SHANNA HUNTER/THE VARSITY

Bhanu Priya Sharma is a fourth-year Health Studies and Urban Studies student and one of four candidates running for Vice-President Student Life.

Sharma is currently the Events Coordinator for the Indian Students’ Society, the Outreach and Communications Coordinator for the High School Partnership Program subcommittee of the University of Toronto International Health Program, and the Upper-Year Representative for the Urban Studies Student Union.

When asked why she was running, Sharma told The Varsity that encouragement from current student politicians after the general election two weeks ago motivated her to begin her candidacy.

Sharma praised current VP Student Life Yolanda Alfaro’s work, saying that she hopes that she will not to be “extremely different,” but that she will have “different priorities.” Among them is addressing student funding for clubs in light of the Student Choice Initiative, which is the provincial government’s mandate for an opt-out option for certain student fees starting September.

She advocated heavily for accessibility and equality in funding by treating all clubs equally in the application process for funding, “no matter what their club is, or how large it is, or how small it is.”

She also wants to prioritize the expansion of UTSU services like free feminine hygiene products, free snacks, and cheap coffee and to make them available to students all day instead of during the UTSU’s business hours only.

For increasing student engagement with the UTSU, particularly in the face of low turnout in the March elections, Sharma wants to create open hours for students to come and engage, particularly as she was someone who was relatively apathetic to student politics just a few weeks ago.

On the topic of orientation, the largest responsibility for the VP Student Life, Sharma hopes to reach out and better communicate with student societies, clubs, and unions — something that she feels was missing from the 2018 orientation week.

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