The four executive candidates are running uncontested
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU) will open voting in their first election on April 3. Many positions are running uncontested and seats will be left unfilled on both the executive and Board of Directors.
The winners of this election will be responsible for navigating the establishment of the UOSU, the handover of student services from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO), and the financial pressures of Doug Ford’s Student Choice Initiative (SCI).
The Fulcrum asked executive candidates what their vision for the union looks like, and how they will deal with the problems facing students at the University of Ottawa.
Sam Schroeder — Candidate for Advocacy Commissioner
Sam Schroeder has been been involved in student politics since he started his undergraduate degree in history and political science, four years ago. He ran for the SFUO’s Board of Administration (BOA) in both his first and third year where he campaigned for transparency and accountability. For Schroeder, these things make up a huge part of his current campaign as well.
“It takes a culture of change,” he says.
“Executives and board members should be open to criticism and they should be willing to use it constructively. Whether the criticism comes from student media, students at a General Assembly, or social media, elected officials should take it seriously,” he explains.
“The second step is about concrete changes to governance. For example, one thing I would like to use is a checklist of all executive responsibilities that would have to be presented to the Board of Directors at the end of each month.”
Schroeder has also served as the History Students’ Association’s vice-president of finance and the Student Association for the Faculty of Arts’ vice-president of university affairs.
“I decided to run (in the UOSU election) because I believe that having this new union gives us the opportunity to create the kind of union that students deserve,” he told the Fulcrum.
In terms of tackling the SCI, Schroeder believes the union’s focus should be “solutions based.”
“We need to focus on being constructive. By having a good relationship with the university, we can make sure that we have their support in all aspects of our advocacy work,” he said.
One thing he suggests, is partnering with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance for their advocacy work.
Schroeder’s campaign focuses on building the union from the ground up, and maintaining “crucial” student services.
When asked what issue is most important to students, Schroeder offered mental health services as something he’s noticed students wanting more of.
“I intend to work hard lobbying the university for more services. It is unacceptable that students have to wait months before they have access to the help that they deserve,” he said.
Natasha-Lyne Roy — Candidate for Francophone Affairs Commissioner
While Natasha-Lyne Roy, a third-year student in psychology and linguistics does not have previous experience in student politics, she is running in the UOSU election in order to “contribute in an organization that prioritizes the well-being of all students above all.”
As part of her platform, Roy’s focus is on transparency and access to information, stating that her goal is to facilitate access to information in both official languages.
“I want to keep the students informed about the process of establishing politics of the UOSU and leave room for students to voice their opinion. It is essential to include student opinion in decision-making and I want to give back the power to the students.”
She plans to do this at a provincial level as well, by asking for meetings with elected officials and participating in consultations.
For Roy, “it is important that students participate in the decisions made by the government.”
As candidate for Francophone Affairs Commissioner, Roy says her objectives are to “ensure that services and programs are bilingual and that the information provided to students is written first in French and then in English by following the example of the university.”
Jason Seguya — Candidate for Student Life Commissioner
Jason Seguya is the candidate for student life commissioner and a mathematics student at the U of O. In the world of student politics at the U of O, Seguya was the first-year representative for the Telfer Student Council and was the promotions officer for the SFUO this academic year.
“When it was announced that the agreement with the federation and the university would
be terminated I immediately got to work, given that this would mean the closure of student services,” Seguya says.
Outside of student politics at the U of O, Seguya was president of his high school’s student council and was on the Minister’s Student Advisory Council (MSAC) where he pushed for financial literacy to be included in the curriculum and developed initiatives to bring representation to marginalized students. Seguya was also a youth facilitator for the Ontario Educational Leadership Office.
Seguya says he plans to improve transparency and accountability for the student body by continuing to use his campaign Facebook page, if elected, as a platform to provide updates to students on his work.
“This upcoming year will be a unique year for our student representation, as we will be able to reconstruct systems which will be used for years to come,” he says. “I want to ensure that as many students as possible can participate in this conversation.”
Seguya says he plans to emphasize informative events and panels on the provincial government’s upcoming changes to post-secondary education, along with lobbying the government and collaborating with other student unions. But Seguya is also blunt about the potential impacts of the government’s changes at the U of O.
“It is becoming more apparent that each of the things under the mandate of the Student Life Commissioner will be deemed as non-essential fees,” he says, highlighting the need to inform students of what services exist. “Over the course of this upcoming school year, a lot of work will be put towards seeking sponsorships for events and initiatives as well as seeking grants.”
When it comes to 101 week, Seguya wants to make equity and philanthropic events mandatory, improve training, reintroduce the safety ambassador program and create guidelines and expectations for event participators.
“Although 101 week is an event that is supposed to be entirely bilingual, it so happens
that a lot of the events end up running in English,” Seguya says, highlighting plans to develop French flagship events.
Seguya also wants to establish a club office with workshops on how to create and run a club. He wants to organize similar workshops where representatives from federated bodies and the UOSU can educate students on the inner workings of student politics, targeting younger audiences specifically.
For Seguya, the most prominent issue facing students at the U of O is the unequal balance between school, work, and wellness.
“The mental health of many students on our campus is quickly deteriorating without even realizing it,” he says. “This is one of the major reasons why a lot of my events this year will be targeted to addressing student wellness.”
Rony Fotsing, Candidate for Operations Commissioner, did not respond to the Fulcrum’s interview requests in time for publication.
The University of Ottawa Students’ Union election and student services referendum will take place online from April 3 to April 5. Students will receive a link to cast their vote at their University of Ottawa email addresses.
For a full list of candidates, visit the UOSU’s website.