Jack Stebbing

Jack Stebbing

Jack Stebbing.

What is your current year and program? I am a third-year student studying international relations.

What is your favourite campus eatery? Nothing beats The Spoke.

Why are you running for senator this year?

Academic policy is an area with a tremendous amount of influence on students' experiences here at Western, and recent changes in the political landscape of Ontario have made it more important than ever to get involved.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western? How do you hope to mitigate this?

The announced cuts towards OSAP, as well as opt-out student fees, have the potential to radically alter the student experience here at Western. As a student body, we are still unsure as to what the exact effects and ramifications of these changes are going to be. The most important thing for each and every one of us to do is, in my mind, to advocate for one another and support student organizations like the Western Student Senators, University Students' Council and Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance as they lobby on our behalf.

As a senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

Missed academic work relief, maximum weightings of final exams and a course registration waitlist.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

I have had the pleasure of serving as a councillor representing the Faculty of Social Science on the University Students' Council since March. As an elected representative, I have gained valuable experience working with students, executives and staff within the university in pursuit of the interests of my constituents. I believe that I will bring this experience with me into the Senate and that it will allow me to work with the Western Student Senators in advocating on behalf of Western students.

Jaya Scott

Jaya Scott

Jaya Scott.

What is your current year and program? Third year, international relations.

What is your favourite campus eatery? The Spoke! Their London Fogs are great.

Why are you running for senator this year?

I ran for Senate in my first year, and I learned a lot about Senate and the power it has to affect students. I love the Faculty of Social Science, and I hope to engage with and empower student voice.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western?

The provincial government's changes to tuition, OSAP and ancillary fees.

How do you hope to mitigate this?

If elected, I would carefully examine all proposals of Senate to deal with the loss of university income. I would like to create a working group that ensures that budget cuts do not unfairly target some faculties or programs and would work to inform Western students of the discussions and considerations of Senate on this matter.  

As Senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

I think Student Senators need to improve their engagement with the student body. Three specific ways I would like to address this are:

1. Improve collaboration with faculty councils and the USC.

2. Reach out to specific student groups who are impacted by specific Senate policies.

3. Revitalize data collection and approach to research.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

I am running because I think I have the right combination of a passion for student advocacy, commitment and diligence in consulting and listening to my fellow students, and diplomatic tact to deal with faculty and administration. I believe that with these qualities, I can listen to and amplify student voice.

Laura Bot

Laura Bot

Laura Bot.

What is your current year and program? I’m a third-year student studying consumer behaviour and history.

What is your favourite campus eatery? The Spoke!

Why are you running for senator this year?

I’ve become invested in academic policies and broadening the reach of student politics through my involvement in faculty and residence councils at Western, and I believe that I can bear that responsibility for Social Science students.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western? How do you hope to mitigate this?

I believe that the biggest challenge for Western students are the institutions working against them. With the OSAP cuts and the implementation of Sunday exams, student wellness is being cut across the board with the justification of “efficiencies." To mitigate the challenge of policies being implemented that do not advocate for students’ best interests, I hope to be a strong representative for what students need and believe in while changes like these examples that do not represent students’ best interests and wellness continue to come up in academic policies.

As a senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

My three campaign pillars are engagement, interest and wellness. I hope to broaden the engagement of student politics beyond the inner circle of students who are actively interested in these issues and want to bridge the gap between students and the Senate. I want to spark interest for students by providing what social science students want by listening to their concerns and ideas and communicating with students as much as possible. Lastly, I wish to bring forward wellness-centric ideas to make Western a university where students are excited to learn and get involved, as well as to mitigate the high levels of stress and anxiety involved with being a student.

Mac Grenier 

What is your current year and program? I am currently in my fourth year at Western and will be returning next year in economics.

What is your favourite campus eatery? My favourite place to grab food is The Spoke. Shout out to mushroom Swiss with roasted red pepper.

Why are you running for senator this year?

I am running for senator this year because I want to be able to spread awareness of the issues that Senate are tackling.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western?

