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SU election supplement 2020: Faculty of Arts representatives

Fayo Abdi

Fayo Abdi did not interview with the Gauntlet. Having not spoken with her, a thorough analysis of her platform wasn’t possible and we can only make a judgement based on the platform posted on the SU’s website.

Unfortunately, the posted platform isn’t a platform at all, but several hundred words of platitudes.

“I would like to implement what the students of my faculty want as opposed to what I think they want” and “The changes you want to see are the ones I want to execute” are two quotes taken verbatim from the platform. This information says absolutely nothing about what she will do to make life better for arts students.

Overall, it seems that consultation with students in the faculty has not yet been completed and Abdi would be starting from a significant step behind the other candidates as a result. 

Abdi says she wants to provide the same opportunities for growth to arts students that are provided in other faculties, but there is absolutely no indication of what these growth opportunities are. The only two actionable pieces to her platform are “more workshops for professional development” and more networking opportunities, though there is no clarity as to what these thing are. 

She also states that “there are always ways for students to enhance themselves and their degree.” What are they? Overall, Abdi’s platform has no structure and no plan.

The one positive to her posted platform does reference the diversity of the Faculty of Arts and includes everything “from economics to dance” and we appreciated the inclusiveness of the underrepresented fine art department.


Brandon Eby

Brandon Eby is a passionate candidate for arts rep, with a platform grounded in advocacy. Their prioritizing of student consultation makes them a strong contender for the position.

Reducing food insecurity is one of Eby’s main goals. Part of their plan to address this is to also recognize the importance of diverse food options to food security, a component that shows incredible awareness and sensitivity. Though SU campaigns have often included working towards including halal and kosher options on campus, Eby’s plan was more practical than some past plans. They would advocate for diverse and accessible options for new vendors, and work to ensure existing vendors respect dietary restrictions by implementing efforts are made to prevent things like cross-contamination.

“I want to make sure that I’m going to students, making sure that everything is absolutely transparent.”

Eby’s other main concern is mental health. They’re interested in SLC conducting a full review of the Wellness Centre to identify improvements. Eby mentioned one improvement would be making sure that it has a diverse community, as they’d heard concerns from students that they’d felt alienated from interactions. It’s unclear how far the arts representative role could influence decisions in the Wellness Centre on this level, but Eby would certainly be another voice in SLC advocating for improvements.

Eby’s platform lacks points that are specific to the arts faculty. However, their platform includes a heavy focus on student consultation, including proposing “fireside chats” to make the SU more transparent to students. If Eby follows through on these plans, they would be in a great position to advocate for the needs of arts students for incoming issues and projects.

Eby stated that their experience in advocacy and protesting in the campus club Students for Direct Action distinguishes them from the other candidates. Eby is a candidate against complacency and is ready to use their position to fight for students. They would be a useful addition to SLC to ensure student voices are heard.


Justin Gotta

Justin Gotta is running for a second term as Faculty of Arts Representative. In his first term, he proved himself to be a passionate advocate for student consultation and SLC minutes reveal him being a vocal voice for arts students.

Gotta is passionate about research opportunities for the Faculty of Arts, correctly identifying the lack of awareness of these opportunities as an issue that arts students care very much about. Gotta believes that research opens up a lot of gateways for students and wants to help his faculty understand that they too have a place in a research-intensive institution. This goal shows awareness of the climate facing students upon graduation and an ability to use the resources available to him to help students.

“When you vote in the SU election, you are voting for students like myself who want to be strong advocates.”

His plan to resurrect the D2L shell for the faculty is doable and would provide a simple way to connect a large, diverse faculty. He also wants to increase the social media presence of the arts reps, citing the fact that many students take to platforms like Reddit when they are upset, rather than speaking with someone who can actually help them.

He wants to continue his work in connecting faculty and staff and plan more events where networking can occur.

While he didn’t achieve all of his platform goals in his first term, Gotta learned from the experience and has come back with a platform that is more doable and actionable. He also found ways around the obstacles he faced in achieving his goals, showing tenacity and adaptability.

His greatest strength is his ability to connect with a broad cross-section of arts students and bring their voice to SLC. Gotta has proven himself an effective and impactful faculty rep with a wide network of students with whom to draw on for consultation. 


Caitlin Hornbeck

Caitlin Hornbeck arrived to our interview with a bucketful of energy, a handful of ideas and a spoonful of charisma. Hornbeck is new to student politics — this will be her first term — but she understands how the system works and what students typically expect from an arts representative and is not afraid to challenge herself in the role.

Her sustainability initiative is a creative step in the right direction, effectively distinguishing her from other candidates in her robust explanation of how she plans on implementing her goal of making major programs and events sustainable, explaining that she hopes to make major programs and events hosted by the Faculty of Arts certified sustainable. Her personal workshops and events are also to be certified sustainable, helping her advance her sustainability platform in a realistic, feasible manner.

