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Q&A with senate candidates

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UFV currently holding an election for four student representatives on its Senate. Below are The Cascade’s interviews with the five candidates. Voting is open until March 14 at 6:00 PM, and is completed through a link sent to students’ UFV email addresses.

Sukhan Sandhu

Fourth year, Bachelor of Kinesiology, double minor in philosophy and biology

Why are you running for the position of student representative on Senate?
I see a lot of changes happening as far as making the university look real nice and progressive on the outside, but not so much on the inside as far as day-to-day student life at UFV. I feel there’s less clubs now than from when I started … the student tutoring services that were first available in the SLG are less frequent now. As far as academic-wise and student life, I feel like there’s a lot of things lacking and I want to bring a lot of change where I feel change is necessary.

I have three main things on my platform: financial aid opportunities, more awareness about mental health and some amenities for that, and integrating more students, especially the international students that are coming in — I feel like there’s a real divide in the student population as far as international students and domestic students.

What is your background knowledge of Senate?
I’m not going to lie and pretend like I’ve been really involved in UFV politics since I started coming to the school. I don’t have much knowledge about Senate, but I’ve always been really curious and I’m always open to learn. When I see issues at hand, and they’ve been lingering around for a while and I don’t see anybody else stepping up to the plate to solve them, I never hold back in being the one who does so.

How will you represent the student body in Senate?
I plan to represent it by putting the students first. UFV feels really homely; it may be small, but I feel like that makes it easier for everyone to be well connected. In Senate, I’m going to promote that. I feel like that is what the students want; they want more interconnectedness.

I’ve seen different students in different fields of study and what sort of issues they have with the school, and I want to brings those issues to the forefront. I want to make sure the Senate is working for the students and not the other way around.

How do you plan on communicating with students on decisions and discussions of Senate?
I’m a huge fan of face-to-face interaction, but we all go to college, we all know how busy everyone can get, and that’s not always possible. My main goal will be to push so that we can get more clubs and associations open, because then it becomes easier to talk to the heads of those clubs and get the consensus instead of talking to a hundred people.

I want to have an open conversation, develop some sort of platform where that communication can happen. My first move would be to develop that platform, whether it’s through social media, through clubs an efficient one, one that’s easy to use, that people don’t mind using, and maybe can even be anonymous if needed.

What do you think is the most pressing issue right now on campus?
The integration of students, parking, and cafeteria hours. UFV is getting all this tuition from students; they should have enough money to build more parking stalls. And in an environmentally friendly way, not chopping down a bunch of trees and then expanding the lot. It has to be sensible. And more food options, because when I have a three-hour lecture and a 15-minute break and the line at Tim Hortons takes me a solid 25 minutes — that shouldn’t be happening.

The Canoe was as great concept if it was more of a cafe than a sit-down restaurant. That’s why the price points go up: when you get those gourmet chefs in the back and the servers. But if it’s more of a self-serve type of deal, you can have those lower price points and people can still have a place to have a quick bite to eat.


Tyler Branston

Third year, Bachelor of Arts, double major in sociology and philosophy

Why are you running for the position of student representative on Senate?
I transferred to UFV from Douglas College in 2017 and have enjoyed my time thus far. However, there are aspects of UFV that could benefit from my previous experiences. I can make a difference on the UFV Senate and be an advocate for the student and faculty bodies.

From my own position, after I graduate I am planning on pursuing a career in politics and policy/law. Serving on the UFV Senate will be an invaluable experience.

What is your background knowledge of Senate?
Up until the call for nominations I wasn’t very familiar with the functions of the Senate at UFV. Since then, I’ve been actively looking into the Senate’s functions and its capacity to change things within the university and what is delegated to the board.

How will you represent the student body in Senate?
I will do the utmost in my role on the Senate to make the student experience the best experience possible. I plan on having dialogue with my fellow students, hear their difficulties, and will represent them in Senate. But from my individual standpoint, the two main points I will address are the financial restrictions and course availability and quality.

Costs involved in textbooks, tuition, student fees, printing costs, parking, transportation, housing, etc., are all expenses that are often too high and some of which can be highly punitive to students. We need creative solutions. Finding creative means to address these needs while implementing cost-effective saving for students while also reserving funds to allow for university functions is highly important to me. Whether it be working within the Senate to reduce costs within the university or lobbying the provincial or federal governments for additional funds, I plan to tackle this problem and reduce expenses for UFV students both international and domestic.

