2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Graphic by Valery Perez

SU president forum intensifies as candidates share their strong points

By Sophia Lopez, March 7 2023

The Students’ Union (SU) president forum for candidates running in the 2023 SU General Election intensified as the question and answer period towards the end put the candidates up against each other. 

The forum today in Mac Hall, moderated by current SU President Nicole Schmidt, allowed candidates Mickail Hendi and Shaziah Jinnah Morsette to further inform students on their platform and what they plan on bringing to the table. 

“I think this is a very tough time to be a student right now. We’re facing nearly tuition increases, we’re facing an out-of-control cost of living crisis, and stagnating quality of education,” said Hendi when talking about his reason behind running in the election. “It’s very clear to me that these should be the priorities of the Students’ Union.”

In her introduction, Morsette also discussed her reasoning behind running, which includes continuing the work she’s been doing in her current position as vice-president academic.

“Since being in office as your vice-president academic, my motivation for the job hasn’t disappeared, but only grown,” she said. “I am running to be an SU executive once again because to empower our students, I believe that we must be able to see ourselves in our student leaders.

“I am the only candidate in this race with proven success on university committees,” she stated.

After a question period by Schmidt, students were given the chance to ask questions to the candidates relating to their platform and responses during the forum. 

Hendi has been present in the SU before as the vice-president operations and finance on the 79th Students’ Legislative Council. Mateusz Salmassi, the current vice-president external who running for re-election, asked Hendi if he accomplished anything during his term which he was directly involved in. 

“I think you’ll find that a lot of the work on the EDI [Equity, Diversity and Inclusion] review was in fact undertaken by myself,” said Hendi. “I personally looked over a lot of a lot of the policies.”

As for being involved in student-led protests and rallies, Hendi explained that he was unable to be involved due to the responsibilities he already had in his position. 

In the following question, the current faculty of science representative and candidate for the vice-president academic position, Sandra Amin, asked Hendi to address his claim that faculty representatives don’t have time to talk to students when she and other representatives helped organize rallies and events to address student concerns. 

Hendi makes sure to note that his intentions were never to discredit the work of the current representatives, but rather address the fact that the work they did is not a part of their position responsibilities. 

“We can’t deny that this isn’t part of the expected responsibilities of executives, they have the right to choose to talk to people one-on-one if they want,” he said. “By making it part of the representatives’ role to go and interact in person and support grassroots initiatives and things like that, we take nothing away from the people that want to work on behind the scenes governance related things.”

When asked about whether or not the candidates support protesting against tuition hikes by Ermia Rezaei-Afsah, the current faculty of arts representative and vice-president student life candidate, Morsette outlined the efforts she’s been making in her current role that go outside her responsibilities.

“I have organized student strikes, I have been a part of grassroots movements, I have continued to do that while on the Students’ Union, including on the bounds of my position,” she said. “I pushed the boundaries working with my fellow executives to find ways that we can empower students on the ground, even though the Students’ Union itself as an organization cannot call a strike.”

In response to a question from the Gauntlet regarding how Hendi plans on supporting grassroots organizations on campus, he simply wants to join them.

“There are all sorts of different groups that are working on all sorts of different initiatives, and it would be important for me to prioritize joining these groups rather than taking on their struggles for the Students’ Union.”

In their closing statements, Hendi highlights one of his major points of advocating for a tuition freeze rather than for more affordable and predictable tuition. 

“I believe that what sets me apart and why I believe you should vote for me is that my platform is rethinking, not just what we advocate for, which I think isn’t really a question this year, what we advocate for has to be lower tuition, better affordability, better academic resources.”

For her clothing statement, Morsette took the opportunity to highlight her strengths as a candidate compared to her competitor. 

“Can my opponent even provide any evidence of their time in office, being paid a full salary on student dollars? We both have been vice-presidents, and yet, I have a laundry list of achievements ranging from media stories on prominent student issues all the way to the creation of student friendly policies by the institution,” she said. “I have already been sitting at the very tables and negotiating for you, my peers, that my opponent claims to have built relationships with these counterparts.

“My opponent thinks that he can lead our organization as president while doing the same thing he did while in office — barely the minimum,” said Morsette. 

All undergraduate students may vote for one of the two candidates for PRESIDENT or ABSTAIN from voting.

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