SFSS Board of Directors 2019 Candidate Questions

It’s that time of year – the SFSS Board of Directors elections!

In order to equip SFU students with essential information they need to participate and vote in the 2019 SFSS elections, the Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group (SFPIRG), Students of Caribbean & African Ancestry (SOCA), and the Tuition Freeze Now Campaign have all prepared questions for all of the candidates about their position on ongoing campus issues that affect YOU!.

Make sure you vote in the SFSS elections! Be an informed voter. Voting dates are March 19th, 20th, and 21st, 2019. You should receive instructions via your SFU Mail on how to vote electronically. For more information about the election, please visit the SFSS Elections website.

For a list of all candidates and their platforms, please visit the SFSS Candidate Platforms 2019 page.

The following questions and answers are provided solely for informational purposes and do not constitute an endorsement. SFPIRG does not and will not endorse any particular candidate.

Here’s what the candidates had to say about the six questions…

Question 1 (SFPIRG)

SFPIRG and SOCA face imminent eviction by the SFSS upon completion of the new Student Union Building, and have been denied long-term organizational space in the SUB. Previous SFSS Boards led SFU, SFPIRG, SOCA, and the rest of the campus community, to believe that ALL of the Rotunda Student Communities would be housed in the organizational suites in the SUB. In fact, despite claiming they made no agreements in writing, the lease between SFU and the SFSS for the SUB states that:

“… the Society will permit the Premises to be used only as, a social, recreational, administrative and service centre for the relaxation, enjoyment and service of members of the University community, and more particularly, only for the purposes of:

(i) offices for the Society and other non-profit organizations whose primary function is to serve students of the University”

Instead, the SFSS Board has chosen to implement a “shared space model.” We’ve seen elsewhere that implementing a “shared space model” only further isolates students who already face systemic marginalization – and dispersing student community through the “shared space model” will only harm these same marginalized student communities.

If elected, will you stand up for marginalized student communities, and stand up for equity and diversity at SFU, by putting forward a motion (and voting YES) to reverse the current SFSS Board’s “shared space model” decision and to provide organizational space in the SUB to ALL of the Rotunda Student Groups? (YES/NO)

“YES”:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance)

“NO”:

  • No candidates responded “no” to this question.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

Question 2 (SFPIRG)

The decision on the part of the current SFSS Board to evict SFPIRG and SOCA is a drastic departure from the SFSS’s historical relationships with the grassroots student organizations that serve the same student population. This decision is a symptom of systemic problems within the SFSS’s governance structure.

These problems stem from a governance policy framework that:

  • takes power away from student leaders;
  • reduces transparency and accountability to membership;
  • invests improper power in management;
  • eliminates opportunities for undergraduate student engagement and involvement in all levels of decision-making;
  • and withholds and hides important legal information to which the SFSS’s membership is entitled.

These problems have harmed student communities by:

  • actively disenfranchising students from marginalized communities and discouraging them from participating in the SFSS;
  • harming long-standing relationships with many, many campus stakeholders who all serve the same membership;
  • obscuring the actions and intentions of the SFSS throughout the development and management of the BuildSFU project;
  • and cultivating a general mistrust in the SFSS and its actual care for SFU students.

If elected, how will you collaborate with the Rotunda Student Groups to develop policies that not only redress the harm caused by previous SFSS Boards and management, but that also seek to address the ongoing systemic injustices faced by marginalized student communities (e.g. racism, sexism, classism, etc.)?

