Anas Cheema is the Vision UVic candidate for director of finance and operations. He is the only candidate running for this position. Voting for this election opens March 5, 2014.
What is your area of study at UVic?
I’m majoring in economics and finance.
Are there any other clubs or organizations that you’re affiliated with?
I came to UVic two years ago and I started the UVic International Students Association and I have been president of that club for the last two years. I think I’ve joined most of the clubs on campus. I went to the Clubs and Course Union day and I joined the Taiwanese Students Association, Korean Students Association—all those clubs. Mostly the culture related clubs. Besides that, I’ve been a part of the Tennis Club, and some of the sports related clubs. I’ve been involved with the Student Ambassadors, which is a group of students who to try to promote the spirit on campus and also work with the alumni from UVic. So I’ve been involved with that as well as the International Student Association over the last two years.
What do you think personally qualifies you for the position of finance and operations?
I am originally from Pakistan and I grew up in Malaysia so when I came to Canada I chose UVic for a reason. I was at Simon Fraser University before so I have studied at other schools, I’ve been other universities and I came to UVic for a reason. There were a couple of reasons. First of all, I loved the professors here, and I loved the management here. They were so friendly. One of the things that I found was lacking here are—I felt in my experience was a little bit missing was—the sense of community here. So that’s the reason I started the UVic International Students Association—because I wanted to have a platform for the international students to come together so they can have a place where they can call their own or home. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to also get further involved with the UVSS so I can do more work with the UVSS and also try to incorporate more diversity, bring more international student voices on the governance and the board. As far as the finance and operations, this is my major, so I have a very strong background and a passion for finance and economics. Honestly, I love economics. Anything to do with economics is a lot of analytical skills like efficient allocation of resources. Those are the things I’m really passionate about.
I know UVSS as an organization has a great potential. As far as director of finance and operations is concerned I think there’s a lot of areas where we could improve it further to make it work best for the short interest as well as minimize the wasteful finance or we can minimize the areas where we might feel like the funds are not being appropriately allocated so we can try to make better use of those funds. All in all, what I could say is the only reason why I want to run for this position—I want to become more involved with the UVSS—is so I can work for the community. I can give something back to the community as well as try to improve the current finance situations and try to make it run more efficiently so we can work in the students’ best interests.
What areas do you think the UVSS should put more focus on financially?
I, myself, have been really involved with a lot of student groups on campus so I feel like we should have more funds allocated towards a lot of that—diverse student clubs as well as course unions on campus.
How many UVSS Board of Directors meetings have you attended?
None. I have not really been involved with the UVSS in the past, this is my first time being involved.
How are you with policy? Are there any aspects to the current policies which you feel either for or against?
I was going over all the finance and budgets of the UVSS currently and how they have been allocating funds. I think they have been doing a really good job, but what we could further do, policies such as divestment, I do favour divestment, I do consider that resources we should invest more in organizations which are environmentally friendly and we should also take into consideration issues such as climate change that are a very important part, for sure. But at the same time what I also believe is that, if for example, we were to consider divestment, we should also consider what impact it’s going to have on students. We cannot just freeze accounts at once and take it from the organization. It should be a slow process so it does not affect the student scholarships or bursaries. If it is planned out well and it is a slow process over time so it does not impact student scholarships and it doesn’t impact the donations that are being given to UVic from the alumni and other donors. This is just an example of a policy.
Personally, my approach has always been I always believe in dialogue and communication. I feel like through negotiation, through dialogue, a lot of issues could be solved. Understanding is key. If you understand the other person’s point of view on any policy related issues like with the B.C. government if you have to talk to them related to bus pass ups or stuff like that.
I am not in big favour of going out there and protesting because that is going to further agitate the other party. So what we should try to do is have more of a clear policy of dialogue and peaceful negotiations. The part of the world I am from, and I know what has been going on in the Middle East so I have seen the consequences of those agitated policies. I feel that these are the values that I stand for.
Are there any personal goals you’re looking to achieve in your position beyond slate or platform items?
Totally. As far as personal goals go, you learn a lot from this position. It’s really good. I’m 22 right now and these are the years of your life where you should get involved as much as you can. I feel like these are the years where you should heavily be focusing on personal development before you reach your 30s. For sure, a lot as it has to do with leadership and involvement. There’s going to be a whole lot of stuff that I’m going to be learning on the job for sure.
What accounts does the UVSS hold?
I was going over the financial statements so I saw there are a lot of funds that are allocated towards advocacy groups on campus and you have separate funds for course unions, student clubs, and then there are a whole lot of funds that were for building operations.
What would you have done differently this past year compared to the existing director of finance and operations?
As far as spending goes we could have had more efficient allocation of resources. We could have gotten a better dollar value of those funds than was currently being achieved and we could have had a lot more cuts that we could have done on a lot of different areas. For example, like legal issues that arose from different student clubs or course unions filing cases against the UVSS. A lot of those could have been avoided if we had a different policy. At the same time I do understand that the current board has been working hard and I do respect them for that but it’s just a matter of coming and working together.
Last question, lightest one, if you could be a mythological or fantasy creature, what would you be?
If it was any creature that I could have been, I don’t know, I think it could be some adventurous, travelling-related creature, if it exists, because I love travelling and I love adventures. I’m all about travelling. In the past three years I’ve been solo-backpacking to more than 34 countries; I cycled across Canada this summer. I don’t know if there’s such a fantasy/mythological creature.