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Photos by Mariah Wilson

SU election supplement 2020: vice-president student life

Assad Ali Bik

Assad Ali Bik’s platform got a glow-up! He ran for the position in 2018 and was largely panned by the Gauntlet’s panel for being unprepared. This year, our panel saw the Ali Bik who did his homework. He was prepared and is running on a solid platform that retains the passion of his previous campaign. Let’s be clear — he had good ideas in 2018, but those ideas are now more refined as a result of increased student consultation with regard to feasibility. By his own admission, he started consultation much earlier this year and factored the things he heard quite heavily into his platform.

“Advocacy means getting the student voice to decision-makers.”

He has made a significant effort to include the entire student body in his platform. It’s obvious this was done with care and authenticity and he’s one of the few candidates to discuss working toward greater accessibility on campus. 

Ali Bik expressed a desire to begin his campaign as someone who is open to listening to diverse groups of students on campus. He believes that the best way to engage students is by cultivating a reputation as someone who actively listens and takes action. His plan to introduce formal collaboration with the Residence Students’ Association (RSA) is a good one and something that’s largely been ignored until this point.

Ali Bik says the first thing he’ll do is focus on mental health and advocate for funding. He, perhaps naively, believes that making students aware of funding issues will engage them in finding a solution. He absolutely has a plan to increase student awareness that will be impactful and spread needed messages across campus, but he needs a more concrete plan for how to advocate for the issues he’s hearing about. 

BSD falls under the VPSL umbrella and Ali Bik’s plan for what to do about the event involves a lot of listening and consultation and no real plan for how to fix it — though to be fair, no one else had any better ideas.

Ali Bik has a warm, friendly and open personality that would make him a very approachable VPSL. He’s not in this for himself — he’s in it for the students. There’s no doubt that Ali Bik will be an active listener who will take action for student concerns. While he may lack a bit of direction in how he’ll go about actually accomplishing his platform points, there’s no doubt he’d learn quickly on the fly. He’s a kind, authentic, passionate individual who is a solid choice for VPSL.


Georgia East

Georgia East is earnest, thoughtful and well-prepared to run her campaign. Having spent the past year in the SU as education rep, East has a working knowledge of the issues the SU faces, notably a lack of student engagement with wellness resources and a lack of interest in improving social programming for students. Her solutions for these issues are streamlining the social events hosted by the SU and improving accessibility of wellness programming on campus — laudable intentions for a vice-president student life hopeful.

East’s Bermuda Shorts Day plan is unclear, although she insists that this is because she has a lot of ideas and is simply hesitant to be married to them. However, East points out that her past student leadership experience in other campuses involved her planning six BSD-style events in a given year, so she is clearly not incapable of successfully hosting such an event.

When asked about why her platform involves reimagining the SU Stress Busters initiative, East responded that her background in social work plays a major role in her prevention-based mental health platform. While this is certainly true, East’s recommendations when elaborating on the types of events that would replace Stress Buster events are not very different from regular social events — pizza parties or mini-putt events, for example. While improving social programming is a commendable goal for the role, East’s mental health prevention plan seems to merely have more social events, taking away the mental health-specific programming that previously existed, likely a disappointment to students hoping for more accessible mental health resources. East appears to counter this by advocating to make wellness services available after working hours to be more accessible, although she admits that this is likely not an achievable goal in her term.

“I have always believed that a Students’ Union is responsible for a well-rounded student experience.”

East’s key passion project is her multi-sensory room, for which she submitted a Quality Money application as education representative. The room, which would be of massive benefit to those who struggle with sensory stimulation, stems from East’s desire to provide a more accessible environment for all individuals on campus, a commendable goal. Her passion when discussing the need for such a room on campus is palpable and her passion for helping others is heartfelt, genuine and touching.

East’s past SU experience gives her a clear advantage over the other candidates, and her demonstrable interest and enthusiasm in engaging the campus community is an admirable quality in a vice-president student life candidate.