Additionally, I’ve heard expressed concerns about required courses for degrees not being available enough. This has a substantial effect on how quickly people can graduate, especially for those managing degrees or majors into two different departments that don’t coordinate effectively in their schedules. This is a major topic I wish to bring to the Senate and resolve.

I strongly believe university is for learning, experience, fun, and ambition. We are here to get experience and training for the job market — some because we want to expand our knowledge, some since it’s fun. Students have varying goals within UFV and I will represent the student body with that in mind.

How do you plan on communicating with students on decisions and discussions of Senate?
As required by Senate bylaws, I will, when required, make regular reports to constituents on Senate matters. I will also makes myself open to those who have questions or concerns. To pique student interest I am willing to sit down or have dialogue through email.

What do you think is the most pressing issue right now on campus?
The financial burdens that are placed on students can be overwhelming. Excessive financial burdens can force a student to choose between what they want to do and some occupation that will get them paid. Additionally, financial burdens can also delay degrees, increase stress, and have negative impacts on learning and grade alike. I believe that excessive financial burdens degrade the university experience. Students may not want to take beneficial cross-disciplinary courses if they are worried about the financial difficulty.


Alisha Mutneja

Third year, Bachelor of Arts, criminal justice

Why are you running for the position of student representative on Senate?
When I came to university, I got involved with Circle K, but I still want to get more involved. I’ve always been that type of person that sits in the back. Also, UFV is known as a briefcase campus; people just come to the school, get their work done, and leave. And I’m also kind of guilty of that, so I want to get more involved. And I know we have a lot of issues here at UFV that students go through but their voices aren’t always heard. So I thought I’d try to be that bridge between UFV students and the Senate.

I’m running on three issues for my full campaign. One is mental health options, which I think need to be more readily available on campus. I know we have some options, for example, the therapy dogs, but I do think we need a little more. The second [topic] I’m doing is transparency with awards. I feel like the criteria for awards scare people off. If we made it more measurable, more demonstratable, people will be motivated to actually pursue their highest level of excellence and actually work toward those awards. Third is easier access to classes; a big issue right now that we need to work on. I don’t want to say we need bigger class sizes people come to UFV because you get that great connection between professor and student. But if you can’t even get into the class, there’s no connection to be made.

What is your background knowledge of Senate?
They’re the academic governing body that takes care of academic policies at UFV. What they work to do is advise the board on student issues and give advice on academic policies and how they should be made.

How will you represent the student body in Senate?
A lot of students don’t really know about [the UFV Senate body] and I think that’s because the Senate doesn’t really work to create their presence on campus. Like any other person our age, social media is the way to go. I’m hoping to make a bigger social media presence for the Senate and reach out to students. That way, for issues they’re facing or are concerning them, they can reach out to us there. I feel like we would be able to get in touch with the student body as a whole [by social media].

How do you plan on communicating with students on decisions and discussions of Senate?
I’m hoping to create a bigger social media presence. I was researching on Instagram I don’t really have Twitter, but hopefully I can create something on Twitter as well but I didn’t really see much about UFV’s governing body. I saw clubs and a page for the business and all that, but nothing for UFV Senate. Hopefully we can create a page where people can come to us with their issues and also give their input on policies that are being created.

What do you think is the most pressing issue right now on campus?
Right now and I can advocate for others as well because I’ve gone through this I think we need easier access to classes. Students are put onto waitlists for 10 or 11 classes… and you get into one or two classes. That’s not acceptable because it delays graduation and everyone’s plans for their future career. We need to make classes easier to access; I’m looking into that by hopefully getting more professors to teach, or using whatever options we have available to make that happen for students.


Shahbaig Singh Boparai

Third year, Bachelor of Business Administration, finance major

Why are you running for the position as a student representative on Senate?
When I have a look around the campus, I see a lot of unresolved issues. Talking about the academics, when we compare UFV to some of the other universities, some of them are better ranked than UFV. What makes the difference, right? As an observer, and as a student of UFV, I feel that if I can make a difference, I should.

