By: Dana Chatterjee and Clint Maramag
Candidates for Student Union VP Student Life (VPSL), VP Academic-External (VPAX), and President showcased their visions and agendas as they prepare for the upcoming elections on March 8th-9th, 2022.
The following are the list of candidates per executive position:
VPSL: Fernando Torres and Anthonia Bebiem
VPAX: Iyobosa Igbineweka and David Reyes
President: Prabatha Meduri, Adam MacKenzie, and Akshay Bakshar.
For the first part of the debate, the VPSL candidates were given their questions. They had the opportunity to discuss their answers through the open forum discussion. Bebiem demonstrated understanding and serving students by emphasizing the need to go beyond just creating BIPOC events for the diverse community to integrate them in real senses. She plans to work with student bodies to host hybrid events and revamp the Clubs and Societies on campus. Hosting a market event where student businesses will display their merchandise of any category was another agenda of hers. Additionally, she spoke about the importance of mental health and her ideas for collaborating with the VPFA for advocating mental health resources.
Torres’ mission is to develop and implement ideas that promote a harmonious university life as students return to the new normal. Being a member of the BIPOC community, he resonates with the diverse community. He plans to organize events and activities to get the representation they deserve. So, he proposed providing the student body with an online platform where all their suggestions can be submitted. Furthermore, he strives to reinstate, improve, and promote events that could not be done because of the pandemic (beach-blast, Halloween Pub).
During the general discussion, both Anthonia and Fernando had great mutual ideas and solid suggestions for the student body of UPEI and further questions of their specific goals for the public.
Moving forward with the VPAX candidates, Reyes’ motto is to help others the same way he would like to be helped. He ensures to improve the tools at his disposal to assist students within and outside the university. He plans to advocate the PEI government for the housing crisis that has rendered many students in a frenzy. He also proposed holding Model United Nations and organizing fundraising events for charities. In addition to that, Reyes intends to review, improve, and promote Tools Coop.
Igbineweka strongly embraced the idea of advocating International Student support and Tuition Regulation by planning to lobby the government. She intends to voice and address student concerns by using the UPEISU Instagram to conduct surveys and collect feedback. Working with the provincial and federal government to develop solutions that improve students’ living conditions, which will provide bold proposals to meet the growing demand, is another one of her agendas.
The general discussion between the candidates involved mutual goals and shared determination concerning their platforms.
Afterward, the presidential candidates met to discuss their platform and agendas if elected. Meduri proposed four themes for her platform: part-time job connections, peer-to-peer support club, free clothing donation program, and advocacy for Truth & Reconciliation. With these prospects at hand, she believed that talking to students is crucial in reinforcing her services for everyone. She also emphasized the importance of the Student Union as a team. They act as the student’s voice in addressing important proposals for a practical university experience. Meduri stated that she would do everything to generate beneficial changes within the system.
MacKenzie wanted to emphasize the need for tackling relevant issues that current students continue to face, such as mental health, affordable housing, and international student support. MacKenzie believed that these problems require complex solutions, which he would be willing to mitigate. Additionally, MacKenzie wanted to reinforce the Student Union’s relationship with its stakeholders, the university, and students. Lastly, MacKenzie also planned to advocate for student parking and athletic fee adjustments and promote the need for fund increase for the Mawi’omi Center, along with other advocacies that students are continuously asking for.
Bakshar’s agendas rely on ‘Education & Awareness’, residential issues, and ‘Problem-Solving Sessions.’ Bakshar was a representative for the Student Union Council and wanted to use his experience to accomplish his goals for the betterment of all students. Bakshar brought up the idea of keeping students informed of how the system of the Student Council works along with the importance of transparency between its systems and student issues. Bakshar also mentioned that he would work with designated people catering to private rentals and in-campus & off-campus housing to get affordable prices for students. In his ‘Problem-Solving Sessions,’ he mentioned that this would be an opportunity for students to reach out to him personally as he tries to come up with a resolution on a given issue or direct it to another individual that could better deal with the issue.
For a more comprehensive list of all the candidate’s platforms, click here.
Overall, the open discussion between the presidential candidates revolved around specific means to accomplish their platforms. There was also a question addressed revolving around the challenge of managing one’s time, considering the enormous responsibilities that a president would face. Meduri brought up the importance of experience that defines one’s capability in the long run. MacKenzie mentioned how one’s character and personality are crucial for being a leader, and one’s current responsibilities do not just define oneself. Bakshar reflected on the importance of unity and his determination to advocate necessary changes within the council for an optimal university experience.
In the end, the open forum discussion was done in a courteous manner where all candidates showed mutual respect and resolve.
Voting for the upcoming elections will happen on the 8th-9th of March! Be sure to check out the social media accounts of UPEISU for more information on how to vote! Vote wisely!