November Senate (Photo)

President Chakma speaks in front of senate, Nov. 16, 2018.

Faculty senators ensure that your voice is heard within the Senate, Western University's main governing body for academic policy. Read below on how qualified the candidates are, their goals for Senate and their Spoke order.

Business/Education/Engineering/Law student senator 

Christopher Harasym

Fifth-year HBA and Law dual degree student

Christopher

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I have been the student senator representing Ivey Business School, Law, Engineering and Education for the past two years and currently serve on the University Students' Council Board of Directors.  

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

I think Western’s student senators should continue advocating for student interests by holding departments accountable for academic policy violations, making sure that policy changes for COVID-19 are fair to all students and voicing student concerns regarding issues such as Proctortrack and Navitas.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

Mushroom and swiss with garlic and herb cream cheese.

Shaurya Karky

Third-year mechanical engineering student

shaurya

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I have extensive experience on my faculty council, have served as a councillor on the USC and am currently a coordinator under the governance and finance branch of the USC. I understand that the needs of students in Ivey, Engineering, Education and Law are unique and deserve attention — incredibly high tuition, stressful professional degree programs and a need for more mental health resources, among others. If elected, I will work tirelessly to meet our needs and exceed your expectations.

What do you think the Senate should do next year?

One, faculty and instructors can unknowingly commit academic policy violations. There needs to be accountability, I ensure students are aware of their academic rights. Two, often students are unaware of how to appeal academic decisions or how to seek help. I will ensure students have support to solve academic disputes. Three, there needs to be a greater emphasis on communication and transparency of the Senate. Few students know of the Senate or [its] crucial role, I plan to change that. Lastly, I think the Senate should continue and increase the number of surveys and student consultations and follow up on those ideas.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

I enjoy a good jalapeno cheddar bagel.

Medicine and Dentistry student senator 

Margi Patel

Third-year biochemistry and cell biology student

margi

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

Throughout my years at Western, I’ve had the opportunity to interact with a diverse group of students through leadership positions within the USC clubs network and social organizations off-campus. These experiences have provided great insight into student interests, especially with concerns arising from this past year. My drive to see a change along with a growing love for advocacy, [led] to my involvement with Western student senators this year. Being on WSS, I have seen first-hand the community-wide impact of data-driven policies. With a team-based approach, I plan to make our student voice heard on the Senate floor.

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

The Western student senators have a mission statement. The statement outlines [it's our job] to make the lives of students easier with a fair campus environment and to collectively improve our academic experience. However, in the past few years, there has been a growing disconnect between our students and Western’s two governing bodies. It is so important to break down this communication barrier and actively involve students in conversations regarding academic policies. In the upcoming year, the Senate should focus on student wellness by enforcing new pandemic-friendly policies that take into account new unprecedented student obstacles.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

Even though I have had only one Spoke bagel during my time here, oops — I would still have to say everything bagel with spinach and feta cream cheese!

Science student senator

Moeiz Ahmed

Second-year medical sciences student

Moeiz

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

University is about opening your mind and it's the responsibility of the student Senate [to] craft academic policies that allow you to get involved with other opportunities to help build you into the leader that you are. My experience as an executive on the Multiple Sclerosis Western council and on my high school’s student activity council will allow me to design policies that fit your needs. I choose to have a better tomorrow, I choose to have a campus where every student is smiling, I choose to have a campus filled with spirit, what do you choose?

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

One of the most important policies that I believe Western's Senate should implement is that all courses should have flexible marking schemes. We all have those days where we have an exam or a test and don’t wake up on the right side of the bed. That’s why I believe that students should truly be given multiple chances to ensure that their course grade truly reflects their understanding. See, spirit thrives vision and vision thrives people like you. If you believe in the same vision as I do then vote for me, Moeiz Ahmed!

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

What’s The Spoke?… just kidding, I love their plain bagel! 

Kenisha Arora

First-year medical science student 

Kenisha

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?

My role as a director of our student Senate helped me gain insight into the Senate and academic policy. Being a first-year representative on the Science Students’ Council allowed me to advocate for student concerns and work with our deans to improve labs for our courses with a focus on experiential learning. Additionally, working with our university president and faculty deans on Western’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee, I have learned about the operations of making policy changes. I am excited to use my experience to listen to student concerns and influence academic policy!

What do you think the Senate should do next year?

