SCSU candidate profiles: Vice President Academics and University Affairs

Lulu Gemma (VISION UTSC), Yathu Uthayan (WENITED)
Left to right: VISION UTSC’s Lulu Gemma, WENITED’s Yathu Uthayan. 
courtesy of VISION UTSC and WENITED
Left to right: VISION UTSC’s Lulu Gemma, WENITED’s Yathu Uthayan. courtesy of VISION UTSC and WENITED

Lulu Gemma (VISION UTSC)

Lulu Gemma is a fourth-year student who studies psychology and health studies. She is running to be the next vice-president, academic & university affairs of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union (SCSU) under the VISION UTSC slate.

Gemma’s motivation for running stems from the personal struggles she has faced while navigating the academic system at UTSC. Thus far, not only has her time been characterized by a heavy dependence on the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP), but she has also experienced a program change and has had to rely on her professors and student union for additional support. In an interview with The Varsity, Gemma expressed that she wants “to be able to give students a platform where those issues are easier to mitigate.”

Her key priorities include moving forward on OSAP reform, providing students with more accessible academic tools — which could be done by paying professors a lump sum to post their textbooks and other required resources online — and increasing the number of credit/no credit courses that a student can enrol in.

“I also want to advocate to make permanent 24-hour study spaces,” Gemma noted. Because of a lack of these dedicated spaces, “Many students don’t get to stay on campus and participate in events and stick around for other academic review sessions.”

Yathu Uthayan (WENITED)

Yathu Uthayan, a fifth-year student studying human biology and psychology, is running for the vice-president, academic & university affairs position on the SCSU under the WENITED slate.

In an interview with The Varsity, Uthayan spoke about his experience, citing his creation of the UTSC Tamil Networking Association, which, according to him, saw significant growth and attracted many people to its events. This is something he hopes to replicate with SCSU.

“I want to actually make sure that all the events, everything that we do on SCSU is being continued and delivering its purpose,” stressed Uthayan.

Uthayan also expressed that his diversity of experience was relevant for the role, which includes prior experience with SCSU, the Scarborough Harry Potter Alliance, and the Tamil Students’ Association.

Uthayan explained that he has delivered specific campaign promises with timelines so that students can hold him accountable. One of his plans is to lobby the administration to ensure that marks are posted at least 10 days before the start of the next semester, and another is to allow students to credit/no credit courses until the last day of the semester.

“You can see all my points are kind of shaped toward making sure that students are making more informed choices,” said Uthayan.

When asked how he will approach the role, Uthayan said that his responsibility would be “to make sure the students at UTSC are effective, efficient, and successful.”

—With files from Andy Takagi

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