URSU election: the full roster

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author: john loeppky and kristian ferguson  | editor-in-chief and news editor

vote, vote, vote / jeremy davis 

Here is what your URSU hopefuls have to say

The biographies of the University of Regina Students’ Union electoral candidates have been released. Please note that all quotes used here appear un-edited, for reasons of transparency.

Let us begin with Davinderpal Deol, who is running for president. He highlighted his experience as an international student and business major.

“Being an International student myself and having an empathetic attitude, I understand the issues International and local students face. I would like to continue to be the voice of students at U of R and work closely to advocate for student issues and to bring solutions to them.”

Victor Oriola, also a presidential candidate, highlighted three main campaign promises centred around a campaign for a tuition freeze, a focus on the sexual violence policy, and to “combat food insecurity in the student population.”

Keone James Rohatensky’s bio focused on their previous experience in a non-profit organization.

“This school year I got elected to be on the board of directors for the UR Pride Centre. With this role, I gained experience in seeing how a board of directors runs and working with other directors to help provide what is best for the business and students as a whole.”

Harpreet Singh’s biography centred around his approach to students.            “Harpreet would work to reduce parking fees, pave the gravel parking lots at no extra cost to students, and advocate for warnings before parking tickets are issued. Students should be able to focus on their futures, not suffer from parking anxiety. Harpreet would establish the University of Regina Students Union as a living wage employer to ensure a minimum of $15/hour and call for the university to follow the lead. Better accommodations for newcomer International Students. Cut down on the fees which are not used by students that University of Regina is taking, i.e. Recreation & Athletic fee.”

Moving on to VP External Affairs, Harmandeep Singh Deol focused on his family’s background.

“I’m from a political background, my father was an ex-MLA and so I have some knowledge to handle these things. In last I just want to know that if I get elected and selected then I will not let the hopes get down.”

Hamza Sheikh wrote about his soft skills.

“I have solid interpersonal skills, with the ability to communicate with individuals at all levels. I also have strong talents in creating, writing, and producing communication pieces. My organizational skills have allowed me to prioritize schedules and consistently complete projects within challenging time and budget guidelines.”

Karminder Singh is the last candidate for external and showcased his past role in student governance.

“I have been on the Indian Student Association for the past year as Communication Director. In that time I have been able to Organize Events for Indian Students. My goal for the year is to help student in their endeavors’ hope that I will be able to fill the position of Vice-president External Affairs and make the best out of the opportunity if given the chance.”

In the running for Vice President Operations and Finance are Dakota Kaufman, Muhammad Usman Khan, Manvinderjit Singh. While Khan did not provide Kaufman focused on his past experiences.

“I feel that I have the experience that will suit this position and all it entails because I already have the experience from serving on the Board of Directors and being the Treasurer for LUSA (Luther College Students Association) for the past six years. In my time as the Treasurer for LUSA I have been through presidents that were big spenders and others that did not want to spend anything, thus giving me the ability to know how to handle funding and budgets.”

Singh was another candidate who focused on his soft skills.

“I am a team player which will be shown by my ability to carry out events within lots of enjoyment but also within the URSU budget. I will try to solve the problems of not just international student but all student who attend the UofR. I will not be making fake promises because this is not a game of politics and it for the benefits of the student of this university.”

Three candidates are contesting the Vice President of Student Affairs position: Ammad Maken, Ajit Singh, and Harmeet Singh.

Maken highlighted strategies to expand the reach of the students’ union.

“[I want] To better engage students, I plan to increase social media presence through new marketing research roles, as well as having representatives visit more classes. I would also like to create a role dedicated to collecting feedback from students.”

Ajit Singh, also brought forward his personal assets.

“Under My leadership, organization, problem solving, and critical thinking skills. I believe that these Skills will make me a valuable representative who will contribute to the overall success of the University of Regina Students Union.”

Harmeet Singh wrote generally about his experience.

