Chaman Bukhari, a fourth-year Public Policy and International Development student and the co-president of the Pakistani Students’ Association at UTSC, is running to be the SCSU’s next Vice-President External.
In an interview with The Varsity, Bukhari said that he is running because the SCSU “hasn’t had a very positive image, and that’s in part due to abstract goals that the SCSU candidates set for themselves while they’re in office.” He said that he has tried to set more realistic and tangible campaign goals, so that students can readily assess whether they have been achieved, should they choose to elect him.
On the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), an organization that represents student unions across Canada, and which many member unions have left or attempted to leave in recent years, Bukhari said that it would be up to the students whether the SCSU should remain. He mentioned that he would act only as a liaison between UTSC students and the CFS.
He said that his goal is to first set up a committee to see what the pros and cons are of continued CFS membership.
“If the committee’s conclusion [tells] us that this is something that should be taken seriously in terms of our affiliation, and we are paying more than the value that we’re receiving in return, then it should go to a… petition, and only then should we be able to decide what happens.”
On the Ford government’s recent changes to postsecondary education funding, which includes the Student Choice Initiative that allows students to opt out of certain “non-essential” incidental fees, Bukhari said that the organization would be in talks with U of T in order to figure out the student union’s future.
On the cuts to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, Bukhari expressed disappointment and called it “detrimental” to the student experience across the province. “This is something that is very personal to me as well, and to my friends, and I look forward to communicating with the provincial government to make some sort of adjustment,” he said.
In the end, Bukhari noted that he hoped voters would decide “not based on popularity, but based on the policy.”
“In order to bring change, we need different people. We cannot expect change when we vote for the same faces.”