One thing that I found missing here in this regard, is [the amount of time teachers have with students]. So what do [struggling students] do? Do they approach the professor who’s just got about half an hour after the class as the office hours? What we could do is have assistant professors or teaching assistants who could have more hours and a greater availability for the students. That will make things much easier.

Other such issues like plagiarism. There should be more workshops organized to make everyone aware of what plagiarism actually is. What do professors expect out of you and what’s the correct way to cite all the sources?

There are multiple other options, obviously. Being an international student myself, there are a couple of issues that we face but it’s the majority first and then the smaller issues.

What is your background knowledge of Senate?
It’s my first time, so I don’t know exactly what the Senate does, but from what I’ve read and what I’ve heard, I believe that it’s just helping the governing body make decisions. It’s assisting them, providing them with feedback, and giving them the list of all the problems that the majority of students are facing here and try to come up with a solution that’s feasible for them and the students.

How will you represent the student body in Senate?
Whatever goes on around me, I observe. It’s basically observing and being aware of what is going on around you, be it your batch mates, be it your friends; whenever they come to you, whenever they share, I say “Okay, I’ll take note of that.” It’s all about networking in the end. The more people you know, the more you’re aware of what kind of problems there are or what needs to be tackled first. It’s prioritizing.

How do you plan on communicating with students on decisions and discussions of Senate?
If there’s any major decision that has to be made or has been made, there needs to be something a small event or networking event so everyone should just be there. That is the best time to let them know that, okay, we’ve made this decision and this has happened.

I’m personally from UFV India and the difference I see here is that I feel India was a much closer knit community. What I see here is that the Baker House is something that’s closely knit, but what about the rest of the student body? That’s something that needs to be tackled. It’s that network of small events like this which will create the difference. People are going to come together and get to know each other, talk around, and that’s probably the best time to communicate with them.

What do you think is the most pressing issue right now on campus?
In a broader sense, I feel people come here just to attend classes and then leave. That’s what people think university is all about. But I believe it’s more than coming here, attending your classes, handing in your assignments, and then leaving. There’s so much more than that. There’s no networking going around; there’s no one just hanging around the campus. Obviously people have jobs and there’s tight schedules to manage. But I believe there’s a lot that could be done in that regard; there could be more job opportunities on campus that could ease tight schedules. And obviously people would spend more time on the campus and it’ll be a much closer community.


Harveen Dhaliwal

First year, Bachelor of Science

Why are you running for the position of student representative on Senate?
As a first-year student I’m a little bit confused about what’s going on here, but at the same time I want to be involved in some way. I think this would be a good opportunity for me to get a bird’s-eye view on everything that’s going on here and maybe have a voice in what is going on here as well, and be able to help out.

What is your background knowledge of Senate?
I haven’t done any things in the political scheme. I’ve been more into sciences, education, and humanities, but politically I’m not that knowledgeable on things in that kind of area. So, as well as this being something that’ll let me help out other people, it’ll also be kind of a learning curve for me.

How will you represent the student body in Senate?
I was hoping to represent mainly undergrad students, even first-year students because I know sometimes the transition can be difficult from a high school environment to a university environment. There’s a lot of stresses and challenges, and sometimes when we are thinking too hard about those challenges, we don’t get to enjoy the other things that a university has to offer. So I was hoping to, for the general student body, to give voice in minimizing those stresses so that we can enjoy the other things the university has to offer.

How do you plan on communicating with students on decisions and discussions of Senate?
I didn’t want to advertise myself, I wanted to be kind of like a natural thing to talk about if there’s problems going on. What can we do to fix it? What’s the most efficient way to fix it? How can we do it so everyone’s happy? Maybe not taking everyone’s input, but more of a closer connection thing. I don’t like the idea of widespread [communication] where I can’t talk to each individual person.

What do you think is the most pressing issue right now on campus?
Definitely the transition from high school to university. There are challenges and stresses that don’t allow us to see the full potential of what goes on here. And especially in my classes, sometimes there are students who you asked, “Are you in any clubs or anything fun?” And they reply, “No, we’re up all night studying, we can’t do anything like that.” So minimizing those kinds of stresses would be beneficial.

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