The Fulcrum: Why are you running?
Gilani: I am running for vp finance because I really think I have the experience and the skills necessary to fill the position. The work that vp finance does is not necessarily the most visible, but it’s nevertheless one of the more important positions.
I think the SFUO plays an important role in student life. It’s a very unifying force on campus, whether people agree with what it does or not. It’s still the centre of student activity and that’s something I definitely would like to be a part of and help improve.
What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish if you win?
My biggest thing is to run on a pragmatic platform. I want to help students save money, and better use the money the students have to give up anyway to the school and to the SFUO. To do that, I would like to improve some of the student businesses—improve Café Alt, Pivik, Agora—and take some of those businesses to the south end of campus since they are all concentrated on the north end of campus.
Sticking with the businesses, using those to give more practical uses for students, like using them to hold certification courses, such as Smart Serve or barista training—that’s one of the ways we can prioritize our resources, and not only save money, but give back to students as well.
One of the big things is transparency and accountability. Bringing [my goals] to the pragmatic side, budget consultations with all the members and groups that are particularly important to the SFUO in terms of the budget [should happen]. So with that also comes SFUO accountability.
There are SFUO bodies that are exceptionally behind in their audits and this is student money. It is money that the students have given to the SFUO and the SFUO has given to these bodies.
Do you have any on-campus experience related to your position?
The experience most closely related to this position is my experience with the Muslim Students Association. It runs very large events, and has a considerable budget. Most of that budget comes from donations and fundraising. A very small portion of that comes from the club subsidies.
It’s even more important to be transparent, [because] it’s not money students have to give, its money that students want to give. We run an Islam awareness week and it comes in at about $10,000 to $15,000, and about 80 per cent of that is donations from students. For that, it’s something that is very important to be clear and open about how it is being spent, and that is definitely something that will transfer over to vp finance.
According to the budget presented at the Board of Administration last summer, some of the SFUO businesses, like Café Alt and 1848, are not making any money. How will you ensure their profitability?
One of the things that will bring traffic to these businesses is the certification workshops, which I had in mind. When students see they are getting something from these businesses, they will identify with them better.
Promoting these businesses to the south end of campus is going to be essential. SITE [School of Information Technology and Engineering], for example, seems very far off from all the activity on campus and it is very important to reach out to the south end.
How will you make sure SFUO’s spending is not only transparent, but also accessible and easy to understand for students interested in tracking their money?
We’ve got a cool resource with the website and it has been improving year after year, and students are using it a lot more. I believe that it is important to translate numbers. Numbers can be up there; we could put a budget with nothing but numbers, but no one would know what we were talking about.
[I will be] using the online resources we have, and even print resources, like the Fulcrum and La Rotonde, by presenting infographics, translating numbers into easily manageable visual aids—have the numbers there, but also have interpretations of the numbers. So what does it actually mean? It’s important to translate it, take it out of the line items.
Give us a quote to remember you by.
I’m committed to saving students their hard-earned money.
Who are your favourite fictional hero and villain and why?
I’m a big Greek mythology guy, but I also love comic book heroes, and Wolverine is one of my favourites. You can’t mess with those claws.
For villains, I’m going to be a bit unconventional and say Gru from Despicable Me. I loved that movie.