News

A new school year means new executive members of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) and the Graduate Students’ Association (GSAÉD). The Fulcrum sat down with the new executives to give you a look at who will be in charge at the SFUO and GSAÉD this year.

Andrew Ikeman and Ali Schwabe | Fulcrum Staff

photos by Kyle Hansford and Andrew Ikeman

GSAÉD
Taiva Tegler–external commissioner

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Tegler: I’m focusing more inward this year and looking at the campus and what kinds of resources are there for graduate students; so I’m really happy to work on two campaigns specifically. One is around mental health awareness and the other one is around childcare. With those two campaigns, I’d like to highlight what resources are available [and] then look at where we’re lacking­­­—where there are gaps in services for students. We’ve got an upwards of three-year waiting list for childcare on campus for example—that’s an issue. So mapping out resources, providing students with information on what exists, and then connecting that to sort of the broader understanding of barriers to accessing to education. What do students go through? There’s no average experience, so I’d like to connect that to issues of tuition fees, to issues of research funding, these types of things.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
I wish I knew a lot in my first year. I would say one huge thing I wish I knew that I did not have to live in residence. I was among a number of people that had a hard time in residence. I was really isolated, I was really lonely, and I think it’s a difficult space to live in. So one: I think maybe connecting to more resources on campus; I wish I knew more about the student services when I was in first year; and then I wish I had taken a house outside of residence.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
A lot. Without our grad house at the moment or without having Nostalgica, we have to be really creative so I’m looking forward to seeing what some of our departmental associations will do this year. I know some of them will be using 1848 as a space until the grand opening of our grad house. I’m also looking forward to academic events. We’ll be running panels around certain … copyright, around research integrity, around the rising tuition fees for graduate students. We’re also running academic writing retreats. And that’s a new project this year, so I’m really looking forward to seeing more of those happen. They’re basically a space for students to come together and to work on their writing, to skill-share, to have workshops on how to improve their writing and find better support. Those are just starting and I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll work for graduate students; I think they’re a great resource for them.

Patricia Barra de la Tremblaye–student life commissioner

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Barra de la Tremblaye: First of all, we have our grad house that is supposed to open in the second semester so we’re focusing on building, [and] having new programming for the new grad house. We’re also … doing a survey to know what students want; and we’ll try to include what comes out of that survey and also do a lot of student-focused, association-focused activities. So all of the fall semester I’ll be doing grad nights, but they’ll be organized with student associations so they’ll be really focused on student associations. [I want to] focus on what students want this year, that’s what’s important to me.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
When I first started university I didn’t know that there were so many student-run services; I didn’t know of any of the services and it just came as I got older and as I got more mature.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
Welcome Week is super big this year. We’re having a boat cruise and we haven’t had an off-campus activity for probably 20 years or more, so it’s going to be a really big event. I’m really looking forward to our boat cruise, and we’re also going to have Zumba dancers on the boat, so it’s going to be really fun.

Carolyn Greve–finance commissioner

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Greve: I hope to keep our organization in financial security, but have more transparency, so everyday students can come into our offices if they want to learn about the finances of our organization.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
For me, I wish I knew about all the services and campus life that went on, because I just came on campus, went to classes, and left. So the clubs that are run by the different centres or different organizations, I wish I had tapped into that earlier on.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
I am really looking forward to 101 Week—to just getting to know all the different graduate students from different faculties. It’s easy to make friends in your one little faculty—but to reach out, so as an arts student, to meet people in science, meet people in kinesiology, studying law, and so meet students in all the different faculties.

Brenna Quigley–university affairs commissioner

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Quigley: I’m hoping to help develop a supportive and productive research community on campus for grad students.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
I definitely wish I knew how valuable it was to get involved in student associations—how much you can get [out of it]. You are meeting a ton of great people, you are building really great skill sets, and it just enhances the learning experience as a whole.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m looking forward to our writing retreats—GSAÉD is organizing many writing retreats… Also our interdisciplinary conference will be pretty amazing this year. Coming up soon we have 101 Week—that’ll be pretty fun. And later in the year our grad house is reopening.

Caitlin Campisi–internal commissioner

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Campisi: We have a really great team of executives this year, so I am looking forward to working with my team on a lot of innovative social events that I know other people are working on. I am super looking forward to the reopening of the grad house and Nostalgica—so I guess that’s what I am hoping to accomplish this year.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
When I was in first year, everything seemed really big; everything seemed new and nerve-racking. I think I was little intimidated to get involved—so I think if I could go back, I’d tell myself not to be afraid to get involved; there is something for everyone on this campus.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
We have a really great 101 Week planned—lots of fun events. We have a boat cruise [and] a post-secondary education panel. After that, I am—like I mentioned before—super excited for the reopening of the grad house and Café Nostalgica. Being able to sit on the Nostalgica patio with a beer is what I’m looking forward to.