This year, I worked with our student senators to create a “How to Academic Policy” guide to help students understand academic policy. However, these efforts need to be extended to an actual academic policy support service that not only helps us understand what an appeal is, but how to structure an email appeal, for example. In addition to resolving issues with self-reported absences, the senators should advocate for professor accountability and anonymity in the appeals process. Finally, I believe that the senators should better engage students and work with the USC to amplify efforts. 

What's your Spoke bagel order?

I would have to say jalapeno cheddar with cream cheese - you can never go wrong with it!

Maisha Fahmida

Second-year medical sciences student

maisha

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I have been involved in leadership positions in clubs like Habitat for Humanity, Neuroscience Society and the Pre-Med Society which allows me to listen and understand academic concerns from diverse groups of science students. Moreover, being a Residence Don for over 40 first-year students has equipped me with qualities for student advocacy, effective communication, and community development. [T]his year, I want to put myself in your shoes and work to reduce your academic stress. In this role, I will strive to prioritize students’ academic concerns, create initiatives to benefit students and make a real impact on students’ experience. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

While the Senate creates changes to the university's academic policies, many students do not know how to reach Senate or make their voice heard regarding academic policies. Next year, the Senate should try to increase student engagement, visibility and accessibility by employing regular social media updates and monthly students' surveys. Moreover, recognizing that the pandemic has created academic stress and concern, the senate must highlight students’ continued privacy concerns with Proctortrack and find alternative software. The Senate should also strive to streamline mental health services to have less-waiting times for students and create special pandemic mental health initiatives. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

All of them are amazing but my guilty pleasure is always jalapeno cheddar bagel with roasted red pepper cream cheese!

Samdarsh Saroya

Second-year medical sciences student 

samdarsh

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

In my first-year, I worked for [the] research and policy [branch] for the Science Student Council, where I learned how to collect student opinions in representative ways to present at council meetings to shape policies. This year, I joined the Anti-Oppression Working Group, where I work alongside students like yourselves from different faculties to identify oppression at Western and how we can fight it. Most recently, I'm a science faculty soph during a pandemic, and being able to hear my frosh voice concerns about their online university experience has made me passionate about bringing their voice to the Senate floor.

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

In terms of communication, the Senate should make it a priority to inform the student body of the progress and efforts that are made by the Senate so that students are aware their voices are being heard. The Senate should also create a working group assessing the state of our student body's mental health, as well as the accessibility to mental health resources on campus. Lastly, the Senate should address academic issues such as increased workload discrepancies by gathering data from surveys and being vocal about Proc[t]ortrack and our priority for privacy as students. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

Asiago sourdough ham and swiss Bagelwich, especially if it's being served on Broughdale [Avenue]!

Mahima Siali

Third-year physics and mathematics student

mahima

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?

I have experience with student advocacy through being the president of the Math Departmental Club, as well as being a department representative on the Science Students’ Council. These roles have also allowed me to improve other skills needed as a student senator, namely communication, leadership and organization. Additionally, I currently sit on the Educational Policy Committee, which works with the Senate, and that's given me insight into the proceedings and language of academic policy. I’ve also been a soph twice, allowing me to interact with and hear the concerns of students from a wide variety of backgrounds.

What do you think the Senate should do next year?

I think Senate should focus on making online learning more accessible and less confusing for students. I’d like to see policy or guidelines in place that recommend actions such as closed captioning on lecture videos, as well as standardize the approach to common issues such as poor internet. Other focuses for the year should be earlier syllabus release, and especially earlier release of class format, and the improvement of self-reported absences. Aside from policy, I think the Senate could work on its transparency, through more collaboration with faculty councils and more roundtable or open-house discussions for students to get involved.

What is your Spoke bagel order?

Jalapeno cheddar with roasted red, or mushroom swiss with spinach and feta if I feel like being "healthy."

Social Science student senator 

Emilie Kalaydjian

First-year BMOS student

Emilie

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

Since my time at Western started last September, I have been hired as a residence coordinator by Sick Kids Club and first-year representative for the SSSC. Additionally, I am also a rookie on the varsity softball team. Being a part of these organizations has provided me with a unique insight that will help me produce tangible results for my constituents, if elected as student senator. From the perspective of a student-athlete, and an adept member of student governance, my hope is to advocate change that my peers would like to see on campus to improve their academic experience. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

My platform is built on three components: accessibility, interaction and advocacy. If elected, I would like to push for more synchronous learning, better advertisement of student’s academic rights and, lastly, provide a more open channel of communication to make improvements our peers would like to see in their education. Additionally, Senate should also try to establish more innovative ways they can administer academic support for athletes, on online platforms such as Study Hall. Overall, if Senate can become more approachable from the perspective of the student body, it will help them generate more positive change within our education system altogether. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order?

