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UTGSU candidate profiles: External Commissioner

Justin Patrick and Kirthika Shanmugham
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Justin Patrick.COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES
Justin Patrick.COURTESY OF THE CANDIDATES

Justin Patrick 

Justin Patrick is a first-year PhD student in political science who is currently the president of the International Association for Political Science Students and previously served as the UTGSU’s internal commissioner from January to April 2019. 

If elected, he hopes to expand the UTGSU’s partnerships with external organizations, both on a national and international scale, as well as with other campus groups. 

“I’m running because I believe that there’s a lot that the UTGSU can do in terms of increasing its influence in advocacy at the international level,” said Patrick in an interview with The Varsity

In particular, Patrick wants to create a new team entirely focused on external affairs; explore opportunities with organizations like the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organizations; and “[empower] campus groups to have access to those international opportunities.”

He explained that the UTGSU so far has “missed potential” with its advocacy efforts. “I think there’s a lot of things that the UTGSU can do on the external affairs front in terms of mobilizing students” on issues such as lowering tuition with the help of stronger external connections. 

Kirthika Shanmugham

Kirthika Shanmugham is a second-year Master of Engineering student who has previously been a part of a graduate life committee and is currently the vice-president of the International Students’ Caucus. 

In an interview with The Varsity, she said that, being an international student, she was motivated to run for the position after seeing and experiencing the struggles international students face. Therefore, if elected, she will “[create] funding opportunities [that] could really ease the burden of international students.”

She wants to conduct more town hall meetings, ensure professors have more communication with students, and create new work-study positions for marginalized students, particularly international students, who may have difficulty finding work without Canadian work experience. 

Lastly, Shanmugham wants to work on transparency, saying that she hopes to “reduce the communication gap” between students and the union “so that… students know what the union has done for them, and [the] union can also communicate with students to address their issues.”

Disclosure: Shanmugham is currently running in the 2021–2022 Varsity Publications Board of Directors elections.