Tripat Sandhu was voted in as the next Student Union Society (SUS) president, winning 66 per cent of the 751 votes. She is the first female varsity athlete to be elected as SUS president, plays as a midfielder in the UFV women’s soccer team, and will be starting her third year of studies in the fall, majoring in criminal justice and criminology. This driven student politician has big goals for her term as president, such as constructing a playing field for sports and increasing student engagement on campus through stronger collaboration between SUS, the university, and Clubs and Associations.
What are you main goals as president?
One major direction I want to take is being more collaborative with UFV and the unique groups and organizations that we have on campus. By doing so I want to hold at least one event that will have a big student turnout, but I am still in the works of planning it. Another long-term goal that I am hoping to work on is looking into building a field, which not only benefits and can be used by student athletes, but other students as well. I am always being questioned, “Where can I play cricket on campus?” or “Where can I play frisbee on just an open field?” I often don’t have an answer to those questions so I want to change that with a long-term goal of building a field.
What groups are you looking to collaborate with?
Mainly Student Life and major clubs and associations. For example, we want to plan an orientation where we can have everyone there, all the major departments of UFV and faculty, so that it can be easier for first-year students to meet the different departments and see what aligns with their passions, what groups they can be involved with, and even meet some of the profs they are going to have.
Do you have any other smaller goals you want to accomplish during your term?
UFV is known for being a commuter campus, and I want to look into hosting events that will help students be more engaged and actually have a sense of spirit at UFV. I also want to look into events that promote diversity, such as celebrating cultural events throughout the year because we have such a diversity of cultures at UFV. As a student athlete, I want bigger turnouts at our games and to have more Cascade spirit, whether it be at basketball games, soccer, baseball, rugby, etc. Lastly, I also want students to know the different ways they can receive financial aid and awards. This might be something small, but it is as easy as marketing it properly to students and telling them “Hey, this is what you can apply for, this is what’s out there, this is what UFV is offering.”
There is a bit of a shakeup with SUS right now, and a number of students are losing trust in the society. How do you plan to address this sort of conflict and what changes do you expect to make?
I believe that SUS and any group that is involved in politics can easily come under scrutiny. Coming into this position, I didn’t really have a big connection with SUS and its politics, so I feel like I am a very neutral person and I’m really open to hearing students concerns and ideas, and hope to work with them to reduce the friction that is in the air right now.
Can you talk a little about your previous involvement on campus?
Coming into my first year, I wasn’t that involved on campus. So I told myself coming into second year that I want to explore more, get involved and meet new people, and get outside of my comfort zone. I did that by joining the Criminal Justice Student’s Association because that really aligns with my passions and the program I am in. Also, I became involved as a peer supporter with communications to help international students. Since my first year I have been volunteering at SUS for the president a few hours a week, doing whatever tasks needed to be done.
So how has all that involvement prepared you for your role as president?
Outside of school I am the co-founder of a non-profit organization; that is pretty similar to being president of SUS. You are dealing with different people and collaborating with different clubs and associations and you are running big-scale events. So I thought I could transfer the assets and skills I developed from volunteering outside in the community and at UFV to being president.
Can you tell me a little about the non-profit you co-founded?
It’s a non-profit organization called Sikh Sewa International Society of Youth. What we do on a local level is bi-monthly soup kitchens, and on an international level we do eye camps. We have done three eye camps already in rural villages in India, and we are trying to do a dental camp.
What should students expect from you as president?
They should expect a passionate, understanding, and positive leader who serves the students with a smile. My door is always open and I look forward to meeting new students and hearing their ideas and even their concerns. I am not here to just sit back — I am here to really increase student engagement on campus and the sense of spirit at UFV.
Image: Andrea Sadowski/The Cascade