When Aly Samji started telling us about his platform, we were blown away. Our panel could have listened to him speak all day. His calm and rational demeanor gave way to a passion for advocacy and the student experience.
Samji has a robust understanding of the specific pressures facing students at Haskayne and wants to help integrate them into the larger campus community and help fight against the alienation that plagues many students in the business school. His plan to implement monthly town halls to keep communication going between Haskayne and the SU is very doable and would assist in alleviating some of the isolation. He is realistic that attendance to some of these town halls may be limited at first and he understands that making time to chat with students and start a conversation is the first step.
Mental health features prominently in Samji’s plans. He identified that many students in Haskayne are reluctant to discuss mental well-being because of the nature of business school and the preconceived notions of how a successful businessperson should behave. Samji wants to create a culture and a conversation that’s more accepting of mental health in business.
Samji’s platform is realistic. While it doesn’t promise the world and may even look a little bland, all of the items are actionable and would make a positive impact to Haskayne students.
What sets him apart from the other candidates in the field is his experience advocating specifically for Haskayne students. Samji has been very involved with student groups at Haskayne and despite being a second-year business student he is well-equipped to move onto a bigger stage like the SU.
Don’t let Samji’s soft-spoken nature fool you — he would be an incredible advocate for student interests that fellow students, faculty, administration and even government officials would take seriously.
Muhammad Khandwalla shows a lack of understanding of the Students’ Union and the position he is running for. Khandwalla’s campaign is lacking significantly in the sense that it is entirely focused on the fact that, according to him, “students just want to finish up work and go home. Everyone just wants to finish class, get good GPAs, and leave, and that’s really annoying.” Yeah, that’s kind of what happens in an academic institution.
Khandwalla, who has admitted to having no knowledge of his competitors’ platforms, inaccurately stated that he thinks “the SU is just a committee you can get student loans and bursaries from” and is setting out to vaguely create “awareness” about that. When asked about what makes his platform unique, Khandwalla directs it to the fact that he “loves to learn” and is taking a First-Aid course, because yes, apparently the most pressing issue at Haskayne is the overwhelming amount of choking hazards.
I’m having difficulty figuring out whether I dislike Khandwalla’s campaign because of his lack of consideration of legitimate student struggles, or the fact that he was being completely serious when he said, “I am very competitive, I look at other people and it’s like I want to be at the top and I want to create some kind of distinction between myself and others.”
Other painfully cringeworthy instances like this made it evident that Khandwalla mostly has no clue about what he represents, but is only concerned with holding a position of office for the sake of holding power. Instead of detailing a coherent plan as to how he plans to work for students in the Haskayne School of Business, Khandwalla’s platform is a 300-word essay, limited to Pet Therapy, his days a national-level swimmer, and “fighting to end poverty and hunger back in Kenya.”
While Khandwalla has a lot of passion for engaging the student body, he, unfortunately, lacks the platform necessary to be considered a compelling candidate for this position.
Shagufta Farheen has confidence in spades. Hearing her platform was like hearing a business pitch on Dragon’s Den, which is probably perfect for someone running to be Haskyane rep.
Her focus is on academics, career opportunities and mentorship and while mental health does feature in her platform it comes across as not as important as the other pieces.
The number one issue facing Haskayne students, according to Farheen, is transparency. She feels that business students aren’t kept in the loop regarding the goings-on in her faculty. Her plan for monthly town halls is doable and would go a long way to incorporating Haskayne into the larger UCalgary community.
A first-year mentorship program is one of the primary things she wants to accomplish in her term and she has the personality to convince senior students, faculty and alumni to participate. It isn’t just an idea for Farheen — she actually has a solid plan for how to get this done.
Farheen’s platform is actionable and achievable — she isn’t promising anything she can’t deliver. She’s not very familiar with the structure of the SU but would be a quick learner and would be very capable of increasing awareness in Haskayne of what the SU actually does.
Overall, Farheen is boisterous, personable and can make her voice heard. She comes across as someone who can get things done quickly and efficiently and would be a good choice for Haskayne rep if academics and networking opportunities are important to you.
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!