With issues from transparency to debt, votes cast in this election could make or break the future of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO)
The 2017 SFUO general election has 10 candidates vying for the six positions at the highest level of student governance at the U of O. For the candidates’ full platforms, please visit the SFUO website.
Francesco Caruso is in his third year of political science and communications at the U of O and is running to be the next SFUO president because he wants to change the direction of the federation.
Caruso currently has three years of experience in student politics, has served on the Board of Administration (BOA), has been involved with several clubs on campus, and is currently the vice-president of services and communications for the SFUO.
If elected, Caruso plans on making information more easily accessible to students, and he believes that his experience working with the federation will help him effectively execute this task. Caruso also hopes to implement online voting for SFUO elections, to increase voter turnout to 15 per cent.
Caruso believes that the federation should be there to listen to students.
“The SFUO is a valuable tool,” he says. “It’s a shame students don’t see that. But if students don’t see the work of the SFUO then it’s up to the SFUO to make more of an effort.”
“It’s the federation that should show the students what it’s worth.”
Hadi Wess is in his final year of a major in psychology, with a double-minor in French and Italian. Wess is running for president because he hopes to continue serving on the SFUO to make it a better place long after he leaves.
Wess is in his second term as vice-president social for the SFUO, and has been part of 23 clubs on campus. According to Wess, this involvement has helped him develop the leadership skills he will need as president.
Wess’ main goal as president is to advocate for the development of a student building—a building run by students, with study and lounge space, rooms for clubs to thrive, and multi-faith rooms. He also plans on making the SFUO more accessible from the south end of the main campus, as well as the Lees and Roger Guindon campuses, and hopes to create an accommodation policy.
If elected, Wess hopes to host monthly meetings between the SFUO executive and students, where students can bring up their concerns.
“It’s about understanding what are the needs and demands of the student population … it’s about communicating with the students,” says Wess, who hopes that these meetings will improve issues of transparency with the federation.
“Transparency is when you promise the students something and you deliver, and you show students everything they wish to see.”
Vice-president of university affairs
Jeffry Colin, who is in the fifth year of his biotechnology degree, says his years on campus have led him to become familiar with campus and its services, and evaluate which areas need improvement.
Colin currently sits on the SFUO’s BOA as a representative for the Faculty of Engineering, and is also part of the federation’s constitutional and policy and bylaw committees. He believes that this experience will serve him well should he be elected.
“I’d like to see our federation be more efficient in the long-term,” says Colin, who, if elected, plans on improving U-Pass distribution, bringing more funding into campaigns, collaborating with students on the university Senate, and implementing online voting.
Axel Ngamije Gaga
Axel Ngamije Gaga is a fifth-year biology student and is running to be the next vice-president of university affairs because he wants to get more involved on campus and leave a mark before he graduates.
Ngamije Gaga’s goal is to remove extra fees on late tuition and address lengthy wait times for the U-Pass by reorganizing the current distribution method and making it more accessible from all areas of campus.
According to Ngamije Gaga, his experience working in the government as a junior policy analyst, drafting policies and negotiating with his colleagues, has given him vital skills necessary for this position on the federation.
“Students need someone reliable and honest, and someone who’s flexible to have a sense of negotiation,” says Ngamije Gaga, who believes that it’s important to move the SFUO forward through small wins. “I know that everyone has huge expectations, they want the big win, (but) we need to find a way to get small wins and make sure that overall we are moving forward.”
Vice-president of finance
Rizki Rachiq is a fourth-year economics student at the U of O and is rerunning for the position of vice-president of finance. According to Rachiq, his past eight months in the position have allowed him to learn the ins and outs of it, and complete tasks despite the SFUO’s current financial situation.
“I just want (students) to know that I’ll be working with them to bring back the advantages they used to have,” says Rachiq, who explains that all the work that he has done this past school year has been in preparation for the upcoming year.
If re-elected, Rachiq hopes to bring back subsidies for clubs and fill positions in services and businesses that are currently understaffed. Rachiq also hopes to work closely with Café Alt and 1848 to help them bring more money into the federation, and he plans on continuing face-to-face consultation with students to better meet their needs.
