By Kristy Koehler, February 27 2021—
The Students’ Union is hosting its annual series of General Election Forums over Zoom this year. On Feb. 23, current vice-president operations and finance Mohammad Ali hosted a Q&A session with acclaimed, incoming VP OpFi Mickail Hendi.
Hendi started off by saying that this year, owing to the virtual nature of things, brought with it a level of transparency that hadn’t been seen before in the SU.
“I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the very moment students got to see how things were run, they got to peek behind the curtain, there was this unprecedented surge of support for the SU and this unprecedented anger at the university administration,” he said, noting that the onus is on the incoming Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) to keep up that level of transparency.
Hendi discussed his platform, noting that one of his main points is to “re-examine the governance structures within the SU to make sure students have more of a say in how their SU is run.”
“The SU is the students,” said Hendi.
He said he’d like to broaden the scope of the role to work with student groups like the Faculty of Arts Students Association or the Engineering Students Society. In addition, he’d like to see SU businesses and services “switch to a board governance model.” Hendi noted that he worries about student perceptions of these businesses and services, that they’re seen as completely separate from the SU.
The most important part of his platform, said Hendi, is his plan to implement a “dedicated fee unit.” Though he isn’t sold on the name, calling it “clunky,” Hendi said this would allow the SU to help faculty associations collect fees.
“The SU is not the only group that advocates for students, and I believe it would greatly benefit the student body to have greater engagement with their faculty associations,” reads his platform.
Hendi also stated his desire for a food co-op on campus, but said there’s “lots of question marks about what that’s going to look like.” He says he’s passionate about food security.
When asked why OpFi was his chosen portfolio, Hendi said it seemed like the “logical continuation” of the work he’s already doing as the Board of Governors representative.
“I saw a unique opportunity to be useful and I went for it,” he said.
Ali posed a question about the SU business that needs the most attention upon a potential return to campus.
“If we’re able to be fully back on campus, I’d love to see a heightened sense of campus community,” said Hendi. “I’d love to see — I don’t know how to explain this — a spot on campus where folks go to just chill and hang out on campus. I think The Den could be a very good spot so we could focus on that business.”
As for what he’s looking forward to, Hendi says it’s having a radio show on CJSW. When pressed about what kind of music he’d like to play, he laughed and said “very pretentious contemporary classical music” and plenty of Pink Floyd.
“For a more far-reaching project I’m very excited to get something going for [Bermuda Shorts Day] next year. God willing we might have an in-person BSD.”
The VP OpFi chairs several committees and Hendi said he’s looking most forward to being part of the Operations and Finance Committee and the Policy Development and Review Committee (PDRC), noting it seems like they “present the biggest opportunities to change how things run.” He also said he hopes to “help other elected SLC members achieve their platform points through those committees as well.”
Hendi mentioned that managing MacHall is an important part of the VP OpFi portfolio and that, because it’s such an important part of student life, effective management can “make it a more student-friendly place.”
Like candidates before him, Hendi wants better food labelling and price tags at Stör, but acknowledges that others haven’t been able to succeed in these areas.
“I’m not entirely sure what the obstacles are that people have run into trying to implement them,” he said.
Questions came in from the virtual audience about Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) on campus and Hendi was asked if he felt the SU needed a vice-president equity role.
“We don’t need a new position for this,” he said, noting that the creation of such a role would make it feel a bit like letting go of collective responsibility for EDI and “giving it to one person and telling them to make us less racist.”
“If we want a real commitment to EDI it has to be in all of our individual portfolios,” said Hendi. “We all have to be constantly mindful of this.”
He says he’ll commit to “foregrounding the voices of students” and that there is plenty of opportunity to address EDI and “make sure the voices being foregrounded are intersectional.”
Ultimately, what Hendi wants is a “more cohesive campus community that loves each other and gets along with each other.”
Online voting takes place March 2-4 through your myUofC Student Centre.