Campaigning for the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) elections has begun, with a total of eight candidates running for five executive positions.
The voting for the elections will occur between February 7–9, with voting stations to be located at the IC Atrium, the Student Centre, and the Bladen Wing’s Tim Hortons.
Five of the eight candidates are campaigning together as the UTSConnect slate. There are 25 candidates vying for 15 available director positions — six of whom have been acclaimed.
In addition to the UTSConnect candidates, Mehrsa Ghobadi is running for President. Agrin Partovyan and Fatima Sazna Aliyar are running for Vice-President External and Vice-President Academics & University Affairs, respectively. While UTSConnect has a Facebook page up, no digital campaign material could be found for Ghobadi, Partovyan, and Aliyar.
The Varsity reached out to all executive candidates — only UTSConnect responded to requests.
Sitharsana Srithas is running as UTSConnect’s presidential candidate. Srithas currently serves as the SCSU’s Vice-President External; she helped lead the CFS’ Fight the Fees campaign on campus. In addition, she previously served as President of the UTSC Tamil Students Association.
“My experience as VP External and having efficient understanding of the day-to-day operations of the SCSU has better equipped me to take on the role of President,” Srithas said.
Srithas told The Varsity that, if elected president of the SCSU, she will be focusing on lobbying the university to create more work-study jobs and expand job offerings for students at the union. She has also committed to creating a feedback survey for students to send in suggestions and concerns for the union.
“UTSConnect came together solely because of our common drive to make the UTSC experience a better one for the students and I am confident that each one of us will put in the work to make that happen,” she stated.
Vice-President Academics & University Affairs
Christina Arayata is running with UTSConnect for Vice-President Academics & University Affairs on a platform focusing on students’ academic rights, study space, and student jobs.
“I plan to lobby the university to set a maximum five percent per day penalty for all courses as well as have students’ academic rights imbedded into every syllabus,” Arayata said in an email to The Varsity.
Additionally, Arayata plans on holding “study space forums” for students to make suggestions and give feedback on the issue.
Arayata is currently the President of Students of English Literature and Film, a departmental student association. In this position, Arayata says she organizes various events and “[lobbies] for improvements for students in the English department.”
When asked why students should vote for UTSConnect, Arayata said, “We are a great team of diverse individuals who are dedicated to see change around campus.”
This is the first year that the Vice-President Operations position will be elected rather than appointed and Deena Hassan is the only candidate on the ballot.
Uncontested executive candidates still need to be elected through a yes/no ballot, while candidates for director positions are acclaimed if unopposed.
Hassan told The Varsity that she hopes to expand SCSU services. She wants to “provide students with discounted [Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment] tickets, expand on the current food bank, and install ‘Presto Card’ loading machines on campus.”
Hassan has experience as a peer mentor at the Department of Student Life and a representative on the Health and Wellness advisory committee. She was an MC at SCSU’s orientation in the fall. Currently, Hassan sits as the Director of Psychology on the Board of Directors and runs her own startup company.
“Student [sic] should vote for my team and me because we genuinely want to be of benefit to the students,” Hassan said. “We want to create change, and be supporters as well as allies with all the students’ initiatives and clubs happening on campus.”
UTSConnect’s Vice-President External candidate Kubra Zakir pledges to address student debt. “I cannot keep quiet about our skyrocketing tuition fees,” wrote Zakir in an email. “I continue lobbying for affordable and accessible post-secondary education and with the upcoming provincial elections; there are opportunities to highlight such student concerns.”
Zakir is the current Vice-President of Events for UTSC Muslim Students’ Association (UTSC MSA). She also sits on the Council of Student Services, which she says has allowed her “to gain a lot of information on the administrative aspect of student services, and better understand the decision making processes for students here at UTSC.”
With UTSC MSA, Zakir led UTSC Charity Week 2016, raising money for orphans and needy children in Chechnya, Palestine, and Syria.
Zakir cites her organizational skills as the reason students should vote for her: “Organizing is what I do best. It’s important that when one carries this role, they have organizing experience and have a passion for bringing people together for the betterment of the student community.”
UTSConnect’s Nana Frimpong is running uncontested for Vice-President Equity. Her platform focuses on racialized and Indigenous students, and she aims to lobby the administration to implement an equity course requirement. Additionally, Frimpong sees an opportunity for UTSC to hire more full-time racialized and Indigenous staff.
Frimpong has held a position as a work-study student in the Equity and Diversity Office for almost three years. In addition, she is the first coordinator of the Racialized Student Collective, an equity service centre on campus for racialized and Indigenous students.
“Both positions have given me plenty of experience working with various student groups and hearing what concerns students have,” wrote Frimpong in an email. “Over the years, I’ve lead [sic] equity trainings, workshops, participated in various conferences and panels, which have prepared me to be VP Equity.”