Tanner Tallon, who is currently in his fourth-year of an accounting degree, believes that both his education and work experience make him the right candidate for the position of vice-president of finance.
Having completed co-op terms as a financial assistant at the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, as well as in contract management for external auditors for Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada, Tallon hopes to bring the skills acquired in these work placements to the position, if elected.
Tallon currently serves as the comptroller general for the SFUO, where he audits the finances of both the executive and federated bodies on campus. He believes that this experience has allowed him to hold the executive accountable in a unique way.
If elected, Tallon plans on implementing a $15 minimum wage for all SFUO employees, as well as reimplementing a three-tiered clubs funding system. He also hopes to host outdoor parties on Sundays for students and members of the community, as a way to bring funds back into the federation.
“If students want change in the SFUO that better represents them then I think I’m the candidate to implement that change,” says Tallon.
Jonathan Chin-Fook is a fifth-year political science student running unopposed for the position of vice-president social.
He believes that his experience as a volunteer and employee for the SFUO, as well as through leadership positions (notably, vice-president social for the Economics Students’ Association) will serve him well if elected.
Chin-Fook hopes to bolster student participation at SFUO events, notably through the use of a “passport,” where students will receive coupons for every event they attend. He also hopes to use this increased student participation to help campus businesses such as 1848 thrive.
If elected, Chin-Fook also plans on implementing leadership conferences for students to develop the skills that they will need to succeed in life after university. He also plans on working more closely with federated bodies, and hopes to increase French events and bilingualism within the SFUO overall.
“I’m here for (students),” says Chin-Fook, noting that his efforts as a volunteer or employee have always been to harmonize campus life, and he hopes to build bridges between everyone at the U of O.
Diyyinah Jamora is a fourth-year student in political science and communications, and believes that her experience with clubs makes her the ideal candidate for vice-president equity.
Having founded the field hockey club in her first-year at the U of O, and having been part of other clubs and associations on campus, Jamora says she’s been able to engage with diverse groups of students and hear their concerns.
Jamora says she puts “110 per cent” into all the work she does, and if elected, she hopes to update and improve the clubs website, as well as build a stronger U of O community and make campus more accessible. Some examples of this increased accessibility include organizing events that display the multiculturalism on campus.
According to Jamora, her own experiences of discrimination, along with learning about oppression and the need for intersectionality in university, have allowed her to come to value the importance of equity, and if elected she hopes to use her ideas and qualifications to improve life on campus for all students.
Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi is a fourth-year student in international development and globalization, and is running for the position of vice-president equity because she sees the value in “fighting for what you believe in and fighting for students’ needs.”
Moumouni-Tchouassi is in her second term as the vice-president of philanthropy for the Development Students’ Association, and says that this experience, along with being active on campus and in the city since her first year, has allowed her to hear the personal stories of a diverse group of students.
If elected, she hopes to work with the vice-president of finance to bring back clubs funding, as well as shift all club registration online. She also hopes to implement free menstrual products on campus, as well as an “Equity Week” and more equity-based events throughout the year for students to more fully engage in activist work.
Moumouni-Tchouassi hopes students will know what she “wants to make campus theirs,” and that if elected, everything she does will be guided by students’ needs.
Vice-president of services and communications
Kathryn LeBlanc is a fifth-year translation student and is running unopposed for the position of vice-president of services and communications.
She currently works at the SFUO Food Bank where she “overhauled their communications strategy,” and also managed the U of O’s English Debating Society where she ran their communications work. Aside from this, LeBlanc has worked at the SFUO’s Bilingualism Centre since 2016 and has worked in communications and services for non-profits for several years.
LeBlanc believes that this experience will be crucial in running the communications of the federation, as well as their services. As part of her platform, she hopes to implement online voting for SFUO elections to increase voter turnout, as well as hold monthly consultations on communications with clubs and federated bodies to better market their events.
LeBlanc also plans on improving mental health services on campus, namely through training for SFUO employees.
LeBlanc says that as her time on campus has been split between the federation and outside of it, her approach to the position is “not entirely SFUO-specific.” She believes that she is a good candidate for those who aren’t familiar with the federation but hope to learn more about it.
Voting will take place Feb. 8-10 at polling stations across campus.