UVic senate elections begin for three faculty representatives, four students acclaimed

Campus News
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File Photo by Belle White

Until Feb. 12 at 4:30 pm, UVic students will be able to vote online for senate representatives of the faculties of law, social sciences, and engineering. Four students, representing the business school and faculties of humanities, science, and graduate studies, have been acclaimed.

The senate is one of two governance bodies at UVic. Whereas the senate is responsible for the academic governance of the university, the board of governors controls its overall management and administration. The two student seats on the board of governors were recently filled by acclaimed candidates: undergraduate student Jonathan Granirer and graduate student David Foster. 

Students can also run for the UVSS, which is UVic’s student union and governs itself independently of UVic. Interested students can submit their names for nomination by 9 a.m. on Feb. 24. Voting in the UVSS elections will take place online, from March 24-26. 

The Senate has 72 members, including 16 elected students. There is one student member from each faculty and three representatives from the Faculty of Graduate Studies. The remainder of the sixteen seats are held by at-large representatives. No one is currently running or acclaimed for an at-large senate seat. 

This year there are only three senate positions that will be contested in the election. Four senators were acclaimed: Tomas Kalyniuk for the Peter B. Gustavson School of Business, Navinder Hundal for the Faculty of Science, Daniel Davenport for the Faculty of Humanities, and Foster, again for graduate studies.

This leaves two graduate studies representative positions empty. There are also no candidates from the faculties of education, human and social development, and fine arts. Including the at-large positions, this means just seven of the 16 student senate positions will be filled in this election. 

There are three faculties with multiple students running for their UVic senate position. Four students are running to represent the Faculty of Law, three are running for the social sciences student senate position, and two students are running in the Faculty of Engineering. 

Here’s a breakdown of all of the candidates and their promises. 

Candidates in the Faculty of Law

Candidates in the Faculty of Law include Nathaniel Sukhdeo, Jaxxen Wylie, Kyle Risby, and Kylie Jack. 

Sukhdeo is a first-year student in the joint Indigenous law and Canadian common law program. He promises he would advocate for more online learning options beyond the pandemic and the creation of more partially online or modularized degree options to make UVic more accessible. Sukhdeo currently serves in the navy. He completed his undergraduate degree at Western University and holds a Master of Public Administration from the Royal Military College of Canada.

Wylie defines himself as an Indigenous, Danish, Irish, and English person and is a father to a one-year-old child. Wylie says he hopes to “represent an intersectional viewpoint of [those] that may face great hurdles as a University student,” adding that he has struggled with head injuries, depression, and substance use. He says he would bring his resiliency and array of experiences to the table as a student senator. 

Risby is a Tahltan student in the joint Indigenous law program from Whitehorse, Yukon. Risby hopes a position on the senate would “provide an avenue to advocate at depths for Indigenous issues within academia” and says he has gained experience in connecting with Indigenous students and participating in academic governance during his undergraduate degree at Royal Roads.

Jack is Syilx Okanagan from the Penticton Indian Band. She says she will bring a different perspective to the senate as a first-year student in UVic’s Indigenous law program and has experience volunteering in her home community with mental health initiatives and event planning. Jack completed her undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University and currently serves as a 1L Indigenous Student Law Association representative.

Candidates in Faculty of Social Sciences 

Kayla Wilson, Samuel Holland, and Aidan Witts are running to represent social sciences students in the senate. 

Wilson is a second-year student, majoring in political science and minoring in business. Wilson says she will involve students in senate decisions and welcomes students to discuss senate issues with her. She says she wants to ensure “the budget is managed effectively” and UVic’s money is used to “improve our education programs.”

Holland is a third-year environmental studies and history student, and founder of the UVic Discord Server Repository. Holland listed a set of platform points in his candidate bio, which include fixing the library website, banning online proctoring software, promoting open source textbooks, and supporting reconciliation and recognition of Indigenous agency.

Witts is a third-year student in the economics department. He says he will focus on “removing financial barriers, improving course offerings, and increasing transparency in the grading process.” His bio on UVic’s website places an emphasis on the cost of textbooks and increasing the availability of online courses post-pandemic. Witts also believes UVic should provide “marking breakdowns, proof of statistical validity, explanations for class-wide grade adjustments” for grading.

Candidates in the Faculty of Engineering

Two candidates, Anona Wiebe and Xiang (Alex) Li, are running to represent engineering students on the senate.

Wiebe was elected to the Engineering Students’ Society to be their ECE (electrical and computer engineering) Student Representative in 2019 and previously served in the senate in 2018. She says her experience as a front-line worker at UVic’s computer help desk and on campus projects like UVic’s cyber awareness campaign and CanAssist would assist her in a senate role. Wiebe hopes a position in the senate would allow her to “use her experience to make lasting contributions to the UVic community.”

The other candidate for the engineering spot, Li, has a list of election promises. These include things like advocating for timely student-professor communication, more recorded lectures, and a better Brightspace and course registration interface. Li did not note any of his prior experiences in his bio on UVic’s senate elections website. 

All UVic students can vote until Feb. 12 at 4:30 p.m. at https://webvote.uvic.ca. More information about the candidates and the senate elections can be found here.