Arts and Science Students Heading to the Polls
15 Candidates Seeking Executive Position in ASFA Elections
A bumper crop of candidates is running for the seven executive positions in the Arts and Science Federation of Associations’ elections taking place from March 4 to March 6.
“I don’t recall a year where there were so many candidates running,” said ASFA chief electoral officer Trevor Wilkinson.
In past years, the seven executive positions at ASFA mostly went uncontested with voter turnout ranging from 1 to 3 per cent of the 15,000 or so undergrads in the faculty of arts and science.
This year, 15 candidates are running for executive positions—two of which are going uncontested—and eight students are in the race for the five independent councillor positions. Current president Paul Jerajian and VP Social Affairs Sean Nolan are seeking re-election.
Jerajian said arts and science undergrads voted in the faculty association’s November byelections to modify ASFA’s bylaws in order to allow online polling, and the expectation was that online polling would be in place for the general elections as long as the voting system was functional.
However, ASFA’s council voted to not implement electronic voting this spring and decided instead to form a committee to research the possible repercussions of online voting, he said.
“[Council] didn’t ban it completely, they just weren’t ready to try it this time because there wasn’t enough dialogue between students and ASFA and there weren’t, from my understanding, enough policies regarding electronic voting,” he said.
Here is what some of the candidates have to say about what they would hope to accomplish should they be elected.
Paul Jerajian has been involved in ASFA for the past two years, first as VP External and Sustainability and then, last year, as president. “It took three or four months to get familiar with the position so I had to put some projects on the backburner,” said Jerajian. Some of those projects include a portal to connect skilled students with people needing specific skills for projects, an electronic voting system and working on ways to improve communication between students and governing bodies.
VP Internal Affairs
Jenna Cocullo has been involved in student organizations like CUTV and The Concordian. Now in her third year at the university, she says running in the election is “an important next step to make change at the school, to get involved politically. […] I want students to become aware of the impact they can have on the environment around them and I feel that the best way to do so is to encourage [member associations] to reach out to the students who are under their umbrella,” Cocullo said.
From a small town north of Toronto, Kabeya-Honeyglow says he’d like to see ASFA become “more integrated into the city,” with more events planned for students in Montreal, and for ASFA to be “part of the Montreal community.”
Veronic Godbout is a councillor for the Concordia Association for Students in English and is a third-year English literature student. Godbout would like to improve the recognition and independence of member associations by potentially helping them obtain accreditation so that they can become their own corporations. “There would be a lot of research that would need to be done, but it’s something I’d like to look into,” she said. “If they’re achieving their full potential by achieving their goals, it would also reflect well on ASFA.”
Pauline Sarah Pfingsten
Interested in bettering relationships between ASFA and the organizations under its umbrella, Pfingsten says she experienced first-hand how communication between member associations and ASFA can be “not ideal” while working at a film festival. She is in her second year, pursuing an anthropology and sociology specialization with a minor in Arabic culture.
Melina Ghio already has a background in finance, having worked for various financial institutions, and says she would like to apply her knowledge to student life. She is also on various committees, including ASFA’s ad hoc investment and electronic voting committees. “I may be in a human science program,” she said, “but I would like to combine that with my financial background at ASFA.”
Parisa Mehrabi currently holds ASFA’s secretary position and has worked for several non-profit organizations like the MultiCaf food bank in Côte-des-Neiges. “I would like to use that experience to better ASFA,” said the second-year economics major.
A Concordia Student Union councillor and member of the CSU’s Loyola, human resources and student life committees, Justin Caruso says he would like to increase event participation and improve communication with member associations, “giving them the attention they need and [working] on collaborative events.” He says his experience on the various committees and working on the CSU fall Orientation have pushed him to get more involved.
Haroon Mohar is a second-year English major with a minor in history. Mohar was VP External at his CEGEP’s student association, where he organized many events, and would like to bring that experience to ASFA by working for “their success to the best of my abilities,” according to Mohar’s biography on the ASFA website.
Tiffany Thompson is in her second semester in human relations at Concordia, but also has a public relations certificate from McGill under her belt. “I think that experience will definitely help with the position at ASFA. I’d like to find more ways to reach out to students by utilizing social media,” she said. One of the ways she’d like to do so is by making 15-second videos to announce events.
Incumbent VP Social Sean Nolan participated in a number of initiatives at the university, including the inauguration of Concordia’s outdoor skating rink at the Loyola campus. He says he would like to continue what he started and wants to focus on hosting more academic events. “I think a lot of our events involve drinking and they don’t really have to,” said Nolan.
Farhana Jumki Haque
A first-year double-major at the School of Community and Public Affairs and in political science, Farhana Jumki Haque says she is “in the same shoes as first-year students” and knows what matters to them. She also speaks five languages, which she says, on the ASFA website, promotes diversity. She is also set to become a “certified leader” after completing Concordia’s 18-hour Leadership Workshop Series.
VP External and Sustainability
Charles Bourassa is a third-year student at the Liberal Arts College. He is a CSU councillor and is involved with a number of student organizations. He would like to carry over projects he is currently working on to ASFA, like a rideshare program, a workshop where students can build a 3-D printer and a bike workshop. He is also interested in involving ASFA in some of the food initiatives on campus.
Damian Skulic is a second-year biophysics major and lover of the arts and travel, according to his biography on the ASFA website. He says he wants to do his best to make Concordia more sustainable and improve student life by increasing the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables available on campus, for example.
VP Academic and Loyola
This CSU councillor is in her third year studying at Loyola while working on a specialization in psychology. Martone says she knows the campus well and is “very interested in the Hive project,” which will bring a student-run café co-op to the Loyola campus. She would like to move the once-a-semester free coffees and midnight breakfast to once a month, if feasible. On the academic side, Martone says she would like to organize a debate series.
Voting will take place on the first floor of the Hall Building and in the lobby of the LB building at the SGW campus and in the VL lobby and SP atrium at the Loyola campus on March 4, 5 and 6 between 10 a.m. and 8 p.m.