Candidate Answers:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
    • I will do my best to meet up with thier leadership groups on what I hope to be a bi-weekly basis to get updates. In these updates, I hope to create solutions that both the SFSS and Rotunda Student Groups can agree on. I will also keep my email (apa74@sfu.ca) open to anyone with concerns and do my best to give clear answers to questions.
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
    • If elected as VP for External Relations I will ensure that there is an open and transparent communication between SFSS and the various student groups on campus. Under the previous SFSS Board, we have witnessed that open communication has been limited and sometimes lacking. As such, I will push for sufficient and meaningful consultation before the Board passes any major decisions which have the potential of drastic impacts on the cohesion of campus life. As chair of the Advocacy Committee, I will ensure that the committee is engaging thoroughly with student groups to identify areas of interests and pain points of student life on campus.
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
    • SAYING NO TO ROTUNDA GROUP EVICTIONS
      I will immediately motion to allocate space in the SUB for all Rotunda Student Groups. The opportunities and services that the various Rotunda groups offer is far too valuable to be discarded. The Rotunda provides support and information to everyone, but also seeks to raise awareness of systematic barriers uniquely faced by marginalized students. I value equity, diversity, and inclusion, and therefore I will continue supporting the Rotunda community with the resources made available through the SFSS.COMMIT TO EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION
      As I have learned from my active involvement in PIRG and SOCA, a critical problem with the current method of governing is the lack of communication and bad faith negotiating with student groups. As VP Student Life, one of my most important roles will be to liaison between SFSS and student groups like clubs, DSUs, and Rotunda groups. I wish to consult, and regularly follow-up, with all advocacy and activist groups on campus to ask how SFSS can best support them. I am aware that groups like these contribute great service, but lack appropriate funds and promotion. I wish to tackle these issues early on in my year of service because protection and empowerment of marginalized communities is always a priority.ESTABLISH A STUDENT ADVOCACY OFFICE
      I want to establish a Student Advocacy Office, where students can submit complaints about SFU to the Student Society. Students could bring up things like accessibility issues regarding construction, unpredictable snow-day procedures, noise pollution during class hours, safety concerns, etc. Not only will undergraduates be able to raise their important issues, SFSS will pressure SFU on behalf of students and can provide opportunity to mobilize students if needed.
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
    • I want to educate our community on the differences between “equality” and “equity”. I recognize that these are marginalized student communities who are fighting back against an oppressive management. If elected, I will bring equity to the future policies developed and I will ensure that old policies in the name of equality will cease to harm the student communities that need our support the most.
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
    • I will collaborate with the Student Groups in the Rotunda Community by building solidarity with the community. Redressing the wrongs of past boards, recognizing and taking ownership of the situation and letting all these groups know that we are all student facing organizations who are advocating for students. It is groups like these that foster community building and that helps advocacy efforts that the SFSS needs to pay attention to and actually partake in. I want all the societies and collectives to have a trial ‘guild of student societies’ where we can all come together and share our concerns and help gain consensus on how we go forward with a solidarity-based approach to our relationships. All having a seat at the table where we can sit and talk, undo the harm, and find out how we may include the voices of groups to create equitable operations and practices within the SFSS via equity working groups etc.
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
    • I will be working closely with SOCA, FNSA, the Women’s Centre and will advocate for them (like I already am). I will be opposed to evicting them and I want to give them (and the rotunda community) space in the new SUB.
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
    • As a former First Nations Student Association (FNSA) Student Representative, I have witnessed instances of a lack of governance and support from the SFSS for marginalized student groups within the Rotunda. Many of these issues stem from an unwillingness on the part of the SFSS to listen to these marginalized groups and believe them at face value for the issues and injustices they describe. As an elected science representative for the SFSS, I will consult with the Rotunda groups and work with them to develop a report on the historical and current issues and injustices they face. This report will then be made public along with proposed referendum questions to rectify the fractured relationships between the SFSS and Rotunda groups. The structure within the mandate of the SFSS currently does not adequately support marginalized groups on campus. By proposing questions during a referendum, we will be able to reform the mandate and update its policies to better support marginalized groups.
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
    • The Rotunda groups have historically been a valuable part of SFU student life and culture, fighting for many marginalized groups, as well as educating students of a more privilleged position on the inequity still rampant on campus. If elected, I would look to work with fellow board members, as well as Rotunda groups to work on re-implementing a number of anti-discrimination policies within the SFSS to prevent such blatant neglect from occurring in the future of our society. I would also like to work with these groups to help educate the entire SFU student populace as to the reasons why we should continue having these policies, with my role being help educate the Faculty of Environment students.
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
    • The actions of the SFSS Board of Directors in their engagement with rotunda groups such as SOCA and SFPIRG regarding space in the Student Union Building (SUB) have been a disappointment to many students here at SFU. Considering that some of the Rotunda groups have been serving students on campus for decades, to evict them without promise of any long-term organizational space is unacceptable.If elected to the SFSS Board of Directors, I will work to not only mend the fractured relationships between the SFSS and the Rotunda groups, but I will also become an ally and resource to them. I will always advocate for the rights of marginalized students to exist and have their communities on campus, and I will remain open to suggestions and requests from student groups on how to make our campus safer for everybody. As a solution, the SFSS needs to reverse the suggested “shared space model”, extend the subleases of all the Rotunda groups until the SUB is built, and provide them with long-term spaces to continue serving our communities.Students here at SFU also deserve a student advocacy office to help student appeals not only regarding academic affairs, but also any kind of harassment or oppression students might face on campus. Many schools (BCIT, UBC and even SFU GSS) have their own student-based advocacy groups to act as a mediator between school administration and students. Our student advocacy office will be a resource for students facing any type of difficulties, including and not limited to complaints about staff or peers, violations of Student Conduct policy, and concerns about discrimination, harassment and safety.In a nutshell, if elected I will work directly with student organizations to come to a long-term solution to the student space crisis by pushing for an extension of all subleases of the Rotunda groups and allocation of organizational suites for all groups currently residing in the rotunda #BLACKSpacesMatter #
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
    • Policies that respect all parties during communication with the Rotunda community must be developed. One of the biggest aspects lacking from the SFSS’s end this past year has been shared communication and open collaboration with Rotunda groups rather than formalized meetings that generally spark a power imbalance between the SFSS and marginalized student communities. For example, Rotunda student groups have constantly mentioned that they feel belittled when SFSS board members and executives set controlled formalized meetings with one-sided agendas rather than working together.
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
    • The first step would be to open a dialogue and understand exactly what hardships each group is facing. Without communication, you can’t get anywhere. From there we can work on policies that protect our fellow students in a collaborative manner. The board should be representing the students interests, not harming them. Nothing can happen without first meeting and listening to the needs of the students. I’m very interested in bringing back policies that address discrimination that were removed in 2015/16.
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
    • My first step to collaboration is to build a relationship with the individuals encompassing the Rotunda space. By putting their concerns and interests first, I want to learn about their side of this space issue and address where the current board misstepped. I will use this information to collaborate with the university and the Rotunda Student Groups to discuss a solution that meets the needs of all parties involved. The Rotunda groups are significant in the SFU community and foster a sense of home and belonging for the individuals who are involved with them. These groups can be an integral part of the SFU experience for students and the SFSS needs to do better to handle this concern and listen to the needs of their constituency.
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
    • I have personally seen the marginalized groups and the rotunda community be ignored over the last few years as I have been heavily involved with said communities. I have seen how people in authority have consistently turned a blind eye when folks from these communities tried to extend an olive branch.
      If elected, I would like to first find out as to why there hasn’t been better communication between the SFSS and the community. I would then like to start the communication and start building a steadier foundation between the board and these group to insure that this form of miscommunication(for lack of a better term) isn’t continued.
      I would also like to do consultations as frequently as reasonably possible as I believe that it is unfair to make unilateral discussions about a community without their input.
      I stand firmly with marginalized groups, not just the groups that I belong to, but all of them. We can’t progress as a society if we don’t help everyone. This is about equity. Helping people who need it. Standing up for what’s correct.
      I have been doing my best to help marginalized student communities for as long as I have been in Canada, and I want to continue to do so if elected.
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
    • I’m a minority student myself, so only a person wearing the shoes knows where it hurts. I will work to prioritize the safety of all marginalized groups on campus, giving them space to be bigger & better than they are now.
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance
    • It is important to invite all the Rotunda groups to the table, and discuss all concerns and come to a consensus that benefits all student interests. The SFSS “is formed by the students and is for the students,” and should satisfy the interests of all student groups equitably.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

