: I’m sure that there will be a COVID-19 committee and in terms of transition back into in person. I would maybe also join the finance committee because one of my big things that I wanted to do is bring back that COVID-19 support plan that we had for a bit, I think that was really good, as well as establishing more permanent bursaries. 

F: What is an area that you think the body you are running for can improve and how do you plan on helping to improve it?

LC: One area the BOD can improve on is just having more communication with students. I think that there hasn’t really been a lot of communication between the BOD, and especially art students since there’s been no arts representative at all. So, once again I’ll be having an open door policy. And I’ll be asking students to reach out if they are wanting to share their feelings and thoughts about what’s going on currently at the university.

AS: So this ties back to seats not being filled. I think that’s a big problem. There are still quite a number of seats that are not filled, including executive seats. And I hope that the future executive committee will work to remedy that really quickly. And I will be trying to support them in any way that I can. We can’t have student politics without representation or without people voting. 

F: If you’re elected, by the end of your terms what’s the one thing you would like to be remembered for?

LC: I would just like to be remembered for being someone who isn’t afraid to speak their voice in the face of any injustice or if there’s an issue going on with university, as someone who will stand up for students, regardless of the issue. If someone’s facing some sort of discrimination or anything like that, I want to be known for standing up and amplifying their voice.

AS: I’d really like students to remember me for listening to them. You know this is almost not about me, in some ways, I’d really like to just be known in general because then students would contact me, in order to have their voice heard.

F: Why should students vote for you?

LC: Students should vote for me because I think that’ll be an excellent representative for them. I have experience representing in an academic setting and I have found the most success in doing that and in my history of representing and through my work as the vice president  university service and I think that I will be a very strong advocate for their voices

AS: It doesn’t matter if they vote for me or not, because the election is uncontested, I’d rather they just vote. In general, whether it’s for me or for the other candidates. I encourage all students to read up on all of the candidates. 

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The U of O Senate has one student representative from each faculty. The U of O Senate is responsible for setting educational policies and dealing with academic issues.

The Faculty of Arts has one candidate for one available seat: Celina Seguin.

For those who wish to get familiar with Seguin, here is the transcript of her interview with Fulcrum.

The Fulcrum (F): Can you give a brief introduction about yourself?

Celina Seguin (CS): My name is Celina, I’m in my second year of communications and English. I’m running for re-election for the faculty of arts over the Senate. It has been an honor and privilege to serve this year. I have learned about the intricacies of the administrative process and learn about how we can make more significant changes on a personal level. I’m involved in many different extracurriculars, for example, I am the vice president of health, wellness, and accountability, with Alpha Phi. I like to be involved in a variety of areas in student life because I feel like that’s very important when coming in terms of advocacy, the ability to reach out and represent and serve such a diverse student population.

F: Can you talk about previous involvements in student life on campus or relevant experiences that would help you in this role? 

CS: In this past year I was our student senator for the faculty of arts, while serving in this position, I ran and was elected to the executive committee of the Senate. So, that is a body that basically reviews the requests made to the Senate. I’m also a member of the faculty of arts council, the UOSU appeals committee. 


F: How will you work on making the student situation better during COVID-19?

CS: Everyone knows that this year has been extremely difficult, particularly for students and my goal is to continue to make the progress that we’ve made this year. I look forward to working with the elected student leaders to continue moving that forward, although we might not be in person it’s important to create that sense of community and transparency

F: What often gets overlooked for your faculty?

CS: I think something that might be overlooked is filling student seats on university committees. Although there are opportunities for student involvement, I often think that students are not aware of these opportunities because there aren’t there isn’t someone to facilitate the bridge between bringing students into these roles. That’s one of my goals for this year is to fill students on university committees because every year numerous seats are vacant.

F: Can you explain in your words what is the mandate for the role you are attempting to be elected to?

CS: The Senate overlooks primarily academic laws and regulations, the creation and modification of programs. So, the Senate truly is the academic part and policy side of the university and it’s important that our role is to represent the student voice in our faculty. When I go to the table to have these important discussions with the university administration, it’s the student opinion. It’s important that we’re considered in these academic decisions because it partially guides our pathways through university.

F: What is an area that you think the body you are running for can improve and how do you plan on helping to improve it?

CS: I think for the Senate something we can improve on is our collaboration as student leaders. We’ve done a remarkable job this year in terms of making progress, given the circumstances that we’re faced with, but I think that the student portion of the Senate could be stronger in terms of unification. When you’re sitting with administration, it’s important that students come together on common goals across faculties. It’s important that it’s not just one student senator stepping up but more of a united presence to make sure that our voices are indeed heard and indeed listened to.

F: If you’re elected, by the end of your terms what’s the one thing you would like to be remembered for?

CS: I think that one thing I want to be remembered for is my dedication, and working with and for students. I truly have a love for student advocacy and student involvement. I think that my passion is something that I’m able to share with others. This is something I’m truly passionate about. I love working in student advocacy, like I mentioned and I hope that I’m able to continue to do so, working with our student body. 

F: Why should students vote for you?

CS: I think students should vote for me because I have the experience in this role, I’m dedicated to serving the students in this role. And ultimately I believe that I could be an active contributor to the functions and the decisions happening in the Senate. I’m confident that I’ll be able to recognize the importance that we are all represented and considered in the decision making processes.