Tolulope Oginni (Photo Credit: UPEISU)
With COVID-19 ongoing, Tolulope Oginni is expecting the unexpected during her short tenure as the UPEI Student Union president.
â€œMy mind is prepared towards thinking it wouldnâ€™t be a smooth year ahead,â€ Oginni said.
The 3rd year Business Administration major is from Nigeria. She worked as the policy and research coordinator for the UPEISU this summer.
It was during that time she developed an admiration for the UPEISU team, she said.
â€œI saw how they were able to tackle a lot of things in this COVID year [such as] advocate for funding, and for students to come back to the Island.â€
Oginni assumed the position of SU president following the resignation of her predecessor, Brian Affouan.
She said she has spoken with Affouan, and her goal is continuity of his work.
â€œ[During the summer] I listened to what they [the SU] were looking to do throughout the academic year and Iâ€™m looking to continue that.â€
One of her priorities would be enhancing the mental health services offered by the UPEISU.
She said the services have been more crucial than ever this year.
â€œWe really have a good mental health system so far, but Iâ€™m willing to provide more resources.â€
A recent survey of 1,131 UPEI students showed that 63 percent of them have struggled with mental health issues this term. Only 13.7 percent reported they have used the schoolâ€™s mental health services.
Oginni said she also seeks to promote engagement from international students.
â€œWe donâ€™t really see a lot of engagement from the international community [at UPEI], compared to domestic students.â€
However, she said she is impressed with the high level of engagement from international students this year and believes more should look to pursue student positions.
â€œBeing a student, you arenâ€™t restricted to be engaged based on your ethnicity or race.”
As for the term ahead, Oginni said she is well aware of the situation she is coming into.
â€œItâ€™s a surprising year. We donâ€™t know what to expect whenever,â€ she said.
â€œIâ€™m quite aware that this position isnâ€™t going to be as it was other years. Things arenâ€™t going to be as rosy.â€
Regardless of the challenges, maximum effort from the president is needed more than ever this year, she said.
â€œI donâ€™t think in any year people have shouted more about making their needs granted, than this year,â€ Oginni said.
â€œA 100 percent effort is really required this year.â€
Oginniâ€™s predecessor and former president, Brian Affoun, agrees with her.
Affoun believes that the SUâ€™s leadership requires nothing but a 100 percent effort.
When he felt he may not be able to offer that, he stepped down.
He said making the decision to do so was hard, but it was best for everyone.
â€œIt [being president] was becoming very difficult to manage,â€ he said.
â€œIâ€™d like to think it was the best decision, especially as COVID-19 put us to it.â€
Affoun said his obligations as the SU president interfered with his schooling in ways he didnâ€™t foresee.
Nevertheless, he enjoyed his short tenure as the SU president, he said.
â€œI loved the position itself, I donâ€™t regret a single part of being president.â€
Affoun said heâ€™s willing to help Oginni adjust to her new role.
â€œItâ€™s a hard position, but Iâ€™ll be here to support if possible.â€
Having good time management skills is a necessity, he said.
â€œBeing able to manage your time becomes a quintessential skill one must have while at this position.â€
His best advice for her is to not be afraid to ask the SU team and staff for help when necessary, he said.
â€œEvery single one of them is an incredible resource and wealth of knowledge.â€
As for Oginni, she said she is honoured and thankful to the students for electing her.
â€œThe students trusting me to advocate for them is a huge trust. Itâ€™s something I am grateful for.â€
Affouan resigned from the UPEISU presidency on Oct. 25, and a by-election for the position was held from Nov. 17-18.
Oginni was sworn in during the UPEI SUâ€™s last council meeting on Nov. 22.