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UTGSU candidate profiles: Academics and Funding Commissioner Divisions 1 & 2

Bryan Liceralde and Dhanela Sivaparan
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Bryan Liceralde and Dhanela Sivaparan. COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES
Bryan Liceralde and Dhanela Sivaparan. COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES

Bryan Liceralde

Bryan Liceralde is a first-year political science master’s student. He previously ran for the position of University of Toronto Students’ Union president in 2019 and 2020. 

“I have a very strong sense of student patriotism,” Liceralde said in a Varsity interview, contrasting himself with the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union’s (UTGSU) prevailing apathy. He is motivated to help students who are “suffering” amid financial and mental health challenges. 

Liceralde’s academic platform includes greater exam accommodations for international doctoral students who are living in other time zones during the pandemic, and awarding academic honours to graduates — which he believes will help “launch their professional careers.” 

He will advocate for a credit/no credit option of one mandatory full course equivalent that he thinks may otherwise “sink [students’] entire grades.” To demonstrate support for the policy, he intends to conduct a campus-wide referendum.

To address funding issues, Liceralde will create a universal bursary for master’s students in financial need and advocate for an income-based tuition waiver for PhD students. He also promises to improve exposure to scholarship opportunities.

Aside from his immediate commissioner responsibilities, Liceralde will also challenge the union’s “corrupt reputation” — criticizing its insular and opaque nature.

To increase transparency, he will work to livestream board meetings, publicize meeting agendas, hold monthly town halls, and push commissioners to produce monthly social media updates on their initiatives. 

Believing himself to be a “force of change,” Liceralde stresses that he can lead students so that they don’t “go through any form of hell.”

Dhanela Sivaparan 

Dhanela Sivaparan is a third-year doctoral student in social justice education at U of T running for re-election.

In an email to The Varsity, Sivaparan wrote that she has worked for 12 years in various student committees and governance, in which she learned negotiation skills and how to navigate the student union world. Sivaparan has participated in committees that held a wide range of focuses, including anti-racism, equity and social justice, community outreach, and political action. 

Sivaparan hopes to combine her experience in student government and as a graduate student to advocate for her peers. She will focus on protecting student rights, making sure students have “the best funding opportunities,” supporting students through the COVID-19 pandemic, and expanding access to funding.

Specifically, she hopes to expand current funding initiatives and create new ones, like a UTGSU emergency funding grant and COVID-19 relief funds; develop a new career internship program on campus; and increase library technology equipment borrowing and book delivery, both curbside and online. 

“A vote for me is a vote to act: advocacy, commitment, and trust,” wrote Sivaparan.