SFUO
Ethan Plato–president

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Plato: Our team goals for the year are to increase our participation in our student federations. That is a big thing—and it might be hard to gage—but I really want to see more people involved and engaged in our association. That’s a big goal of mine. Something that might be more tangible is that I want to get our participation in elections up more next year. There are a couple of smaller things we are working on too: we are doing a lot of different events this year, we are focusing on businesses—we want to get all of our businesses in the black. That’s something [VP Finance] Adam [Gilani] will be working on as well. There’s obviously continued advocacy that goes on; we are hoping to get some prior budget consultation with the university to hopefully preempt any tuition increases.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
I wish I hadn’t thought that things would be so simple. You know everyone thinks that they’ve got it figured out—they’ve done high school, done that hurdle—about to tackle more, and [then] you realize: every year in university you un-learn just more and more things, and the more you seem to learn about the world—or whatever field you’re studying—you realize how little you actually know.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
Well 101 Week is going to be awesome, I’m really excited for that—also really nervous. I’m really stoked for the TEDx talk that is going to be planned, because it is something I think we can do more of on campus, and bringing in different people… Also very excited for Winter Challenge—there’s going to be someone running around dressed as a Yeti, so that’ll be funny.

Anne-Marie Roy–vp communications

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Roy: I hope to have more students engaged in the student federation, and hopefully something that will come from that is higher voter turnout next year.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
Something I wish I knew in my first year would have been about the student federation actually. I wasn’t too familiar with it in my first year. I discovered the student federation in my second year, and was so impressed with what I found. I would have loved to be involved for another year.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
The events I am most looking forward to on campus this year are the Francophone Gala, coming up in November—it’s a first and it’s organized by the Bilingualism Centre—and Winter Challenge! I’m excited to see what Jozef [Spiteri] and the Yeti have in mind for the event!

Kate Hudson–vp student affairs

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Hudson: I think something that the whole executive has identified as something to work on is outreach, and to really be able to get in touch with our members and be able to represent our members to the fullest extent possible. I think more consultation, and being able to provide great services to the students.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
Lots of things! For one, I wish I knew how to get between buildings without going outside. That’s a silly one, but [I also wish I knew] how many opportunities are available on campus. That could be services, our many clubs, just being able to be involved in something that you are passionate about, and knowing what’s out there, I think that is the most important information to get out to first years.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
All of them! I think Jozef [Spiteri], our vp social, has amazing ideas. I am really excited for Winter Challenge and the Yeti. I am also really looking forward to 101 Week. This is going to be my fifth 101 Week and it’s definitely my favourite time of the year. I absolutely love it.

Jozef Spiteri–vp social

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Spiteri: Hopefully by the end of 101 Week, there will be a new standard, so there can be growth. I think 101 Week has been stagnant for the past eight years—with the number of 101ers, with the kind of events we do, with the kind of week it has become. Bringing back Winter Challenge, so that way we have a winter orientation week. Give some pride to the student bar—so bring in the atmosphere that is a student bar, here to represent the community that surrounds it. The world record [for largest dodgeball game] is also not a bad one to walk away with, but that’s still a lot of work in progress.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
That you should be involved. I remember walking in in first year, and thinking: I will not be involved; I will just do my classes and walk out of here. I wish from year one I had been involved, and made other things happen.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
So far we have 101 Week that’s on its way, the week after 101 Week, Dub FX at St. Brigid’s [Centre for Arts]. Dub Fx is an [Australian] b boy who uses loops to create music. That should be very interesting for students; check it out, it’s September 13. Then we have the infamous Retox, which is for 101ers and guides. Following into October, we have TEDx, that’s October 13. Further in the year, we have the Winter Challenge, which is from January 11 to 19, with Snow Stock being on the 19th. There’s a whole bunch of little elements I’m bringing in, including new music, new spaces, and is pop-up concerts all over campus. We also have the 6,000-person dodgeball game, which is coming ahead slowly and steadily. I am the most excited about the TEDx event. It is something I wanted to do for a very long time. I think it’ll be a very good way to showcase the university and the students.

Liz Kessler–vp university affairs

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Kessler: I’m hoping to get more people involved in campaigns through the campaigns committee and the many different organizing groups we have. I am hoping to improve the rights of students who live in residence specifically, because that is one area that has been neglected—in terms of how we can improve their situation. I am hoping to improve transit services to campus—or at least put pressure on the university to improve transit services around campus.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
I wish I had known that it is cheaper to not live in residence. I think a lot of people go into first year assuming it’s the best way to go, and I now actually realize that I would have probably saved money if I decided to live off campus. I think I was mature enough and independent enough to handle it, everyone assumes that the cheapest option is to live on campus.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
I am looking forward to 101 Week; I think it’s going to be great. Jozef has some really exciting plans.

Adam Gilani–vp finance

The Fulcrum: What do you hope to accomplish this year?
Gilani: One of the things I’d like to do over the year is make sure we improve the services that we have for students. Things that are directly related to my portfolio are the businesses. What I want to do is save students’ money. What we are doing is this year we are starting a breakfast at 1848—so it’s super cheap breakfast, around five dollars. Café Alt will have better quality coffee that’ll be around the same price. So that’s pretty much my goal this year: make sure wherever we can we save people’s money.

What is something you wish you knew in your first year?
I guess I would tell myself to get involved right from the beginning. I had a little bit of a slow start in that sense. My first year I wasn’t super involved in anything in particular, but I’d definitely tell myself to get out and go to every event possible. There are all sorts of little clubs that have events that you think “Meh, whatever,” but you can meet all sorts of really neat people.

What events on campus are you most looking forward to this year?
I’m super excited for 101 Week actually. I am really excited to be involved with the wild and stressful time that 101 Week is. There is something about the adrenaline you get during huge events like that. Even throughout the year we have a lot of cool activities planned. There’s going to be a TEDx at the University of Ottawa, and that’ll be something really different and really neat.