Candidates make their case at TRUSU election forum

Your Vote=Your Voice president candidate Melissa Gordon. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Your Vote=Your Voice president candidate Melissa Gordon. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

The TRU community had the opportunity to meet the thirty students competing to represent them on the TRUSU board of directors during the All-Candidates forum held on Monday, March 23.

Candidates for all thirteen positions on the TRUSU board had the opportunity to address students on Monday evening in the TRUSU lecture hall. The candidates are mostly divided into two slates, Your Vote=Your Voice and TRU Synergy, but there were a few independent candidates as well.

The evening began with questions for the candidates for president of the board of directors. First up was president candidate Assetou Coulibaly (TRU Synergy). Coulibaly said she intended to draw on her experience in leadership positions of various TRU committees and as a residence advisor to lead the student union. When asked what the most important issue facing the student caucus is, Coulibaly replied that the divisions between faculties and nationalities at TRU was a major concern and she would work to promote a “positive campus experience for everyone.”

Assetou Coulibaly president candidate for TRU Synergy. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Assetou Coulibaly president candidate for TRU Synergy. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Melissa Gordon (Your Vote=Your Voice), candidate for president, said her previous experience on the board of directors as VP internal was her main qualification for the presidency.

“I’m very positive, I like to get people’s energy and hopes up,” she said in her opening statement.

According to Gordon, the most important issue facing the student caucus is making improvements to the academic advising system at TRU so that students have access to more accurate information when registering for courses.

Jordon Robinson (independent) said that he previously owned a construction company and that leadership experience would help him as president. Robinson said that he would work to establish more 24-hour study spaces on campus if he was elected president.

VP external candidates were next up. Amber Storvold (Your Vote=Your Voice), said that the most important issue for the external campaigns committee to address is acquiring the necessary funding to get TRU international students on the student union health and dental plan.

Kenna Sim (TRU Synergy) said that if elected, she would “work with the city to improve transit reliability.”

Christopher Herbert, independent VP external candidate. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Christopher Herbert, independent VP external candidate. (Jim Elliot/The Omega)

Christopher Herbert (independent) expressed that he felt that the student union had too little power, citing an incident where the union was unable to secure him a refund from the registrar when he was forced to drop classes for personal reasons.

Candidates for the VP Finance position included Mwansa Kaunda (TRU Synergy) and incumbent Ryan Makar (Your Vote=Your Voice). Both candidates expressed an interest in reforming the student services medical plan.

Kaunda said he would seek to “subsidize the amount paid by each student,” while Makar hopes to get international students on the health and dental plan.

Both candidates for VP internal, Hlazo Chansa (TRU Synergy) and Meshari Alanazi (Your Vote=Your Voice) cited experience planning student entertainment events as qualifications for the position.

Chansa promised better artists for the Tunes Against Tuition concert next year if he is elected.

Candidates for the director-at-large and advocacy roles on the board of directors also made their cases.

Among the advocacy and director-at-large positions, the international students’ representative position is most heavily contested, with four candidates seeking the position. Prateek Chaudhary (independent) pledged to better address the mental health of international students stating that “depression is an issue for international students living in a new culture.” Chaudhary also does not think that adding international students to the health and dental plan is feasible in its current state.

Daria Kalachevskaia (independent) wanted to promote the sharing of international and Canadian culture and pledged to do something about the “long line up for international academic advising and admissions” that forms at the start of each semester.

Tsungai Mhembere (TRU Synergy) said she wants to institute per-credit tuition for international students and did not think that the previous international students’ representative was visible enough to new students.

Bogdana Prymak (Your Vote=Your Voice) said that it was important for the new international students’ representative to “change the image of the student union” and “hold a referendum on the international health and dental plan.”

The LGBTQ representative and women’s representative candidates, Julian Simpson and Paige Bernard respectively, are running unopposed.