UWSA general election race: Every faculty rep seat acclaimed as executive contests kick off

Gord Bacon

The word acclaimed is usually seen as a positive connotation, but not when applied to the number of uncontested seats in student government.

With the 2012 University of Windsor Students’ Alliance General Election underway, every faculty representative seat is currently acclaimed, meaning those running for a seat simply need to receive a vote of confidence from the student body.

Of the 28 council seats reserved for faculty representatives, only 17 are currently spoken for, while the faculties of human kinetics, education and law haven’t garnered any candidates. The Centre for Interfaculty Studies, the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, the Odette School of Business and the Faculty of Science are the only council seats to have attracted the required number of delegates.

The trend is not far from the campus norm, as 20 seats were acclaimed, 15 remained vacant in the 2010 elections.

The lack of competition is unfortunate, according to UWSA president André Capaldi.

“I really believe more students need to get involved in student council. It’s the best way to have their voices heard and I find many students don’t take advantage of that,” said Capaldi, who thinks the race to find his replacement between, Kimberly Orr, Sheldon Harrison and Omar Shahid, will be the one to watch.

The only positions to currently being contested are at the executive, campus wide and special constituency level with seven people in the running for one of six board of director seats, three people running vice-president finance and operation, four running for vice-president administration, two running for vice-president university affairs, and three people running for president. The Lance Oversight Board only attracted four candidates for the six spots available.

To put these numbers into perspective, 59 students ran for president alone at the University of Waterloo’s student elections this month.

The slew of acclaimed positions is not from lack of trying, according to chief returning officer Jordan Renaud.

“I think there’s a bit of a mystic to the process of running for council. Students may think it’s a lot more difficult to get involved in campus politics than it is,” said Renaud, adding that vacant positions typically get filled in the fall byelection. “We take out advertisements, put up posters, post notifications to our website and to campus publications. All we can do is make students aware that they can run and how to run for these positions.”

A complete list of candidates for the UWSA general election can be found at uwsa.ca.

Presidential Candidates

Kimberly Orr
Fourth-year environmental studies minoring in political science

UWSA experience: Three years as a faculty representative, senator and most recently as the vice-president of university affairs.

“After a successful year of external promotion, the UWSA needs to refocus its internal priorities and improve the services that it offers, and how the organization operates. Students should elect me because I am the most experienced candidate on the ballot … I have proven myself to be dedicated to the UWSA, a tireless advocate for students and an exceptional leader.”

Campaign focus
• Quality and affordability of education
• Improve study spaces, improve food offered on campus to include healthier, more convenient options and improve printing services on campus

Omar Farooq Shahid
Third-year computer science

UWSA experience: None

“The UWSA needs change and a fresh approach to organized management. I feel that even though the UWSA says that they represent full-time undergraduate students, a widening disconnect exists. I want to engage students with increased campus activities and provide clubs with more support. I want to give every student the feeling that they are an integral part of the UWSA.”

Campaign focus
• Education expense and raising greater campus life awareness.

Sheldon Harrison
[unavaliable for comment]

VP Finance & Operations Candidates

Erik Pigeon
Fourth-year bachelor of commerce

UWSA experience: None

“I’m ready to hold people accountable for their actions and decisions, and I’m ready to bring transparency and inclusiveness to the UWSA and all of its functions. I do not think inside the box, but opt to build the box instead. Erik Pigeon is a leader, not a follower.”

Campaign focus

• UWSA transparency, student outreach and better campus cohesion

Shivang Bali
Fourth-year bachelor of commerce

UWSA experience: One year as an Odette Business School student council representative

“A leader’s role is that of a sense maker, to see constellations where others see stars. We have students with potential and we have clubs on campus that care and are taking action. All we need is leadership that will help make sense of these student’s actions, and provide the monetary and operational platform to support them. I genuinely believe that I can bring that kind of leadership.”

Campaign focus
• The Thirsty Scholar Pub debt, parking availability and charges, registration procedures, UWindsor branding, classroom upgrades and a greener campus

Jacob Sayami
[unavaliable for comment]

VA Administration Candidates

Alyssa Atkins
Fourth-year bachelor of commerce

UWSA experience: None

“I am an enthusiastic, self-motivated student with exceptionally strong leadership skills. I think outside the box and excel at implementation. I have been involved extensively on campus and continually initiate and organize events that reach out to both local and international communities in need. I am passionate about making our university a place that students desire to be.”

Campaign focus
• Increase school spirit, campus wide events and entertainment by better utilizing the UWSA budget

John Weedmark-King
Fourth-year political science and psychology

UWSA experience: None

“I’m a dedicated individual with tons of experience in a similar position. I promise to fight for a cleaner environment on campus and I promise to engage students and improve the student experience. Lastly, I promise to ensure that your voice matters in decisions and that’s why students should elect me.”

Campaign focus
• Engaging students, accountability, campus society/club outreach and better use of social media

Shaista Akbar
Third-year women’s studies

UWSA experience: One year as communications co-ordinator and two years as the Womyn’s Centre co-ordinator

“I have proven myself as a sincere, honest, organized and skilled leader. I have been able to increase student awareness and involvement through the restructuring of the Womyn’s Centre and I feel I can bring this experience and skills to the UWSA to raise school spirit and enrich campus life.”

Campaign focus
• Increased student involvement, mental health awareness and improved administrative communication

Hassan Chaudhry
[unavaliable for comment]

VP University Affairs Candidates

Jacob De Jong

Fourth-year international relations

UWSA experience: Over three years. Currently an elected board representative and serves chair for board and council meetings

“Between my academic achievements, my three years in the Canadian Armed Forces as a naval reservist and my time on both council and board, I have shown that my determination, dedication and experience are what is needed to ensure the UWSA student are best represented. A vote for Jacob de Jong is a vote for integrity, drive and a better campus.”

Campaign focus
• Plans to lobby to extend the Ontario Tuition Grant to all students and increase funding to improve the quality of education and the reputation of UWindsor

Mohammad Akbar
Third-year political science

UWSA experience: One year as an arts and social sciences representative

“My allegiance is only to the students of this university, and my goals are only to make the university better for students in any way I can. I am dedicated to preserving the rights and freedoms of all students and providing a real sense of evolution in the UWSA, to defend liberty and promote fairness and to put all UWSA fee increases to a referendum.”

Campaign focus
• campus politics awareness, reinstatement of a fall reading week and campus pride

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