Student wins TRUSU election while quarantining with COVID-19

Shannon Lopes was elected women’s representative of the TRUSU while stuck at home after testing positive for the virus

Shannon Lopes will join office with the new TRUSU team on May 1. (Submitted)

“It was by far the scariest week,” said Shannon Lopes, who on March 26 was elected women’s representative of the TRU Student’s Union’s Equity Committee. “It happened so quickly. I didn’t even have time to process.” 

On March 22, just two days before voting began in the TRUSU elections, Lopes and her entire family tested positive for COVID-19. They remain quarantined in their home in Mumbai, India. 

After the positive tests, Lopes’s biggest worry was for the well-being of her family.

 “My parents are older, so I was really worried for them. Because I knew that I would recover, but I was scared for them.”

While Lopes and her mother suffered from mild symptoms, her father, Avelino, suffered more severely. 

“My dad was pretty bad. He had a severe cold and cough and body aches,” said Lopes. “My dad needed medical attention. By god’s grace, he got a bed at the hospital. 

Avelino Lopes has since been discharged and is now recovering in the family’s home. Lopes and her parents have all seen their conditions improve, but are still experiencing mild COVID-19 symptoms. 

Lopes and her family are among the 88,710 COVID-19 cases reported in Mumbai in March, up over 480% from February’s infection count of 18,359. The city is reporting critical shortages of ICU beds.

“There’s a second wave, and it’s a madhouse here,” said Lopes. “I live near the highway, and after every five minutes, I hear ambulances passing by. It’s pretty scary.” 

Despite her diagnosis, the post-baccalaureate HR student spent time campaigning for voters. She reached out to as many of her classmates as she could manage.  

“I don’t really remember how many people I reached out to because I was so tired the entire week from running to the hospital, coming home, taking care of things,” said Lopes. 

Despite the challenges she faced in her campaign, Lopes was elected women’s representative with a total of 405 votes, 57 more than opposing candidate Rida Zainab received.

Lopes chose to run for the position because of her strong feminist convictions. 

“I do consider myself a feminist, and feminism is essential in today’s world,” says Lopes. “There is patriarchy everywhere…It’s about time that we call out toxic behaviour.”

While Lopes has no previous experience advocating for women’s rights, she has experience participating in social movements. 

“I have always participated in the pride march in Mumbai…I have actively volunteered in community services in India, teaching the Dalits. They are marginalized people and have lots of crime inflicted upon them. They have no voices… but everybody deserves to be heard,” said Lopes. 

She credits a straightforward campaign approach and a shared desire for social progress with her ballot box success. 

“People want changes. People want women of colour to stand in places of power,” said Lopes. “They saw that I’m not bluffing, I’m not playing with people’s emotions. I think that’s why people voted for me.”

Lopes will assume office as women’s representative of the TRUSU on May 1. For the full 2021 TRU Student Union election results, visit the student union’s website.