Chemi Lhamo, a Neuroscience and Psychology student in her fourth year of study, is leading the Shine Bright UTSC slate as its presidential candidate.
Lhamo currently serves as the SCSU’s Vice-President Equity.
“The reason why I’m running for president is because I want to prioritize student needs,” Lhamo said to The Varsity. “With my five years of experience at UTSC, I understand what student needs are and I know what gaps lie there.”
Lhamo was elected to her current position under the Rise Up UTSC slate in an election that resulted in a split-ticket executive.
She recalled growing up as a stateless Tibetan refugee in India and said that she “has gone through a lot of adversities in life,” now working three jobs to make ends meet in addition to keeping up with academic requirements and volunteering. She also mentioned creating a mentorship program for Tibetan youth in Canada.
On what her priorities would be as president, Lhamo pointed to representation. “I think I have emphasized this enough because representation is so important,” she said. “All my life I have been treated as an outsider. It’s not a sob story — it’s just a reality.”
Lhamo also criticized the provincial government’s announced changes to postsecondary education funding, including to the Ontario Student Assistance Program.
“The students will be affected tremendously… we’re talking about every single student,” she said. “Those cuts for the university tuition fees means that tuition fees for international students, unregulated students, will actually increase. So now we’re talking about Doug Ford’s cuts tremendously not benefitting… our student lives everywhere.”
In response to SCSYou presidential candidate Anup Atwal’s claim during Friday’s executive debate that he would donate his salary back to the union if he were elected, Lhamo called it a “noble act,” saying that “if he’d like to volunteer, I’d like to say there are many other opportunities to volunteer because I’ve been volunteering my whole life.”
However, she also advised caution for the future. “If I could donate the money back, I’d definitely do it, but I live a life that is not necessarily as privileged as other people have,” she said. “That kind of step is actually dangerous, because that’s precedence, or almost a barrier, for any other future presidents.”
— With files from Jayra Almanzor and Josie Kao