Raadhiyah Zowmi – Candidate Profile

RUNNING FOR VPFA

Photo Credit: Remy Zanotto

Photo Credit: Remy Zanotto

Candidate Interview:

To the best of your understanding, what is the role and responsibilities of the VPFA?

The VPFA is responsible for all mandate regarding the Health and Dental Plan as well as matters regarding transit, however the responsibilities aren’t restricted to the aforementioned. I believe that being a member of the BUSU executive team requires a greater amount of responsibility and isn’t limited to the explicit responsibilities of the role. I believe the VPFA is responsible for ensuring that the finances that students spend is allocated to the appropriate resources, and that student dollars are well spent and monitored adequately. A lot of changes are coming to OSAP following the Ford government’s decision to cut back on funding, therefore I believe that it is imperative that students are satisfied with the resources they are funding through their ancillary fees. The VPFA is also an active member of the student senate, and therefore plays a vital role in ensuring that the needs of the student body are met. As VPFA, I will ensure that student needs are addressed and that transparency remains a priority.

Why have you decided to run for the position of VPFA?

Although I have past experiences that may assist me in this position, such as VP Finance for Brock’s Chapter for the Canadian Coalition for Global Health Research, as well as my position as Adventure Director for non-profit youth organization Serendib Youth Canada, among others, I believe experience alone is not enough to be considered a suitable candidate for the position. As someone who is directly impacted by the changes to OSAP being made by the Ford government this upcoming school year, I understand firsthand the struggles of Brock students. I understand that this upcoming year will be very financially difficult for many students, and I am eager to implement changes that will benefit the student body without minimizing the services that are currently being offered that many students benefit from. I believe that I am not only able to relate to the student body, but I am someone who must overcome these challenges with my fellow students, and I understand the measures that need to be taken so that my role as VPFA can support people who are affected by these changes.

Why do you believe you should be elected VPFA?

As someone who has not concentrated their focus solely in business and finances along with BUSU-related activities, I believe I differ greatly from my competition. Although many may see this as inexperience or a disadvantage to my position, I believe that this will prove to be an advantage. I have not concentrated my field in finance and administration, rather I am currently in my third year of medical sciences at Brock. I haven’t solely concentrated my focus on BUSU, but I have involved myself with other clubs on campus, such as the Brock CCGHR, Brock French Club, Brock Socialists Club, the Brock MSA and the Brock SLA. Because of my differing focus, I am able to offer a completely objective, unbiased opinion that allows me to offer a fresh perspective on the executive board. I believe the fact that I have various other experiences allows for a more multifaceted approach to different situations and can prove to be very advantageous in situations that require alternate solutions.

If you needed to summarize your platform into three main issues at Brock that you believe need to be addressed, what would they be? How do you plan to address these issues?

My three main platform points consist of:

  1. Full year U-Pass
  • Currently a September to April U-Pass, I would like to implement a September to August U-Pass
  • Brock intends on transitioning from a dual-semester model to a tri-semester model and this would be a huge incentive for students to take courses during the summer
  • Currently we have about 10 per cent of our student population that stays on campus during the spring/summer semester, we would like to increase that number
  • With increased students comes increased revenue, allowing us to offset some of the costs
  • We could work on a deal with St. Catharines Transit that would allow students to pay an obligatory $125/semester fee if they plan to take summer courses, as opposed to $400 for transit. This would generate $205K for St. Catharines transit and encourage students to stay for the whole summer as opposed to staying for the 2-week courses that Brock offers, resulting in more revenue for St. Catharines Transit.
  1. Implementing an inter-university gym pass
  • Many students can’t justify spending money on a gym membership for when they are out of town for the weekend or during reading week
  • Collaborate with University of Toronto and McMaster to allow Brock students to use their Brock card to access the gym facilities on various campuses
  • May not necessarily increase the annual gym fees – consider the fact that Brock students can access multiple libraries from various schools without an extra fee increase, regardless of the fact that certain schools may have more expensive facilities. This same concept could be implemented for the gym pass
  1. Free legal services for students
  • University of Toronto has successfully implemented this model at their campuses
  • Hire law graduates to work pro bono for the school
  • Students benefit from services, graduates benefit from experience: mutually beneficial
  • No extra charge to the students, no extra charge to the university

If elected what would you do differently from past VPFA’s?

The past VPFA has done an excellent job of addressing transit concerns on campus, extending bus timings, and carrying out the tasks of their role. However, I believe there are still quite a few things that are left to be addressed on campus. One of the main concerns would be adequate mental health services. From my understanding, I am aware that ensuring adequate mental health funding is part of the VPFA mandate, and currently the services on campus are sub-par. We do not have reasonable wait times for services, with the average wait times being 2 to 3 weeks for an appointment, and even once students attend their appointments, they often feel that they are not adequate. What I would like to do is partner with the 12 mental health and addiction centres across the Niagara region, who are willing to send their counsellors to Brock to work at no additional cost to the students, and no additional cost to the university, as the counsellors would outsource their funding from the ministry of health. This would provide Brock with various trained professionals who may holistically address the mental health concerns of each unique individual.

 

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