“I believe that my platform gets to the heart of improving student life on campus.”

When asked about her second key platform goal — her professional development workshops — Hornbeck seemed to falter. She aims to tackle the issue of falling graduate employment rates in the faculty by hosting a series of professional development workshops with certificates attached to the completion of a given workshop, but fails to adequately explain how these certificates will help arts students find a job apart from her claim that they will boost the confidence of those seeking employment. This aspect of her platform is a key area in which she will need to elaborate during her campaign if she hopes to convince arts students that these workshops will increase the likelihood of them finding a job after their degree.  

Hopefully Hornbeck will have ironed out these details come voting period, as the sustainability element of her platform is unique, innovative and deserves implementation. Hornbeck also exudes confidence and enthusiasm, both important qualities in an arts rep, and will likely serve as a worthy student representative if elected.


Rody Visotski

Rody Visotski has a genuine desire to unite the Faculty of Arts and recognizes the diversity present within the faculty. He knows his platform inside out and was well-prepared for the interview — and for his campaign. He’s knowledgeable about the faculty and all levels of government.

We liked Visotski’s understanding that not only are students voting for the platform, but the person behind the platform and his personality impressed our panel.

He has plenty of leadership experience with the YELL Youth Council and has advocated for youth in his community to several levels of government already. 

Visotski has a lot of ideas and many plans but getting them all done would be next to impossible in a one-year term. That being said, he has an incredible level of awareness that plans change and shift and sometimes alterations on the fly are necessary. Once he realizes it won’t all get finished, he is someone who will be able to set priorities and determine which things are doable and which things are most imperative to impacting student life in the Faculty of Arts.

“You’re committing to the platform, but also to the person.”

He’s aware that his limited experience with the SU and with the university itself could be seen as a hindrance, but he also recognizes that fresh eyes are beneficial. He has experience with advocacy and with taking on new challenges that would be very transferable to a faculty rep role.

Visotski is an impressive candidate — don’t let his first-year status fool you. He comes across as someone able to step right into the role and get things done.


Malika Qurishi

This is Malika Qurishi’s second time running for arts rep and this year, her platform is more viable than last year’s. She’s done more research into the specifics and has focused her ideas in a more tangible way.

Qurishi has divided the engagement piece of her platform up into academic and non-academic engagement. She understands that a robust amount of extracurricular activities is helpful when entering the job market and applying to graduate studies.

As far as advocacy goes, Qurishi wants to make students more aware of the SU and invite students to join in on advocacy efforts. She has a keen understanding of how a united student body is stronger when advocating to government and university administration in the face of tuition increases. As far as this engagement goes, she plans to use clubs and student groups to assist her, believing that engaging with them and their events is a good step to reaching the most amount of people in the shortest amount of time. She’s right. Qurishi also understands that face-to-face interaction is the way to go and that e-mails and social media campaigns aren’t always the best way to reach people as too much information online can get lost in the noise.

“I want arts students to be more aware of SU initiatives.”

Qurishi’s number-one issue she would like to work on if elected is engaging students in helping the SU to advocate for them.

She has extensive involvement in campus clubs and in non-profit work off-campus and has studied up on the SU and its governance structure since her last campaign.

Like most candidates, Qurishi wants to increase the unity in the faculty, recognizing the diversity of disciplines contained within arts. We would have liked to see some mention or focus on Fine Arts students as they are often forgotten by arts reps.

Overall, Malika would bring passion, focus and fresh thinking to the Faculty of Arts rep position and is a solid choice.


Sareen Singh

Sareen Singh did not interview with the Gauntlet. Having not spoken with him, a thorough analysis of his platform wasn’t possible and we can only make a judgement based on the platform posted on the SU’s website.

Overall, in looking at Singh’s platform, the information did not impress. He plans to entice students to shop at university businesses by “advertising on boards” and offering incentives to increase revenue for the university in order to prevent tuition increases. We’re unsure why giving money to the university for one thing intead of another is a good idea. The Bookstore would have to sell an awful lot of Dinos hoodies to prevent another rise in tuition. Simply handing money to the university through a different revenue stream is a bizarre economic plan that makes no sense. He also seems unaware that many of the businessess students spend their money at actually belong to the SU, rather than the university.

His plan to “increase the amount of students that partake in physical activity to improve mental wellbeing” displays an attitude of “quick-fix” toward the issue of mental health. A couple of dumbbells in the fitness centre or an extra treadmill will be unlikely to solve any issues people are facing with regard to services and resources for mental health.

Overall, the platform is not well thought-out, nor does it display an understanding of the issues facing students and lacks knowledge of the role of arts rep.

Remember, the supplement constitutes the opinions of our panel — it’s important that you read the candidate’s platforms on the SU’s website, interact with those running for positions, ask questions and make up your own minds about who deserves your vote!



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