Definitely the asiago sourdough bagel with herb and garlic cream cheese!

Pe’er Krut

First-year international relations student

pe'er

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?

I currently serve as a first-year representative on the SSSC, and I am a communications director for Western Model UN. 

What do you think the senate should do next year?

If elected, I will use my experience to adapt policy and create a fairer academic experience that better suits our new learning environment. This includes extending the add/drop deadline and advocating for instructors’ adherence to policy, even if delivery is asynchronous. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order?

Due to online learning, I have yet to try a Spoke bagel! 

Alexandra Pummer

Third-year political science student

Alexandra

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?

I have worked with local and provincial teams (Ontario Legislature) to draft, adjudicate, publish and debate policies. I’ve dedicated two classes per year to increase my professional skills and continue to learn how the policy process works. I dedicate my work to advocate for students and try to solve problems. When I’m not working on projects, I function as my friend’s personal policy translator.

What do you think the Senate should do next year?

The Senate could assess their capacity and look for ways to improve it. The senate could also plan how to increase reconciliation with the Indigenous community [at] Western. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order?

The everything bagel

Bianka Sriharan

Second-year political science and psychology student

bianka

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I’ve had many roles throughout high school and on campus, but I believe that my time on SSSC is what has best prepared me to be a student senator. Being a first-year representative gave me the opportunity to work with driven student leaders who taught me what it means to be a strong student advocate. This led me to my current role as psychology department representative. I work with both students and faculty to suggest and review changes throughout the department. This is similar to what a senator does, but on a much smaller scale. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

Of the many issues that Senate needs to address next year, the first should be increasing accessibility to Senate. Many students do not know what Senate does, who their senators are and how they can reach out for help. These are issues that can be resolved with more outreach from senators and informative communications campaigns. Communication between senators and their constituents is crucial to improving representation in student governance. Half of the battle is getting members of diverse groups elected into office, the other half is actively listening to, engaging with and including the voices of everyone.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

I like to try something new every time I go, but I always come back to asiago sourdough with roasted red pepper cream cheese!

Brescia/Huron/King’s University College student senator

Jack Chazi

Third-year Huron political science student 

jack

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?  

I am currently Huron’s USC councillor, chair of the University Affairs Standing Committee and am a member of the Anti-Gender and Sexual Based Violence working group. Through these roles and as a student, I have been able to work alongside constituents and other student leaders to identify and address policy that does not align with the needs of our student body. Additionally, I have participated in student life at all three affiliates either academically or socially. Thus, providing me a general understanding of the HBK community to build upon if elected. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year?  

I believe that one of the main goals of the Senate should be to ensure that self-reported absences are protected moving past its review in September 2021 (can be called earlier). Additionally, a review of past Senate wins would ensure that they can continue to support students, or to know if they need to be updated. Overall, the Senate also needs to increase its accessibility to students as a primary resource for concerns regarding academic policy.

What’s your Spoke bagel order?  

Jalapeno cheddar with herb and garlic cream cheese! 

Claudia Gallant

Third-year Huron political science student 

claudia

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I have had the privilege of being elected to the Huron University College Students' Council as a first-year off-campus representative, and in second year, I was the speaker of the HUCSC. Through the HUCSC, I was able to start the Huron debate team in my first year and I have been a Huron soph for the past two years. In addition to on-campus experiences, I was elected as the Western representative to the London Youth Advisory Council in second year. These positions have helped me learn how to be a more effective leader and student advocate. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

If elected, I would work to do the following: One, advocate for in-person classes for fall 2021. If we [must be] online again, or blended, then there must be a consistent standard for all class delivery, to ensure students are getting the benefits of online learning. Two, review the accessibility and safety of Western and affiliate campuses to ensure students can safely attend their classes. Three, advocate for an additional Senate position to represent the affiliates so that each college can be represented equally. Lastly, advocate for in-person convocation for the graduating class of 2022.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

My go-to order is the BLT on a cheddar herb bagel!