Currently, the biggest challenge facing students is the uncertainty that arose last week with the Ontario PCs announcement of tuition cuts. While it might seem to benefit students on the surface it could leave many current students with issues in funding and could impact the quality of education at Western if alternate streams of revenue are not found.

How do you hope to mitigate this?

I think it is naive to think that one student could have a solution. At best, we as Student Senators can help to research methods to keep the quality of education at Western at a similar level to what it was, as well as ensuring that students are not unfairly passed the burden of maintaining it.

As senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

Eliminate unengaging open office hours for senators in favour of more open contact through social media and email, and to foster more discussion within council meetings, not simply provide updates.

Push for earlier grade release. There often arises a situation in which a student needs to know the grade of a prerequisite course so that they can ensure they can take the followup course. If these grades are released into the second semester, it can cause students undue stress and stress on academic counselling while students figure out if they need to switch courses and what they should consider switching into.

Receive feedback and work to optimize the course waitlist system that will be piloted this summer. Students are often left in the dark as to whether a course is at all accessible or if they should be considering alternatives. The course waitlist system that will be tried this summer must be optimized through student feedback to ensure that it is the solution that works for them.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

I feel as though I am one of the best candidates for this position because of my experience in analyzing policy and speaking on council floor. Having got the chance to be a USC councillor in my third year and now the VP Events on the Social Science Students’ Council, I have grown comfortable with speaking my mind and bringing discussion about within the council. With plans to dedicate my extracurricular time fully to Senate, if elected, I would hope to be strongly active in any research initiatives and in engaging with the student body.

Manraj Khurana

Manraj Khurana

Manraj Khurana.

What is your current year and program?

I’m in my third year of the integrated sciences program with an honors specialization in biology.

What is your favourite campus eatery?

I lived in O-Hall my first year at Western, and I still miss the salmon sushi they used to serve in the cafeteria. Definitely the O-Hall cafeteria.

Why are you running for senator this year?

I have participated in student politics for a long time, and I enjoy it. I am currently the speaker for the Science Students’ Council. The role of speaker is nice, but it’s very administrative in its portfolio and responsibilities. I want to take on a more proactive role in shaping the student experience at Western. I was naturally drawn to the science senator's portfolio and its overview.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western?

Work/Life balance has always been the root of my problems, and from my consultations with the science constituency, it seems like it’s on everyone’s minds. It seems like every year the competition for scholarships, internships, etc., gets more intense, so everyone does a mad scramble to find things to gain work or volunteer experience. Because of this, important self-care time is sacrificed, like getting sufficient sleep, exercise, nutrition, etc. It’s even worse with the new cuts to OSAP; now there’s a sizeable portion of students who’ll have trouble to make ends meet, so they’ll have to juggle having a  part-time job with school, extracurricular clubs, athletics, etc. It gets to be a lot, and students report feeling burnt out because there’s too much on their plates.

How do you hope to mitigate this?

I hope to serve on the SCAPA committee, it deals with academic policy and awards. There is a subcommittee for the undergraduate academic experience called SUPR-U that reviews all the undergraduate programs and their policies. I strive to advocate for students within Senate meetings and hope to add student perspective to every policy consideration. By adding student perspective, my hope is that undue burden or policy decisions that look good on board, but in application would be disastrous, will be avoided.

As senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

My first initiative is to involve the registrar in a greater capacity in setting midterm exam dates, like they do for finals. My second initiative involves collaborating with Science Students’ Council in a more integrated manner to expand the current outreach of Senate. Currently, senators serving on council simply provide updates of senate business. By involving department representatives and sophs in the conversation and collaborating with them on a routine basis, advocating in Senate or putting forth ideas will become more accessible for students. My third major initiative involves identifying key issues students are facing through consultations. Whether that be face to face or through an anonymous Google form submission, I want to target and isolate policy or program procedures that aren’t realistic, that aren’t working as they should or that are working to the detriment of students.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

As I am enrolled in the integrated sciences program, I have the opportunity to interact with the broader science constituency more than others. I have electives that routinely help me interact with students of different years in the department of physics, chemistry, biology, computer sciences, applied math, etc. Through these interactions, I gain perspective and insight into departmental issues that would otherwise be completely foreign to me, say if I was a med-sci student for example. This insight coupled with the fact that my competitors lack this critical avenue for dialogue with the constituency that makes me believe I am a viable candidate for the Senate.