Question 3 (SOCA)

Do you think SOCA should be allocated an organizational suite to continue serving the Black Community in the New Student Union Building? (YES/NO)

“YES”:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance)

“NO”:

  • No candidates responded “no” to this question.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

Question 4 (SOCA)

If you get elected, would you work with SOCA to help strengthen their services through funding and adequate staff to serve the Black Community on campus? (YES/NO)

“YES”:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance)

“NO”:

  • No candidates responded “no” to this question.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

Question 5 (Tuition Freeze Now)

A “tuition freeze” means:

(a) supporting a 0% increase for all students, regardless of program or status; and
(b) being willing to mobilize students into direct action if the university doesn’t listen

Do you support a tuition freeze? (YES/NO)

“YES”:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance)

“NO”:

  • No candidates responded “no” to this question.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

Question 6 (Tuition Freeze Now)

Do you support pushing the government for a tuition freeze for all students (domestic and international alike) and addressing the issue of underfunding for post-secondary education? (YES/NO)

“YES”:

  • Abhishek Parmar (Business)
  • Ali Versi (VP External Relations)
  • Balqees Jama (VP Student Life)
  • Fiona Li (FCAT)
  • Giovanni HoSang (President)
  • Jennifer Chou (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Kasey Stirling (Sciences)
  • Lex Grandan (Environment)
  • Osob Mohamed (Health Sci.)
  • Prince Cheema (VP Student Services)
  • Sheldon Bond (App. Sci.)
  • Shina Kaur (VP University Relations)
  • Simran Randhawa (VP Student Services)
  • Stephanie Chiakwelu (At-Large)
  • Tawanda Nigel Chitapi (VP Finance)

“NO”:

  • No candidates responded “no” to this question.

The following candidates did not respond to the questions by the deadline:

  • Amrita Mohar (President)
  • Andrew Wong (Business)
  • Christina Loutsik (VP Student Services)
  • Emerly Liu (Education)
  • Harman Batish (VP University Relations)
  • Jasdeep Gill (VP External Relations)
  • Jason Spence (Sciences)
  • Jessica Nguyen (VP Student Life)
  • Julian Loutsik (Environment)
  • Kia Mirsalehi (President)
  • Maneet Aujla (At-Large)
  • Nick Chubb (App. Sci.)
  • Rahul Parmar (Business)
  • Rayhaan Khan (At-Large)
  • Roopan Garcha (Health Sci.)
  • Russell Dunsford (VP University Relations)
  • Silke Billings (FCAT)
  • Simran Bining (Arts & Soc. Sci.)
  • Simran Uppal (Sciences)
  • Willson Leong (Business)

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