By-elections aim to fill 16 empty seats
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) by-election will take place from Nov. 9 to Nov. 11 via online voting. Here are the candidates running for their faculties’ empty Board of Directors (BOD) seats.
The Fulcrum interviewed candidates on their platform, experience and motive for running. When a candidate was not available, their appropriate UOSU description was listed.
Faculty of social sciences (one vacant seat)
The student who will receive the majority of the votes from his peers will be elected as the fourth BOD member for the faculty of social sciences joining Zaina Abusayma, Henry Mann and Serge Patenaude on the BOD.
Gershon Tsirulnikov is a fourth-year political science student at the University of Ottawa. Tsirulnikov decided to run for the position because he wanted to take a more active role in working to create a campus that students deserve, he plans with BOD members on holding the university accountable over matters that directly impact students.
He has experience volunteering for the International Political and Policy Studies Student Association (IPPSA), served as a bilingualism director for a campus organization, and participated in marches and protests that were either partly or fully organized by U of O students.
Tsirulnikov hopes that if he is elected he will take the confidence given to him by students and translate it into tangible outcomes that the campus needs. He hopes that he can improve several aspects of student life on campus through the work of UOSU.
Dawoud Najmudin is a first-year international studies and modern languages student at the University of Ottawa. Najmudin decided to run for the BOD because he wants to represent his faculty at the university level so that there is a greater positive and transformative impact.
Najmudin has been involved with student politics throughout high school and has worked with federal political agencies, such as Elections Canada, Student Vote and the federal Liberal Party. He believes his experiences make him an excellent candidate for this position.
If elected, he would like to strengthen the U of O’s mental health services, better communicate with the student body, and provide easier access to academic services. Additionally, he would like to ensure within UOSU that operations are more transparent and equitable. He would also like to further organize and standardize the election system to make it easier for newer students to run for positions. He also hopes to ensure equity on and off campus, as well as the UOSU representing the student body with transparency.
Telfer School of Management (two vacant seats)
There are three candidates for two vacant Telfer School of Management seats. The two candidates that receive the highest amount of votes will represent Telfer along with current BOD member, Tian Kun Chen.
Maxime Chouinard is a third-year finance student at the University of Ottawa. He decided to run due to the fact that two of the Telfer seats on the board have been vacant since the last election and he believes that Telfer students deserve to be represented by someone who has their best interests at heart.
He believes that his experience as a bilingual student in Telfer will help him represent both English and French speaking students. He has vast experience in administration and government. He also has involvement in Telfer clubs, such as the TFS Investment group which he believes will help him stay close to Telfer students.
He hopes to represent Telfer students to the best of his ability and promote the ‘francophonie’ on campus, seek better funding for the University’s mental health services, fight for improvements to campus safety, and champion financial responsibility within the UOSU.
Zachariah Downey is a third-year commerce student at the University of Ottawa. He felt that due to the pandemic and subsequent mandated restrictions, he had an inherent responsibility to his fellow students to ensure that they have every available resource to alleviate the impact of COVID-19.
Downey has experience serving on several different boards: he held a position as a founding board member of a local charity and currently holds a position as a member on the Program Advisory Board for Conestoga College. He believes his experiences and insight will help him be a well-prepared board member of UOSU.
Downey hopes to represent Telfer students and improve the availability of services to help alleviate the financial, health (mental/emotional/physical), and academic burdens that students are experiencing. This may require enhancing services currently offered, or assessing if those services’ resources could be better used and allocated elsewhere.
Jean-Simon Lavoie-Albert is a third-year finance student at the University of Ottawa. He felt inclined to run because he felt as though the faculty is often unaware of what is going on during discussions with UOSU. He hopes to change that and keep students informed about what is happening and make sure their voices are heard.
Lavoie-Albert has experience as a treasurer and business analyst which he believes will allow him to conduct thorough analysis of UOSU’s current financial and pinpoint where changes should be made. He also feels that his experience as a teaching assistant has allowed him to prepare his listening skills. He hopes to listen to the students and ensure their voices are heard.
Lavoie-Albert hopes to establish a relationship of trust with Telfer students. He hopes to maximize their university experience by allowing them to benefit from a maximum amount of resources. He hopes to ensure full transparency between UOSU and Telfer students since they are entrusting the union with their money.
