The only candidates, seasoned representatives, step onto the board without an election
Jonathan Granirer and David Foster will represent UVic undergraduate and graduate student voices respectively on the 15-member Board of Governors (BoG) from July 2021 to June 2022. The Board of Governors is one of the highest decision-making bodies at UVic.
Granirer and Foster were the only candidates to run for their positions and have been acclaimed to their respective seats. They are both seasoned student representatives and say they will be working together to advocate for students on issues such as a safe return to in-person classes, international student tuition, and disability advocacy.
Jonathan Granirer: Undergraduate representative
Granirer, a third-year political science student, is stepping into the undergraduate seat with considerable experience in university governance. His BoG platform is an extension of his other student leadership politics: divestment, decolonization, and increasing UVic’s accessibility for marginalized groups.
Granirer was previously the UVSS Director of Outreach and University Relations during the 2019-2020 school year and is currently a UVic student senator, positions that have given Granirer a crash course in university governance.
“I’ve been on not every committee, but probably half of all [UVic Senate] committees ever,” Granirer told the Martlet.
Granirer says that he will use his position on the board to keep the university accountable for its recent announcement of the divestment of UVic’s Working Capital fund, and to continue to advocate for full divestment from fossil fuels.
Granirer considers divestment to be just one of the first steps that UVic can take to address climate change. On this subject, he is very much in line with the current undergraduate representative on the BoG, Juliet Watts. Both Granirer and Watts served on the same UVSS board and are involved with Divest UVic.
“It’s super informal,” says Granirer, but he’s going to sit down with Watts for a few hours and have a metaphorical baton pass so that he can hit the ground running when he steps into the role this June.
Granirer thinks that institutional knowledge is something that student administrators struggle with due to the inherent high turnover of student leadership: after being ‘thrown into the deep end’ during his tenure as a UVSS Lead Director, he’s made steps to ensure that his successor is given the tools to succeed.
Granirer says that student participation in university governance has always been low, but the problem has been exacerbated when UVic administration assumed control of the Senate and BoG elections.
“It doesn’t really seem like it’s a priority for [UVic] to publicize that the [BoG and Senate] election’s going on,” said Granirer, who thinks that the election process should be handed back to the UVSS. In previous years, those elections were held in conjunction with the UVSS elections. BoG and Senate elections arely have more than 10 per cent participation.
David Foster: Graduate representative
A second-year Master of Public Administration student, Foster has a longstanding relationship with UVic. Foster holds a B.A. from the history department and is in his ninth year of studies at UVic, split between his undergrad, his law studies, and his master’s degree. This is Foster’s second stab at getting on the BoG: he previously ran for the undergraduate BoG seat in 2012.
Foster is advocating for a more equitable campus. His top priority will be pushing for a proof of vaccination or valid medical exemption for on-campus activities, to maintain the health and safety of the campus community. In addition to his upcoming seat on the BoG, Foster will also start as a student senator in July.
“I don’t think [the university] have said a lot about their plans for in person classes publicly yet,” said Foster. “It’s certainly something that I’ll ask them about when my term starts.”
Accessibility and affordability, particularly for international students and students with disabilities, are also on his list of priorities.
Foster was very active in student and university governance as an undergraduate. He began his undergrad during a time when David Turpin was the name of the UVic president instead of the name of the maths and social sciences building.
As a student with disabilities, Foster has years of involvement with student disability advocacy at UVic. A four-time student senator, he’s improved personal leave procedures for persons with disabilities and increased the leniency of academic suspensions.
Foster was also part of a monumental UVSS slate effort to separate the UVSS from the Canadian Federation of Students in 2009.
Now he’s hoping to use his last opportunity at university governance to ensure the health and safety of students, and that support is there for students who have been impacted by the pandemic.