Student Advocacy, Mental Health Support Dominate CSU By-Election Forums

Voting to take place from Oct. 6 to Oct. 8 through ballots sent to CapU emails

Alisha Samnani // Managing Editor, News Editor
Bridget Stringer-Holden // Associate News Editor

Advocating for student voices, strengthening relations with Capilano University (CapU) faculty, and increasing mental health support were amongst the main points of discussion at the recent Capilano Students’ Union (CSU) candidate forums.

The CSU by-election will run online from Oct. 6 at 9 am to Oct. 8 at 5 pm, where 16 students are running for various occupancies. Elected students will hold their positions from mid-October 2020 through to May 31, 2021. To provide insight into the candidates’ visions for the CSU, two candidate forums were held on Sept. 29 and Oct. 1 from 12-1 pm. They have been recorded for those who were unable to attend and candidate statements have been posted on the CSU website.

The first forum, held on Tuesday, Sept. 29, included four candidates running for At-Large Representative, who made an appearance to discuss their goals and visions for the CSU. There are three at-large positions available this term and seven candidates up for election. 

According to the CSU Election Candidate Handbook, these representatives must attend the CSU board of directors meetings, where they inform the board of any known student perspectives or concerns. They must also be an active member of at least one committee, and perform any other duties as assigned by board members. This is a more flexible position than others on the CSU Board of Directors, however, all directors must align their initiatives with the CSU 2020-2025 Strategic Plan

Although all of the candidates who were present at the forum emphasized their desire to empower students in general, each candidate seemed to also have a more specific group of students in mind. Maya Bezeredi focused on mental health awareness and services, suggesting more online support and activities, while Chan Cardin—former Global and Community Studies Rep—touched on the importance of increasing representation for transgender, non-binary and gender non-conforming students, along with providing all students with increased access to information about the CSU. 

Transfer student Vedant Mehra directed audience attention toward creating a positive and inclusive environment by bridging the gap between students and the university, as well as perhaps a formal CSU orientation when students come to CapU. Akhira Yamagishi—also a transfer student—mentioned the importance of supporting current initiatives and creating more feedback mechanisms to gauge the students’ responses, ultimately increasing voter turnout. Other candidates that were unable to attend the forums were: Jaspreet Kaur, Narinder Singh, and Ramanpreet Singh.

Thursday’s forum welcomed candidates for the Queer Students Liaison, the Fine & Applied Arts Representative, Accessibility Justice Coordinator and Capilano Business & Professional Society Vice-President.

Alex Bergen and Saba Mohseni are the candidates for the Fine & Applied Arts Representative position. Just like the At-Large Representatives, they must go to meetings, sit on a committee and bring forward any concerns from students in their program. Mohseni was unable to attend the forums, but at Thursday’s forum, Bergen mentioned a need for increased community during the pandemic, and wants to use the position to propel social change.

Duties as a liason or coordinator for the CSU include attending the board of directors meetings, serving on at least one committee, raising social issues, organizing collective meetings and social justice events, liaising with students and the VP Equity & Sustainability. 

For the Accessibility Justice Coordinator position, there are three candidates: Reet, June Anna Reisner, and Riya. Reisner and Riya both attended the forum and focused primarily on forming increased ties between CSU and CapU resources and engaging students in creative ways online respectively.

Unlike Tuesday’s forum, Thursday’s forum consisted of a number of candidates running uncontested. Michaela Volpe is running for a third term as Queer Students Liaison, wanting to strengthen and recreate a strong community connection for queer students online. The Indigenous Students Liaison and the Global & Community Studies Faculty Representative remain vacant.

There are three candidates for positions at the Capilano Business & Professional Society (CBPS), a student run organization that enhances the academic, campus and social lives of students in the BPS programs. Candidate for Vice-Presidency of the CBPS, Ritika Rana, mentioned her desire to start a mentorship program to help students learn from others when she spoke of her vision for the CBPS. 

There are seven associations that make up the CBPS. Among them are the Capilano Accounting Association, with Aidan Lastoria running for the presidency, and the Capilano Human Resources Management Association, with Richard Lam also running uncontested. The Capilano Communications Association presidency position remains vacant at the moment.

Ballots will be sent to CapU emails along with a guide for students on how to vote—a process which external Elections Administrator Ron Laufer says should take no more than a couple of minutes. 

“All elections are important for the membership to have a say in who will be representing their community moving forward,” said Laufer. “Those elected will be representing the membership, including making decisions on what issues are made priorities and how membership money is spent.” 

Ballots will be sent to CapU emails on Oct. 6 at 9 am, and students are encouraged to vote until 5 pm on Oct. 8. For questions, visit the CSU Elections FAQ, the Candidate Handbook, or email the external CSU Elections Administrator.

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