Faculty of engineering (three vacant seats)
There are four candidates for three vacant positions, the three candidates that receive the highest amount of votes from their peers will represent them on the BOD.
Julian Ward is a third-year civil engineering and computing technology student at the University of Ottawa. One of his first experiences with student government came when he received an email from the University the summer before his first year explaining that the University was taking control of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) finances because there were allegations of misconduct. While the organization no longer exists, he wants to “make sure that never happens again.” Additionally, after “the seemingly nonstop onslaught of bad news coming out of the U of O,” he aims to do his part to ensure those in power are being responsible.
In terms of experience, Ward is in his second-year serving on the Engineering Students’ Society’s Board of Directors (ESS) as a representative. In the past two years, he has also been an executive of the University of Ottawa’s chapter of the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering and commissioner of Shinerama for ESS’s 101-Week. He says these experiences “have given him the know-how to hold student groups accountable at BOD meetings and he knows what’s expected of the execs.”
Overall, he wants to hold the student union accountable for their actions (and inactions).
“I think they’ve done a lot of great work (like with the Student Rights Centre), but we cannot let them get sloppy.”
Ibrahim Chohan is a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Ottawa. His motivation for running is to “make sure that the student union remains committed to student issues throughout the pandemic.” He said he understands that it is tough to continue to operate during the current situation, but right now is when students really need as much support as they can get.
Since first-year, he has been involved in extracurricular activities and believes the experience “is something that will help make lasting change.” As a student, he knows what students go through and understands their passion. In turn, he said it enables him”to understand what tangible decisions could improve student life.”
In terms of achievement, he hopes to develop the relationship between the engineering students and the UOSU and increase transparency and direct support of engineering students.
“As of right now, all decisions made by the union are directed through a series of student federations, which is all good and fine, but it makes engineering students less invested in the decisions the board makes.”
Additionally, he believes that “by focusing on affecting more students more significantly – while holding town halls and recording meetings for transparency – the student community will actually have a reason to care.”
Chloé Richard is a fourth-year chemical engineering student with an option in engineering management and entrepreneurship at the University of Ottawa. She believes that “ever since the beginning of the pandemic and recent incidents at the University, the importance of a strong, reliable student union has never been greater.” While the UOSU maintains itself as a young student union, she believes “it has great potential to grow and adapt its services to our current virtual situation.”
In terms of experience, Richard spent two years as Community Advisor (CA) in housing referencing it as an “awesome experience.” During her second year in the position, she lived on the STEM-based floor which allowed her “to have a broader perspective on the primary issues and priorities of folks in STEM.” Additionally, she says she has “always tried to stay involved throughout [her] undergrad, whether it be as an executive member of the Indigenous Ally Network club, or as a Floor-Rep in first year residence.”
If elected, she hopes to create opportunities for students to give their input to the UOSU and “bridge the gap between the students of the faculty of engineering and the union.” Hosting monthly feedback-driven virtual meetings is one thing she would like to implement for students.
She believes this would give them an opportunity to ask any questions they may have about the UOSU and their services. As a final message, she encourages all U of O students to “hang in there” during a tough year.
Jasmin Cartier (The following profile is the one submitted to the UOSU BOD election website)
I am a first-year student in mechanical and computer engineering.
I have been heavily involved in my high school and in national student groups as an environmental activist. I have also worked a few times with Oxfam-Québec. You will guess that the environment is close to my heart.
The fight against climate change is, in my opinion, a fight that must be intersectional. This means that we must consider that the people most affected by these issues are the least privileged. Social justice is therefore the priority, in my opinion.
A university community like ours must recognize its privileges and use them as a lever to make a difference within its community, but also outside of it.
My biggest regret when I became involved in my high school is that I did not get involved earlier. So here I am! In my first year with the UOSU, I plan to learn as much as I can about how the system works to represent our faculty and your concerns to the best of my ability.
Faculty of law – common law section (one vacant seat)
Michelle Liu is running unopposed for the vacant seat meaning common law students will be asked to approve or reject her candidature.
Michelle Liu is a student in the common law program at the University of Ottawa. As a queer woman of colour, she believes she brings an intersectional perspective “that is often under – or unrepresented at decision-making tables.” After experiencing discrimination in her previous career as a construction engineer, she has become “a tireless advocate for equity and inclusion [and hopes to bring her] passion for advocacy to UOSU.”