Ibrahim Oshodi

Ibrahim Oshodi is articulate and funny, cracking witticisms about his transition to university as he sat down at the interview table. Disappointingly, however, his campaign platform is largely unresearched and undefined, leaving much to be desired regarding his plans for the implementation of his platform goals.

Oshodi plans to host a series of larger social events during the school year, lamenting the lack of engagement between Fall Orientation Week and Bermuda Shorts Day. While this lack of engagement is a concern, Oshodi fails to clearly explain how his solution of holding low-cost events during the school year will improve the current state of student engagement. In addition, his plan for BSD is still to be determined. When asked about it, Oshodi responded that it was an important tradition to maintain, and later commented that he’d like to bring new energy into BSD by pitting traditional rivalries against each other in friendly competition, citing Haskayne and Schulich as an example. Apart from this, Oshodi did not go into further details about his vision for next year’s BSD despite it being one of the primary events hosted by the SU to foster a sense of community in the student population.

The rest of his platform deals with clubs, drawing from his past experience as executive in various student organizations, and identifies issues he believes need to be dealt with. Although Oshodi explained, quite reasonably, why these issues are important, he does little to suggest implementable solutions that are not already in place. For example, he suggests that the SU give clubs advice on dealing with turnover or marketing, but fails to explain how this idea differs from the detail-oriented Clubs Manual, which provides much of the same advice that he seeks to put in place.

“University is the time to find a community.”

His entire campaign centers around hosting events for students, making him the epitome of #VPParty. To be clear, Oshodi is well-intentioned, but his campaign reflects a lack of awareness about what things fall under the profile of student life. There is no plan whatsoever for mental health and wellness, priorities that need to be addressed on this campus.

Oshodi’s lack of implementable solutions and overly broad platform is a shame given his enviably high level of energy and affable, good-natured personality. He should consider running next year in a faculty representative role — his passion and genuine interest in building community would be embraced with open arms within his faculty.  


Sara Peppinck

A newcomer to the world of student politics, Sara Peppinck is well-intentioned but her platform lacks detail.

Peppinck’s platform on the SU website consists almost exclusively of her resume — which boasts an extensive list of accomplishments. While she has frequently stated that she has a million ideas ready to implement as vice-president student life, she didn’t detail any of them in her platform. Peppinck sent us a list of points centred around clubs, campus life and accountability. Her clubs-related platform section — aiming to help clubs run smoothly and mentor new ones — describes the basic requirements for someone in the role and does not propose anything imaginative or new. The accountability aspect of her platform aims to hold the SU accountable to the university’s Indigenous Strategy, Campus Mental Health Strategy and sustainability goals. Her commitment to diversity on campus is laudable and her intentions are genuine.

“I have a million ideas all the time for events!”

Peppinck’s main focus seems to be improving the quality of the campus experience through social events. Here, she identifies the issue of a lack of mature student inclusion in campus events, as well as a general lack of student engagement. She wants to bring more live music to the Den which is a great idea. One of her proposals to improve the current state of affairs is to implement a series of artistic endeavours around campus, such as film festivals, art pieces and artistic architecture around campus. When asked how she feels students from other faculties would fit into this picture, Peppinck replied that these students will also connect with the art, stating that all types of faculties are involved in the creation of art. Finally, when asked about her plans for BSD, Peppinck responded that the event may now be a thing of the past, that perhaps the event should no longer be called “Bermuda Shorts Day,” and proposes to de-transition the event from an alcohol-focused party event to something new to improve student engagement, suggesting everything from live music festivals to paint murals to sports competitions, although she has yet to tie herself to a fleshed-out proposed alternative.

Without seeing the fully-detailed version of her “million ideas,” it is impossible to scrutinize her platform to the same degree as other candidates.  As much of it seems up in the air, there is very little substance to Peppinck’s actual platform or policy ideas, though she’s starting from the right place.

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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