U of R students go to the (virtual) polls
This story has been edited to reflect the fact that URSU took all of the images that weren’t supplied. Between the mix of the previous words represented in the article with the clarifications, we felt it best to provide clarity with an edited version. This is also a reminder that the carillon will not be printing this week as we deal with the COVID 19 outbreak.
Below is our preview article of the election, because we have the benefit of not publishing until Thursday (online only life) we can announce that the winners were Gurjinder Singh Lehal (President), Ziyang Li (VP Student Affairs), Gurkirat Singh (VP Operations & Finance), Nifemi Adekoya (VP External Affairs).
Voting began Mar. 16, for the 2020 URSU General Elections. The process is new, a ranked ballot system replaces the older traditional version. After clicking the usual link in UR Self Service, students will be directed to https://ursu.simplyvoting.com/. From there, voters are redirected to log in with their uregina username and password to allow them access to their various constituencies over today and tomorrow. As with any election with URSU’s name on it, a number of positions have one person running unopposed. The full list of those is below, along with the respective candidates.
Faculty of Arts – Alfred Adenuga
Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research – Isaac Atayero
Faculty of Kinesiology and Health Studies – Destinni Bentz
Faculty of Nursing – Josée Pelletier
Faculty of Social Work – Selma Babini
First Nations’ University of Canada – Michael Shorting
Luther College – Kiegan Lloyd
Equity and Campaigns – Oghenerukevwe Jegede-Ikpen
Indigenous Students – Karlene Pruden
International Students – MD Abul Hossain
Students with Disabilities – Katlyn Richardson
Women Students – Uniniafore Jegede
Next comes the bit that’s a tad bit more exciting, the plebiscite to leave the Canadian Federation of Students. URSU has not been paying CFS fees for the last number of years as they haggle over how much is owed in order to leave. The hope, from URSU’s perspective, is to give the organization movement towards leaving. Note that a plebiscite is an expression of interest in leaving as opposed to the referendum required by the CFS bylaws. URSU has offered a tuition giveaway of $5,000 to one lucky person who votes in the plebiscite. We’ll leave the decisions as to whether voters think that’s ethical to the aftermath. The plebiscite, in full, is printed below as presented on the electoral ballot.
“Whereas University of Regina students collectively pay the Canadian Federation of Students over $157,000 per year in membership dues, and;
Whereas since 2016 the CFS has failed to provide any meaningful campaigns that would benefit students in Saskatchewan, and;
Whereas since 2014 the CFS Services failed to be functional or useful for members of URSU, and;
Whereas since 2012, CFS closed the CFS-Saskatchewan bank account and moved all the funds to the National Office, and;
Whereas since 2012, there has been no functional CFS-Saskatchewan component and;
Whereas the University of Regina Students’ Union has duplicated all services and campaigns work to make up for the failure of the CFS, and;
Whereas the CFS has been involved in a number of allegations of corruption including but not limited to financial mismanagement, budget deficits, interference in student union elections, and electoral fraud; and;
Whereas the CFS refused to give members any information that would disprove these allegations, and;
Whereas history has proven that there is no significant benefit to URSU being a member of CFS, and;
Whereas it is URSU that is a member of CFS and that as an individual member of URSU I am not a member of CFS as per its own bylaws, therefore;”
The voter can then choose to say whether they think they should have to pay the fees. The motion at the end reads, “I demand that none of the URSU student fees I have paid or will pay in the future be submitted to CFS and/or CFS Saskatchewan.” With an option to either go for or against.
Now to the positions where folks actually had to fight for their role. In an average year, one without a pandemic, one would normally see more campaigning than was held this year. Also different from previous years as part of the electoral reform is that candidates’ bios and headshots are available to read during voting.
For the presidential candidates, we have incumbent Victor Adeolu Oriola. His messaging, remarkably unsurprisingly focused on his record in the last year. Selected highlights of what he believe he brought you are: The spring/summer U-Pass, the myWellness program and increased supports for mental health, the creation of a new staff position for sexual health, and increased funding for students. His promises for the next year include a strategy for emergency homelessness in the student population, increasing options for open access educational resources, and creating a “Co-Curricular Records Program.”
His opponent, Gurjinder Singh Lehal, the first of what I’m calling the black curtain candidates (owing to their headshot choices), is a theatre student whose bio highlights the fact that he has “hosted non-profit dj nights in the Owl namely Dhamak Base, Frost Night as part of Welcome Week.” Lehal’s biography also highlights his experience as a comedy writer in India and his commitment to the Guru Nanak Free Kitchen – a common refrain in this election. His biography shows “alarm” for the most recent rise in tuition, but mentions no specific campaign pledges.
Now for the most hotly contested position: vice president – external relations. This race also features the only woman running for any of the positions. Nifemi Adekoya highlights her experience with on-campus clubs and as the current URSU International Student Director.
“I have served as a charity director in the Regina Engineering Student Society for a year, I was the president of PRISM Club for two years and I currently serve on the URSU Board as the International Student Director.”