Siddharth Maheshwari

Second-year Huron governance, leadership and ethics and gender studies student 

siddharth

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

In the Huron community, I have involved myself in student life through my roles as a student engagement officer, as an executive on three clubs as well as an employee at the college chapel. I believe these positions have allowed me to gain a unique perspective about student life. I have also become involved at Western as a student voice representative at the Social Science Students' Council and in the general community volunteering with Anova. I also have experience in dealing with equity framework by virtue of participating in focus groups for the review of Western's gender-based violence and anti-racist policies. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year?

The Senate's immediate priorities next year should include addressing COVID-19 safety and unique issues that have stemmed in the past year. For example, the raising of tuition for international students from already unreasonable rates in the year of a pandemic, self-reporting, accommodations and extra participation alternatives for students not in Eastern Time. There should also be focus on trying to hold events for the current first-years and allow them to live in residence, provided it is safe to do so. Additionally, the Senate should implement a staggered, prioritized return to normalcy [for] campus life.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

I haven't ordered at The Spoke yet, hopefully that will change this year!

Hyacinth Zia 

Fourth-year King’s English literature and psychology student

hyacinth

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

I'm involved as an executive member of the Bangladeshi student's association on campus. I'm also a part of the Greek society as a member of the Phi Beta Phi sorority. These are the ways in which I not only voice my opinions, but also build on my understanding of what it means to be a Mustang. In my time here, I've learned that what [unites] us as a student body is not our differences but the shared love we have towards our school, the [colour] purple and everything which brings us closer to making Western home.   

What do you think the Senate should do next year? 

The coming year will be challenging for students and faculty alike while we transition into smaller in-person classes. Or if our current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic prevails, the university must strengthen the resources that students have at disposal. Whether it is by the means of providing more standardized distant learning methods or by making sure students experience a smooth transition into in-person classes. I think the key focus should be on student's health and wellness by providing better accessible physical and mental healthcare. 

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

Everything bagel with hummus. 

Graduate student senator 

Julie Nord

Sixth year of study towards a PhD in musicology   

Julie

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator?  

I have served as a graduate representative on Senate and its committees since 2019. Additionally, I have been a PSAC departmental steward, the graduate representative on the Music library committee and have served on Society of Graduate Students council. When Western first closed due to COVID-19 last spring, I used my position on Senate to advocate for the unique and varied needs of graduate students during the pandemic. I will continue to advocate for all students from my position this coming year. 

What do you think the Senate should do next year?    

More than anything, I would like to see the Arts and Humanities better represented on university Senate. The reassignment of the Arts and Humanities, Music and FIMS undergraduate senator to “position at-large” is a recurring issue. Likewise, I see these departments underrepresented in the graduate positions. But this year is an exception! (pssst if you’re in these departments and are interested, get involved!) 

What’s your Spoke bagel order?  

I have actually never been to The Spoke! When I am on campus, I love getting sushi or noodles at Lucy’s or the Indian buffet at the Grad Club. 

Effie Sapuridis

Second year of study towards a PhD in media studies.

effie

What experiences have prepared you to be a student senator? 

Since arriving at Western, I have served on the Media Studies Doctoral Student Association and on the Media Studies Programming Committee. Additionally, I am a PSAC Union Representative for my faculty (FIMS) and am currently the Society of Graduate Students' speaker. Prior to Western, I spent a decade in an international non-profit focused on the Greek diaspora. I am currently a graduate student senator and look forward to continuing in this role next year.  

What do you think the Senate should do next year?  

There is a distinct lack of representation from the Arts and Humanities on Senate, particularly among the undergraduate senators. I would like to see our faculties represented more. Additionally, I would like to see student senators speak out more at Senate meetings; the conversations are mostly led by faculty and staff. Student voices need to be amplified in this environment and I hope to help achieve that goal.

What’s your Spoke bagel order? 

Unfortunately, I haven’t yet been able to enjoy a Spoke bagel! But I can tell you that I live for the nachos and the chicken quesadillas at the Grad Club.

Elias Boussoulas is acclaimed for Health Science student senator and did not send the Gazette a profile.

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Sarah is a Culture Editor for volume 114. Email her at sarah.wallace@westerngazette.ca or find her on Twitter @sarahkwallace7

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