Sunday, May 26, 2019

Camosun College Student Society brings new and returning board members on in elections

May 14, 2019 by Kate Wood, staff writer

New and returning council members were elected onto the Camosun College Student Society (CCSS) board in its spring elections, held from April 8 to 10.

The CCSS recently moved their election process to an online voting platform in order to make it easier for students to vote; this election received votes from 788 students out of roughly 9,400 eligible voters. The election did not have a referendum, which CCSS executive director Michel Turcotte says could have had an impact on the involvement of students. Turcotte also says it’s possible that the other responsibilities of students may have taken precedence over their participation in this election.

“I would have liked to have seen more students participating,” says Turcotte. “The fact we weren’t doing a referendum at the same time may have also had some impact around that. Students may have been distracted getting ready for exams and things of that nature as well, but it was still more than we would have received with a traditional ballot election. So, all in all, I’d say that I’m reasonably pleased with the results. While I certainly would have preferred there to be a more contested election and slightly higher voter turnout, I would certainly like to thank those who participated as candidates, those who were successful and those who were not, as well as all the students who voted to make this election a success.”

Camosun College Student Society external executive Fillette Umulisa (photo by Adam Marsh/Nexus).

First year Associate of Arts student Fillette Umulisa was re-elected as the CCSS external executive. She says she feels encouraged by her re-election, and will continue to work as an advocate for students. 

“I feel empowered and motivated now more than ever to continue doing what I’ve been doing,” says Umulisa. “The fact that I’ve been re-elected means I did a great job in my last year, so I am looking to keep up with all of the good things that I’ve been doing. The advocacy, the transparency, and the media and everything, and just being around attending events and talking to everybody, and just being involved.”

One of Umulisa’s roles in the student society is to act as a liaison between the CCSS and the British Columbia Federation of Students (BCFS), as well as between the CCSS and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA). Umulisa is also the CCSS campaigns chairperson; she says that the CCSS is working on a campaign to encourage students to vote in the upcoming federal election, as well as working on becoming more educated in issues relating to sexual violence and misconduct on campuses. 

“Somebody [from the CCSS] will probably be attending a conference that the Ministry of Advanced Education has put on to talk about sexual misconduct and violence on campuses,” says Umulisa. “Somebody’s going to go out there, learn from what the provincial government is offering, and then bring it back to us. Then we’re going to implement that, like we do with every campaign that we get. We’re also working on strengthening our relationship with the college slightly, so those are some of the things that are up and coming for the next year.”

Turcotte says that student politics are an important element of ensuring that the policies of the college reflect the needs of the students. 

“CCSS members don’t always realize the importance of ensuring that there is adequate representation of students in both the CCSS and in student government bodies, because it’s not obvious what benefit that provides to them,” says Turcotte. “But, unfortunately, without a strong student representation on campus, the general position of students is weakened, and often that’s when policies and practices are not necessarily in the best interest of students.”

Second-year Marketing student Karan Sharma was elected as the CCSS Interurban executive. He says that part of his motivation for running in this election came from his experience working in student advocacy when he lived in India. 

“I had this dream of being elected as an executive member,” says Sharma. “I actually did this kind of stuff in my previous college when I was back in my country.” 

As Interurban executive, Sharma will focus on bringing people together by organizing events and communicating with students about what the CCSS does.

“Basically getting all the communities together, because we have a lot of different people coming from different places, as well as making freshmen aware of the resourceful Camosun College Student Society, what services we provide and what we are,” says Sharma. “Basically organizing the events aside from the studies and stuff, so they feel like getting into events.”

Sharma says that helping students feel more included at Camosun is important to him. 

“I don’t actually feel any kind of problem, but still there are many people who actually feel a lot of problems, like settling here, and even gelling with the crowd and stuff,” he says. “[The] student society always helps, and, as I got elected, I’m definitely gonna help the students with that as well.”

Tamara Bonsdorf was elected as the new CCSS sustainability director, and Sascha Christensen was re-elected as Lansdowne executive. Joshua Cameron was elected into the position of finance executive, and Eleanor Vannan was re-elected as student wellness and access director. Angela Chou was re-elected as the pride director, and Shayan de Luna-Bueno was re-elected as the women’s director.

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