Liu has over seven years of experience in post-secondary student governance, including “two presidencies, five directorships, three advisory council/committee seats, and two board memberships.” At the moment, she acts as the vice-president of communications for OUTLaw 2SLGBTQ+ Law Students Association, as a member of the Common Law Student Society, and is also a member of the Faculty Council, the common law section’s highest governing body. She believes her experience serving on various university committees makes her “a good fit for this position.”
In the past, she has “advised and voted on student services expenditure, equity and mental health objectives in strategic planning, accessibility modifications to campus infrastructure, appeal and petition processes, adjustment of graduate stipend based on university revenue, exceptions to degree requirements, and more.”
In terms of achievements, she wants to “help create a safer space for equity-seeking students at U of O by contributing to the ongoing momentum in the fight against racism.”
Faculty of law – civil law section (one vacant seat)
This is a traditional election whoever can convince the most civil law students to vote for them will represent the faculty on the BOD.
Nickolas Eburne is a third-year civil law student at the University of Ottawa. He was convinced to run following UOSU’s response to the ‘N-word’ incident involving professor Verushka Lieutenant-Duval. In particular, he says he was “inspired” by the way the “UOSU was not scared to act as an activist body” following the incident.
Eburne is one of the co-founders of uOCollective 4 Mental Health, which was created in response to the six student deaths at the University during the 2019-20 academic year and which “actively pressured the administration for more funding.” The collective has since been dissolved.
He believes he “can make a difference notably in mental health support” if elected. He is currently the editor-in-chief of the Civil Law Journal. He says that being a law student “he will know how to draft proper motions” which will “help UOSU.”
His “first goal” will be to put forward “a motion stating the need for more mental health support especially for law students and for civil law students.” According to him, “law students have a generally lower mental health through their studies, and the common law section has a mental health counsellor while the civil law section does not.” That will be his “first priority.”
Sarah Varin is a second-year civil law student at the University of Ottawa. She decided to run to push for “reforms in terms of equity and use of UOSU resources.” Varin aims to make campus inclusive for every student so they can “feel proud of their University,” which she believes is “not the case right now.”
Varin describes herself as a fighter; she has been a human rights activist and has never been afraid to stand up for her beliefs such as opposing the patriarchy. She holds a social sciences degree which she believes helps her understand the “complexity of human beings and their needs in society.” In terms of competences, Varin says she “excels at finances and has an innovative mindset.”
She aims to join the BOD’s Finance Committee to revisit the budget. Offering “more services more efficiently” will be her “main goal” on the Finance Committee. Transparency and accountability are also important to Varin, she plans on consulting with law students before making decisions and informing them of the reasons behind her decisions via “short videos” if elected.
Faculty of sciences (two vacant seats)
With two candidates for two vacant seats, faculty of sciences students will be asked to vote yes or no for the election of both candidates to the BOD.
Prabasha Rasaputra is a second-year biomedical student at the University of Ottawa. He is running because he believes that with the pandemic student’s voices aren’t being fully acknowledged by the BOD. He “thinks” that he “can be part of a meaningful change for the students” in his faculty.
In terms of experience, Rasaputra says he has been a part of the executive committee of a “few clubs” in high school and at the University which has helped him gain experience in “creating events and making sure the needs of large groups of people are met.”
If elected, his goals are to create some “actual change” with how resources and services are offered by the UOSU, he aims to make them “more accessible and available to everyone.” Mental health is something that is very “important” to him, he says due to the pandemic “many students are struggling with theirs, so services for mental health is something I will heavily be focused on.”
Tarasha Sharma is a third-year biopharmaceutical science student specializing in medicinal chemistry at the University of Ottawa. She decided to run to create a campus “environment that enriches science students and allows them to flourish.”
In the past, Sharma has been a Welcome Week guide and the biopharm department representative for the Science Student Association (SSA). She says she is enthusiastic about the role and believes her previous experience in leadership roles notably with the SSA where she organized events will help her if elected to the BOD.
She wants to be “an active voice for students” on the BOD and “make sure their feedback and opinions influence the direction of decisions.” Sharma will host regular Instagram Live sessions to get feedback from students and aim to “create an online program that connects students looking for research experience or honours projects with profs.” This according to her will “ensure that significant networking opportunities are not neglected during online school” with professors. Finally, she wants to “minimize the many barriers of online school by making sure resources can be easily accessed.”