“The main motive behind this position is to increase the strength of University students. Being a student I know most of the problems of students in various parts of University. Such as problems related to study, living, advocacy and mentally pressure.”

A number of the constituency races have more than one candidate. Arts has Alfred Adenuga against Gurkirat Singh Uppal. The Faculty of Engineering position is being contested by Pranav Mukesh and Tanaya Sharma. The Faculty of Graduate Studies seat is between Akshyata, Kishore Kumar Reddy Bommvaram, Venkata Sai Kumar Pulimi. The Faculty of Science could see one of three people represent them: Yeasin Arafat, Jared Price, Arshdeep Singh Simk. The newly-created constituency of equity and campaigns will either be filled by Jacq Brasseur or Sukhveer Garcha. International students could be represented by Adekoya Oluwanifomo,   Harshdeep Singh Binner, or Yadwinder Singh Deol. Students with disabilities director is being contested by Sukhmandeep Kaur, Katlyn Richardson, and Gurpreet Singh. The women’s students’ director will be filled by either Simran Simran or Amandeep Kaur.

The following people have run unopposed: Amit Kumar Bansal (Business), Harkaran Singh Rai (Campion), Davinder Singh (Continuing Education), Rylan Jensen (Education), Barzany Ridha (Kinesiology), Manjot Singh (Media, Art, and Performance), Mark Matthies (Nursing), Timothy Merasty (FNUC), Zoey Yanush (Luther), and Jagmandeep Tejay (Part-time students).

The positions dedicated to those in social work, La Cité, and Indigenous students will be sent to bi-elections in the fall, as no candidates were available.

The University of Regina Students’ Union (URSU) All Candidate’s Forum took place on Mar. 11 and provided an opportunity for the voting body of URSU to talk to, question, and hear from the electoral candidates.

Starting at 4 p.m., the forum began with acknowledgement that any student who was running for an unopposed board of directors position did not have to attend the forum, but could take the time to speak if they chose. None of the unopposed candidates chose to speak or were in attendance.

First to speak were the candidates for the Faculty of Arts Director. Although two candidates were running, only Alfred Adenuga was in attendance to speak. Gurkirat Singh Uppal was not in attendance without advance notice.

Adenuga reiterated on his campaign platform to “engage with other Arts students to foster an environment that breeds critical thinkers, influential creative, and collaborative leaders.”

Next would have been the Faculty of Engineering Director candidates, however, both Pranav Mukesh and Tanaya Sharma did not show. There was no known reason provided for their absence.

Women Students Director was the next position and of the two candidates, Simran Simran and Amandeep Kaur, only Kaur was in attendance.

Kaur discussed issues facing women at the university and that they often don’t report harassment and other issues. Kaur also pushed for a “politics-free university.”

Next was the Equity and Campaigns Director in which Jacq Brasseur and Sukhveer Garcha are both candidates. However, Brasseur was the only candidate in attendance.

Brasseur stressed the importance of this new position.

“Marginalized student voices aren’t being heard or cared about.”

They further went on to elaborate how “as a domestic student, international students subsidize my tuition,” and how they found that unacceptable and unsustainable.

International Student Director saw two of its three candidates talk to students.

Adekoya Oluwanifemi was first to speak, stressing that she wanted to “be a voice for international students.”

Harshdeep Singh Binner discussed how there is a “political impact” in regard to high international student tuition.

Yadwinder Singh Deol was not in attendance to talk about their platform.

Students with Disabilities Director candidates were next to speak, but only Katlyn Richardson was in attendance.

Richardson discussed how they felt that students with disabilities are finding that “there is only care for us on someone else’s schedule,” and that the previous director “did not change anything,” and “just talked over disabled students.”

The Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research Director position had zero of the three candidates in attendance. Akshyata, Kishore Kumar Reddy Bommvaram, and Venkata Sai Kumar Pulimi were all unaccounted for.

Similarly, all three running for Faculty of Science Director were not in attendance. Yeasin Arafatm, Jared Price, and Arshdeep Singh Simk did not come to the forum to petition to students.

