#CSU2014: Meet your Executive Candidates
Three Slates, Four Presidential Candidates Campaigning
Last year’s election was a “no contest” but this year’s Concordia Student Union elections are gearing up to be a free-for-all—or is it more of a team battle?
Three full teams have emerged in this campaign and the presidential race also includes an independent challenger that formerly sat on Concordia’s senate.
And for the first time in years, fine arts students have representatives running—there are three—and the field of councillor candidates across all faculties has ballooned to 36.
Arts and Science candidates, as per usual, make up the largest group with 21 of the 36 candidates. Engineering and computer science will have six representatives to vote from, with another five candidates in the running to represent John Molson students.
Community Matters and Experience CSU both feature many familiar faces from around the union, but opponent CSUnited is made up of newcomers to the world of the CSU. Instead, their candidates are made up of members of the fraternity and sorority system on campus and other clubs, like the Concordia Canadian Asians Society.
The candidates of the three teams will face off with each other as well as two independent candidates running for positions. Chuck Wilson, a longtime student representative at the CSU, Concordia Senate and the Engineering and Computer Science Association, has thrown his hat into the ring, giving students another choice for president outside of the team-fielded candidates.
Arts and Science student Michael Abbott is also seeking the VP Sustainability portfolio. He will face off against CSUnited’s Bailey Watson, Jessica Cabana of Community Matters and Experience CSU’s Toshimi Jan Losos.
Referendum questions that will decide the future of fee levies at Concordia and grant increases to a handful of groups are also proposed.
The Link caught up with your presidential candidates and team leaders to give you the inside track to the elections.
Chuck Wilson, CSU President
Chuck Wilson currently represents engineering and computer science students on the Concordia Student Union council. He is the former VP Finance of the Engineering and Computer Science Association and a former Concordia senator, and ran for CSU VP Academic and Advocacy in 2012.
“After seeing all this tension from both sides and my role that I’ve had over the years straddling the divide between left and right, I thought it was a really natural decision to go for president,” said Wilson.
“One thing that makes the CSU unique is its status as an accredited student association. It has a really proactive role it can play in academic issues,” he continued, noting the union has a tendency to focus on social advocacy instead.
Since several fee-levy groups already have advocacy mandates, he sees these groups, along with faculty and departmental associations, having a “symbiotic” relationship with the union.
“A shift towards that kind of direction where the CSU is a coordinating body would really benefit all of the students across the entire university,” said Wilson.
CSUnited is the most diverse team in the running this year, with candidates fielded from every faculty except engineering and computer science. The team is led by Jon Kim, president of both Concordia’s Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity and the Concordia Canadian Asians Society.
A part of the CSUnited platform, which includes plans to ensure student space like Reggie’s bar is easily accessible and affordable for students to rent out for student group functions, is to offer students representatives more in tune with their needs.
“The reason why this team was formed is because usually the CSU is run by, I’d say, established student politicians, whereas we’re engaged community members,” said Kim.
“I think it’s about time we stepped up and had a voice in [the CSU] community. I feel like we understand the students’ needs a bit more because we are the students and we’ve been a part of these smaller organizations.
“So, it’s time to change things up a little.”
- Jon Kim, President
- Mareike Barbara Michele, VP Academic and Advocacy
- Simon Dansereau, VP Clubs and Internal
- Charles-Eric Kirihara Sum, VP Student Life
- Mathieu Guertin-Banton, VP External and Mobilization
- Bailey Watson, VP Sustainability
- Alicia Chan, VP Finance
- Niki Yalicxa Fonseca St-Cyr, VP Loyola
Experience CSU is made up of John Molson School of Business and arts and science students, headed by presidential candidate Melissa Payette.
Payette is a JMSB student and the president of CASA Cares, the not-for-profit arm of the Commerce and Administration Students’ Association.
“Experience CSU is committed to working for ideals that matter to all faculties, such as uniting our campuses, innovating for academic success, maintaining financial sustainability and improving student space,” said Payette.
Incumbent VP Finance Scott Carr is running under the Experience CSU banner. Another face familiar to Concordia Student Union council meetings on the slate is Maylen Cytryn, who was elected as a JMSB councillor last November and is running for VP Clubs.
“We plan to engage with students and explain what we can build together, as well as how they can benefit from participating in the election and having us as their student union,” said Payette.
- Melissa Payette, President
- Cameron Hogg-Tisshaw VP Academic and Advocacy
- Maylen Cytryn, VP Clubs and Internal
- Sabrina Jorrin, VP Student Life
- Kristina Rourke, VP External and Mobilization
- Toshimi Jan Losos, VP Sustainability
- Scott Carr, VP Finance
- Alex McCulloch, VP Loyola
Community Matters features many well-known faces around the CSU as well as from sustainability and campus food projects at Concordia. Presidential candidate Benjamin Prunty currently serves as CSU VP Sustainability and is a member of the Concordia Food Coalition, as are Community Matters candidates for VPs Loyola and Student Life, Gabriel Velasco and Charles Bourassa, respectively.
According to Prunty, the CSU continually has a problem with maintaining institutional memory, which hinders major projects from continuing year to year.
With new co-ops being developed to open student-run cafés at both of Concordia’s campuses, as well as Concordia’s food service contract with supplier Chartwells up for renegotiation, Prunty says he does not want the union’s major headway to be lost after only a year.
“I’m really involved with the food systems projects right now. [The student-run co-op initiative] in particular is timely and there’s a lot of momentum happening around it right now,” he said.
“There’s a lot of potential for follow-through if you have the right executive team [in place] for the following year and I think that our team definitely has that potential, because a lot of us have done a lot of work on food projects in the past and other [candidates] have a diversity of involvement with other projects.”
- Benjamin Prunty, President
- Terry Wilkings, VP Academic and Advocacy
- Katherine Bellini, VP Clubs and Internal
- Charles Bourassa, VP Student Life
- Anthony Garoufalis-Auger, VP External and Mobilization
- Jessica Cabana, VP Sustainability
- Heather Nagy, VP Finance
- Gabriel Velasco, VP Loyola
- Michael Abbott, VP Sustainability
This article originally appeared in The Link Volume 34, Issue 24, published March 11, 2014.
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