There are no specific campaign pledges in her biography, other than a commitment to “…bridge the gap between students and URSU, by ensuring better communications and campaign strategies to make sure more students in the university are aware of the services the SU offers and how they can benefit from it individually or collectively as a club or society.”
Next up is Deep Patel. Patel’s promises include “…initiatives to encourage the student body to get involved on campus,” “… sponsors and donors to aid in business development and diversify revenue stream” and to “Foster new relationships with the business community here in Regina and by extension Canada.”
“My promise to the student body and the University of Regina Student’s Union, is to always be punctual, diligent, honest and hardworking to make the University an environment of fun while studying”
Having staff in the office has been an ongoing concern with this student union, having had two executives leave before the end of their term this time around, amid multiple hours violations. The only executive member to meet his hours requirements during every pay period this year was Oriola, though data is only currently available to the end of December.
The next candidate in the race to fill a position that hasn’t been full to the end of the academic year in either of the last two cycles is Krupal Patel. His campaign leans heavily on his role with a current campus group.
“…I currently stand as the President of the UofR [sic] club ‘BAPS Campus Fellowship’ and this has provided me with ample leadership experience, which will help me take important decisions with a better perspective, in an efficient way. Planning and executing events for BAPS Campus Fellowship has also rendered me with substantial experience at handling and managing vast crowds.”
Moving right along to Rajbir Singh, a graduate student who filled the same directorial role on the URSU board over the past academic year. He also mentions his volunteering at the Guru Nanak Free Kitchen and focused his bio on socialization on behalf of students.
“I would like to cast light on the various aspects of the students for the betterment of their studies and life in campus by serving the position of VP External Relations in URSU. Consequently, I love to socialize with the people of different countries, therefore, I would be grateful to be a part of the various events on campus and provide awareness-activities to improve students’ health in the university.”
The fight for the role of vice president operations & finance is a three-headed race between Gurkirat Singh, Saurav Munjapara, and Talha Babar. Singh’s bio is minimal, and leans heavily on the fact that he is in economics. He also pledges to be collaborative.
“I would respectfully work alongside the other members toward a plan for better management of operations and finance. We can harness our collective knowledge and create the best most elegant, attractive, cost effective and sound solution to all problems.”
Munjapara, on the other hand, is in chemistry, and wrote about both his high school experience and the skills he believes he possesses to get the job done.
“My accumulated knowledge and previous work experience have led me to gain skills such as leadership, teamwork, problem solving and critical thinking. I believe that these skills would be catalytic for a candidate for the mentioned position.”
Talha Babar’s headshot has a refreshing splash of colour and has nice depth of field. Oh right, his platform. Thankfully, he was one of the candidates with some clarity.
“I am also an international student, which allows me to relate with and understand the struggles of all kinds of students of all different backgrounds (finances, specifically). I am studying accounting and economics at the UofR because I plan to devote my life to understanding the complications behind making planned financial decisions that result in the greatest output. Such a mindset qualifies me to be able to manage the annual budget. I feel that it is absolutely crucial to address student mental health issues, the cost of education, the added costs associated with receiving that education through this institution and the push for more sustainable methods of day to day operations.”
The three folks running for the vice president of student affairs position are Keyur Patel, Ziyang Li, and Abhishek Suri.
Keyur Patel focused on student programs.
“I have two main goals for my work in the university board. Enough space for all student activities and support for social activities. Since, I am an international student; I needed to believe in internationalization.”
Ziyang (Zeo) Li wrote about a four-pronged plan that involves “support for student societies”, “advancing student engagement, mental health advocacy”, and “lobbying the university” to extend the grace period for students in relation to paying their tuition.
Li’s platform also includes a commitment to increase URSU board funding to students and “Host workshops and create easy to read fliers and posters that clearly explain the university’s policies for students, especially those having to do with exam deferrals and remarking.”
The last candidate for the executive is Abhishek Suri, whose platform includes no specific pledges, but does mention that he is “physically fit,” has experience as an elite athlete, and that he “want[s] to put my best efforts to help them with my skills because students are the upcoming future of the country.”
There are two options for executive of council in order to represent the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research: Isaac Atayero and Rajbir Singh. There are also nine candidates for the senate, of which six will be elected. The candidates are: Adeowuwa Adebanji, Alfred Adenuga, Imtiyaz Ahmed, MD Abul Hossain, Kiegan Lloyd, Priyanshu Modi, Victor Adeolu Oriola, Katlyn Richardson, Abhishek Suri
The RPIRG Board of Directors has eleven people vying for a spot, with seven seats available. Those candidates are: Prince Anim, Noora Ashrafi, Cara Focht, Rachel Krywulak-Burton, Nicole Lerminiaux, Asif Ali Rahman, Mehrdad Safaei, Veerasekar, Palaniappan Sambasivam, Ben Schneider, Parvin Yazdanparast, Sundus Zia
Of course, if this is all too much, a person can just abstain.