The forum then moved on to the executive positions where, to the concern of the audience, none of the candidates running for the Vice-President External Affairs position were in attendance.

Laughs and murmuring were heard as none of the candidates for an executive position, arguably some of the highest profile and most important positions, decided to not attend. Harman Deol and Karminder Singh did not provide reasons but, based on the information URSU provided, Hamza Sheikh provided advanced notice.

The next executive position was Vice-President Operations and Finance in which only Dakota Kaufman was in attendance. Muhammad Usman Khan and Manvinderjit Singh were not present; however, Khan provided advanced notice.

Kaufman was asked if they would create a budget that accounted directly for student input on where the money should go. Kaufman gladly stated that they “would be very happy to help students in any way.”

Kaufman was also asked where they would prioritize budget spending and where URSU currently spends too much.

Kaufman was unsure, stating, “I’d have to have a better look at the budget,” but that they would “love to increase funding for student advocacy or student enabling projects.”

Next was Vice President Student Affairs where only Harmeet Singh was in attendance. Ajit Singh was unaccounted for, but Ammad Maken provided notice that they would not be in attendance.

Harmeet Singh was asked multiple questions about Campus Vibe, the current system used to organize, ratify, and renew student groups. A number of students have voiced it is hard to use or hard to get students to join clubs because of it.

Singh stressed that the issue lied in how “students aren’t aware of how to join.” However, “If the team wants to make a change, I will be involved in helping.”

When asked what made Singh different from the other two candidates, a member of the audience yelled out “at least he is here!”

Singh responded by saying, “I am always ready to help,” and that “we should help each other.”

The final position at the forum was for president, in which only Harpreet Singh was not in attendance, but had provided advanced notice.

The other three candidates are Davinderpal Deol, Victor Adeolu Oriola, and Keone James Rohantensky.

Each candidate provided a short speech before answering questions. Deol was first to the podium in which they stated, “I am a friendly, humble, approachable person,” and that “I plan to hold URSU to a high standard,” and, finally, that they “have experience sitting on local committees that make me feel I am best suited to be elected president.”

Rohatensky was next up and stated how they have been “actively involved with the university for a few years now,” in regard to a multitude of clubs and organizations that they are a part of including being a board member for URPride.

Rohatensky further stated, “Wellness, safety, and accessibility are my three main goals.”

It was then Oriola’s turn at the podium where they started with a commendation of everyone who spoke prior.

Oriola stated, “It is very important we have students who care about the future of their student union. Students are apathetic about their university and apathy is dangerous.”

A major topic during question period was the issue of a tuition freeze, something that URSU is currently petitioning for, and where the candidates stood in regards to it.

Deol focused on the high tuitions that international students face and that they would “try my best to help reduce that stress.”

Oriola was upset that students had to go without because of high tuition costs and wanted more information about the freeze.

“I want there to be information in every building about a tuition freeze,” said Oriola.

Rohatensky looked to precedent in order to further the freeze.

“A tuition freeze is possible; it happened in 2008. I want to look back on what made that possible,” said Rohatensky.

A student asked what the presidential candidate’s priorities are and where they wanted to place their focus.

Deol was quick to the point.

“My priorities are to help students,” said Deol. “I want to help students who are struggling.”

Oriola reiterated on a point they made earlier in the forum.

“My immediate issue is with tuition,”

“It is an issue that should be elevated from a university level to a governmental level.”

Rohatensky stated that they “want to apply for more funding for our successful programs.”

They also restated one of their campaign promises in which they want to “work with URPride to make more gender-neutral-accessible washrooms.”

In total, of all of the positions in which it was expected that candidates would attend the forum, 11 of 33 were in attendance. In other words, one-third of the candidates appeared in order to discuss their platform with students. Thirty-three per cent of the candidates made the time for their student body and potential voters.

The full live stream of the forum can be found on URSU’s Facebook page.

 

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