Editor's note: This response was edited for conciseness.

Sharon Birdi

Sharon Birdi

Sharon Birdi.

What is your current year and program?

Medical sciences, year two.

What is your favourite campus eatery?

Not a big eater on campus, does Starbucks count?

Why are you running for senator this year?

After being on the Science Students’ Council for a year, I’ve realized that Senate is an extremely important body at Western, but many students are left in the dark because it’s hard to ask questions about things you do not know about in the first place. I’m running for the position in hopes that I can improve transparency between Senate and the student body.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western? How do you hope to mitigate this?

For Western students, I believe that the biggest challenge faced are exam scheduling. I hope to mitigate this by facilitating discussion around releasing exam schedules earlier and actively reevaluate the current “3 in 23 hours” midterm policy.

As a senator, what are the three most important initiatives you hope to accomplish in your term?

As senator, the most important initiative I hope to accomplish is the implementation of a syllabus database. Although some syllabuses can be found online, it can be quite difficult to navigate. I’d like to create a database where students can access up-to-date documents on courses even before enroling in a course so they can make more informed decisions earlier on.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

Being on the SSC this year, as well as my role as an Ontario Hall residence soph, I understand the issues that affect students daily, both behind closed doors and in public settings. I am well-aware of academic issues students want resolved, and I hope to use this knowledge to my advantage in creating positive change.

Vakkachen Joe

What is your current year and program?

My name is Vakkachen Joe, most people call me Vak, and I’m in first year med-sci!

What is your favourite campus eatery?

I live in Ontario Hall, so my vote definitely goes to the cafeteria there. Special shoutout to Anna the cashier who always calls everyone sweetie: you make my day.

Why are you running for senator this year?

I’m running for science senator this year because I love getting involved! I love the idea of working with faculty and representing the science students of Western. I hope to be able to make the lives of Western students easier, make our campus more fair and improve our collective academic experience.

What do you see as the biggest challenge faced by students at Western?

I think the biggest challenge faced by students at Western is unease. This is because of a lot of reasons, not all academic related, but as senator I would try to ease one aspect of the discomfort through policies I hope to promote.

How do you hope to mitigate this?

If elected as science senator, the three most important initiatives I hope to accomplish in my term are the following:

With recent decreases to grants available through OSAP, I wish to support the use of free online educational resources and implement more academic policy which alleviates the cost of university for students.

Wellness is extremely important to me. I would love to join working groups for missed work relief, and hopefully implementing a model similar to that of McMaster University’s “Relief for Missed Academic Term Work." I also want to ensure no student has to write an exam weighted more due to a missed midterm by hopefully implementing a mandatory make-up midterm policy.

Of course new policy is important, but if we do not learn from our past we’re doomed to repeat it: this is why I wish to investigate the efficacy and impact of policy such as the 3 in 23 hour exam policy, the recent introduction of Sunday midterms and assess feedback from the Fall Reading Week trial.

Why do you think you are best suited for this position?

I think I am best suited for this position because of my proven ability to be able to represent all first year science students on Science Students' Council and biochemistry club. I am an extremely passionate, dedicated and motivated individual who is ready and willing to stand up and advocate for science students: hopefully that is what you want me to do too.

Correction (5:10 p.m., Feb. 3): This article has been updated to include Vakkachen Joe, who was mistakenly left out. The Gazette apologizes for this error.

0
0
0
0
0

Liam is a News Editor at the Gazette. You can contact him at liam.afonso@westerngazette.ca, or @liamafonso on Twitter.

Comment Rules

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Defamation. No comments that appear to be defamatory, derogatory or libelous.
Be proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Comments are approved manually and may take some time to show up on the site. All comments, as long as they follow the rules above, will be approved. We encourage all viewpoints and positive discussion.

Load comments