In most countries, after every four years a new government is elected. Likewise, in many universities around the world, there is a student association which consists of a Board of Directors, Vice Presidents and above all the President. The makeup of student associations is based on an election process by students of respective universities. At Saint Mary’s University, every year an annual student election is held by the Student Association (SMUSA), where normally 5-6 Board members are elected, as well as the President.
The President is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of SMUSA, who is elected by ‘SMUdents’ for the academic year. The President is responsible for advancing the best interests of the Association and its membership, alongside objectives determined by the Board from time-to-time. Also, the President is held accountable for the overall success and wellbeing of the association, by the Board. He/she acts as the official representative and primary spokesperson for the students. The President is the primary delegate of the Federal lobbying group and member of the Provincial lobbying group, alongside Members of the Academic Senate and Board of Governors. He or she is responsible and accountable for student representatives and serves as the primary representative on the University’s budget advisory committee. Currently, Ossama Nasrallah is the President and CEO of SMUSA, who is also running as a candidate for this year’s election, alongside Yuri Kumar and Francis Sena.
The Board of Directors are members of SMUSA who are elected for a period of two academic years. The Board of Directors is the highest governing body of the Association as defined by the SMUSA Constitution, a governing document which can only be changed by a referendum. The Board consists of up to nine students who are elected from the membership, to serve for a term of two years. They are tasked with setting the Association’s direction every year and holding the President accountable to fulfill the Board’s vision. The Board is structured under a Policy Governance Model, and Board members are tasked with amending policies.
The President acts as the Chief Executive Officer, and interprets active policies in the day-to-day management of the Association. The Board focuses solely on the future and not the past or present. The Board’s mandate is to establish policy to ensure the student association is continually working to improve the quality of life and educational experience for each student at Saint Mary’s University.
The current Board of Directors are Deeksha Bhaskar (Chair), Jane Jans (Vice Chair), Lindsay Garwe, Omar Hany, Vicky Li, Ollando Brown, Valerie Caswell, Mitchell Archibald, and Oyindamola Oshobu. And the Board of Directors’ Candidates for this year’s election are: Oyindamola Oshobu (rerunning), Ahammad Hassan Manzoor, Azhar Rahman, Henry Peng, Malia Major, Isaiah Bernard, Brandon Newell, Tavis Pearson, Salman Islam Sadib, Franklin Southwell, and Crystal Waiter.
‘SMUdents’ play a vital role by voting for their favourite candidate. Knowing that, we decided to take advantage of the reading week and ask students random questions about their thoughts on this election, and surprisingly we got mixed reviews. Some were disappointed with candidates and some were impressed with a few candidates. They also pointed out that the most common topics were mental health, helping out students, and reducing tuitions fees. Also, many were impressed by Azhar’s idea about using recycled papers, which was unique and fresh.
While there were many mixed reviews about the Board of Directors’ candidates, many commented on the ease of this year’s Presidential Election. Ossama’s governance seems to have had a positive impact on the university, while Yuri who is totally new as a Presidential candidate, seems to be confident enough for this election. Alongside them, many seem to have a negative viewpoint on Francis Sena, and mostly dislike his ideas and his behavior towards other candidates. There has been a lot of labelling and comparisons to him being, “the Donald Trump of SMU.” This election seems to have a lot of mixed feelings, but you never know how luck might strike you in a positive way.
Ferdous Mashiat Sharif, Section Editor