Meet your candidates for the upcoming CSU elections
// Gurpreet Kambo

As surely as the groundhog failing to see its shadow indicates the onset of spring, so do the CSU’s annual February elections. This election typically sees only a few positions up for election only if a position was not filled in the fall election, or if one of the elected executives resigned.

This year, there are two positions available. The Queer Students’ Liaison had no one run for the position in the fall elections, and in this election has three candidates. The International Students’ Liaison is also looking for a new person, as the liaison resigned. Two candidates are competing for this position. The Capilano Courier spent time getting to know the candidates so that you, the voter, will be able to cast an informed vote. Students can vote in the CSU elections in the Birch cafeteria on Feb. 6-9 from 10am-6pm, and on Feb. 10 from 10am-2:30pm.

Queer Students’ Liaison

Rose Bunagan is a Liberal Studies student in her third year at Capilano. She feels like Capilano has been a great institution for her, and she is running for the Queer Liaison position so that she can give back “ten times fold,” she says. One of her focuses is on creating an environment where students can have meaningful relationships, especially by “establishing a strong presence and support for the GLBT student body.”

For Bunagan, homophobia and suicides of queer-identified youth is an enormously important issue: “The increased rates in teen suicide are alarming … Bullying is one of the biggest factors in GLBT suicides wherein an individual feels that taking their life is the only way out,” she says.

She's keen to up the visibility of the Queer Resource Centre: “Not many people know that we have a Queer Resource Centre on-campus and I think that establishing that strong presence will really help out anyone who is transitioning from high school to university, or from one school to another.”

She is also interested in a mentorship program for new students: “[In this program], second-, third-, and fourth-year students can give a quick tour of the campus, letting [first-years] know the ins and outs of Cap, and just be a mentor!” She is also interested in putting on several events for students. She enthusiastically lists several ideas she has, including “movie nights, bowling nights, sporting events, karaoke, board games night, speed dating, [and] adventures: hikings or camping trips/art nights … just to name a few.”

Ciara John A first year sciences student who hopes to get into medical school, Ciara John feels that she’d be a great fit for the position of Queer Students’ Liaison: “I have been raised with a warm and caring family with regards to my queer status, and would like to use that same nurturing and warm attitude to help voice and give great concern to the Queer student body at Capilano U,” she says.

The key issue that she sees facing the Queer students constituency is one of inclusion: “Everyone is welcomed here, regardless of religion, sex preference, gender, upbringing, wealth, education-level, and subjects of career study,” she says. “I come from a very diverse background, being raised First Nations with ties to Germany. I know the complexities and impact of how culture can inspire individuals and make people feel at home.”

John was also a candidate for the First Nations Students’ Liaison position in the fall of 2011, where she came second in votes. “It is obvious to see my concern in being apart of the student experience, and ensuring that we all as students can look back and say ‘Yes, I did it! And had fun, and experienced a whole lot of new things.'"

Brooklyn Kemp A second-year student in the Global Stewardship Program, Brooklyn Kemp hopes to capture your vote for the Queer Students’ Liaison position. “I believe in equal rights and acceptance for everyone, which, in this case, (unfortunately) actually means challenging the status quo,” she says. She feels that there may yet be a ways to go in achieving true equality: “Although people say that they accept people from the LGBT community, their actions and their use of language can often say otherwise.”

Despite the fact that, if elected, she would represent Queer students on campus, she emphasizes that it is not a group that is homogeneous. “This may sound funny, but as of right now, I can't actually speak on behalf of the queer community at Capilano. This is because we are all individuals, many of which I don't know,” she says. “What I personally see as a key issue facing the queer community here at Cap, is that there hasn't been any presence of the queer collective in the school for the past couple years … Not having a voice in the CSU and not having a presence in the school from the collective has left me feeling as though I’ve been missing out on something, especially a chance to make some good friends.

When asked about her ideas for things she’d like to do if elected, she lists several ideas, including an open house for the new Queer Centre, a spring barbecue, and bringing Qmunity, which calls itself “B.C.’s queer resource centre”, to do workshops.

She also emphasizes the collaborative nature of the liaison position. “It’s not just about my ideas a handful of heads is better than one, so upon being elected as Cap U’s Queer Liaison, I would love to hear all the ideas that members of the collective have followed by working together to bring an event to the school that everyone is excited about.”

International Students’ Liaison

Zoltán Blum  is a Masters student in both finance and accounting who is running to be the International Students’ Liaison. He feels that he’d fit the position well because it’s already his second semester abroad as an international student himself, from Hungary. He has also spent time as a student in Germany last year. Furthermore, he has plenty of experience in governance positions, having acted as an elected member of his village council back in Hungary, and as the leader of a 20-person brass band at one point.

Blum feels that his extensive experience abroad has given him perspective on what the needs of international students are: “International students are often facing the problem that things just work differently than they are used to different from their home country. I want to help them to understand and experience how things work in Canada and enable them to apply their knowledge.”

“I would like to ask the international and the exchange students what they want me to achieve, what they need, and what they wish for,” he says. “One concrete idea from my last semester abroad is that I would like to organize special nights for the different countries, where representative students … can introduce their country, and where Canadian and international students enjoy some famous dishes, dances and/or music of that nation. I would like to help them to understand each other better, to learn from one another and to be curious about other parts of the world.” He adds that if he is elected, “I will definitely give my best and do a great job for all the international students.”

Hyerin Choi  “I think the international students’ committee has not represented international students’ main interests and issues appropriately,” says Hyerin Choi, a candidate for International Students’ Liaison. “If I am elected, I would like to help their voice to be heard in Capilano.”

A second-year student in the Global Stewardship program who is “passionate about social justice and environmental issues,” she feels she’d be the best candidate for the position because she has “clear objectives and strategies for the position.”

“Over the past three semesters, I have also participated in the CSU events such as the general meetings and social justice and educational issues committee events,” she says. “It has taught me so much about how the CSU works and what problems it has.”

“I would like to represent three main issues: the international students’ high tuition fees, lack of funding and scholarships for them, and their language barriers in studying,” explains Choi. “International student tuition fees are more than four times the already-high fees for Canadian students and there are only eleven scholarships for them in Capilano. Even the scholarships are not for people who are in financial need because only students who register more than 12 credits ($5,700) are eligible.”

If she is elected, some of Choi’s “clear objectives” include a petition and non-violent protest against high tuition fees for international students, along with recruiting the members of her constituency to participate in other campaigns such as Where’s The Funding?!. She also hopes to work with international students groups from other schools, “since it is not only a Capilano issue.”

//Gurpreet Kambo, news editor
//Photos by Jason Jeon

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