UVSS elections: 11 directors-at-large acclaimed

News UVSS election 2021
File photo by the Martlet

All candidates were acclaimed due to a lack of nominations

In this year’s UVSS elections, all directors-at-large (DaLs) were acclaimed due to a lack of nominations. Although they won’t be campaigning on their ideas for the UVSS, they did take the time to share them with the Martlet. 

DaLs normally assist the lead directors with their portfolios. There are 11 seats on the UVSS board held by DaLs. DaLs are not paid — they volunteer their time for a $50 monthly honorarium.

After the original call for nominations ended, five DaL spots remained. The UVSS Electoral Office extended the deadline for nominations, and the remaining spots have been filled. The Martlet spoke with each of these 11 individuals to learn about what they aim to bring to the UVSS board. 

Kathleen Banville

Banville is a mature student entering the second year of her sociology degree after recently transferring to UVic from the University of Ottawa. After witnessing the chaos of U of O’s student union, which was dissolved and reformed after claims of corruption and sexual harassment, Banville decided to get involved with the UVSS.

Banville enters the UVSS with years of experience in accounting, business management, and activism. Banville has worked closely with organizations like Food Not Bombs and Critical Mass, and has been involved in various land back efforts. 

Banville’s priorities include moving towards free university tuition and removing barriers to post-secondary education faced by people with criminal records. Banville does not know what committees she wants to serve on, but will see where her experience is most needed once she is more familiar with the UVSS. She hopes to work with LGBTQ+, BIPOC, disabled, and low-income students and aims to foster a more inclusive campus.

Deborah Berman

Berman is in her third year at UVic and is double majoring in environmental studies and political science. Berman’s top priority is building a sense of community on campus after the pandemic. 

“This last year has been really difficult,” she said. “My motivation to run came from a yearning for a better connection and just to be more involved.”

She also wants to see mental health services get more funding and be more accessible. As an environmental studies student, she hopes to work on educational sustainability initiatives and push the UVic Foundation to fully divest from fossil fuels.

Nigel Bisnar 

Bisnar is a fourth-year political science student. Bisnar says one of his main priorities as a DaL will be lobbying for UVic to fully divest and advocating for a student representative to be added to the UVic Foundation board. 

Having learned about UVSS nominations through his involvement with Divest UVic, Bisnar decided to get involved to see what differences he can make. Bisnar recognizes the importance of keeping the university accountable. 

“A year ago, [UVic] said they would aim to divest 50 or 45 per cent [of their working capital fund from fossil fuel investments] by 2030, and then they go and divest it [in 2021],” Bisnar said. “It shows they can move so much faster then they say that they can move.” 

Bisnar also seeks to increase affordability by continuing to lobby for open-source textbooks. Despite being acclaimed, Bisnar emphasizes that he will be accessible to all students to voice their concerns.

Hailey Chutter 

Chutter is a first-year business student with a passion for sustainability. Chutter became interested in the UVSS through involvement with Divest and after a current board member reached out to her. Her priorities are sustainability, student wellness, and on-campus community.

As part of her focus on sustainability, Chutter plans to advocate for full divestment. Chutter has experience with sustainability initiatives: during her time on the Residence Green Team, she focused on implementing clear signage for waste disposal bins. As a DaL, she hopes to direct focus to the packaging used on campus and increasing the vegan and vegetarian options. 

Chutter also aims to foster community by increasing the COVID-safe community spaces and events available to students on campus. As well, Chutter hopes to make consent workshops mandatory for all first year students.

Gillian Clackdoyle

Clackdoyle is a third-year student. Before this year, Clackdoyle had never thought about running in a UVSS election. After working at Felicita’s Pub and hearing the grievances of students, she was encouraged to run. Clackdoyle did not have a chance to come up with a formal platform, as she decided to run only days before the due date for nominations. 

Although Clackdoyle has not yet decided which portfolio she would like to work on, outreach and university relations and campaigns and community relations are both on her list. Mental health is one of Clackdoyle’s main focuses, and she would like to expand and advertise the Peer Support Centre. She also plans to lobby the UVic Student Wellness Centre to hire more clinical psychologists. 

If involved with the outreach portfolio, Clackdoyle wants to promote the UVSS to UVic students, and hopes to “try and form more of a community with the UVSS.”

Kritika Gupta

Gupta is a third-year psychology major and an international student from India. Gupta says she was motivated to take on a role with the UVSS because of her passion for mental health. She brings experience working with mental health organizations and suicide hotlines to her role as a DaL.

“My motivation in life is kindness,” she said. “I’ve had some traumatic experiences in my past which have motivated me to just be kind and promote mental health as much as possible.”

With the UVSS, Gupta hopes to work on the campaigns and international students portfolios. She wants to see the Peer Support Centre expanded and plans to lobby UVic to increase mental health supports. As students transition back to in-person classes, Gupta wants to increase supports for students with disabilities. 

Rowan Huff Froese

Huff Froese decided to run for the UVSS board because he wants to make a difference at UVic. Huff Froese is a political science major. 

Affordability is a big priority for Huff Froese. He says he was able to go to UVic with support from student loans and wants to make university more affordable so that other students that do not come from wealthy backgrounds can also study here. In terms of UVSS policies, Huff Froese says he wants to look at lowering the costs of textbooks, parking, and bus passes. 

As a DaL, he wants to listen to students’ opinions. 

“I would like to be quite open to hear the opinions of students,” he said. “I don’t want the board of directors to be a political institution that is quite separate from their membership.”

Shilpa Parveen 

Parveen, a second-year international student in the psychology program, decided to run for DaL after being approached by a current board member. In her time as a DaL, Parveen wants to focus on four main projects.

The first is a greater emphasis on education around sexualized violence. Parveen would like to hold mandatory workshops for every incoming UVic student on topics like sexualized violence and consent.

Second, Parveen wants to help professors and students use online tools more effectively. To achieve this, she plans to lobby the Teaching and Learning Committee. Parveen’s third promise is to improve mental health services and wait times, also by lobbying UVic.

Last, Parveen will work with the director of international student relations to fight to lower international student fees. As an international student, Parveen feels her voice and effort can be useful in this movement. 

Siddharth Pathak 

Pathak is a fourth-year computer science and mathematics student. Pathak has worked with the Indian Students’ Association since 2017 and says witnessing through this what can be achieved by working with groups of students is part of what inspired him to run for DaL. 

Pathak is interested in work on the campaigns, finance, or events portfolios. His promises centre around mental health, food bank support, and sexualized violence prevention.

Pathak plans to focus his efforts on advocating for more available same-day mental health appointments and feels this is especially important since the pandemic has caused increased stress on students. 

He also hopes to work on expanding the food bank’s capacity through collaborations and increased volunteers. 

Pathak advocates for mandatory in-person sexual assault and respect training for all first-year students. He feels this is important to create a safe community setting on campus where everyone has a universal understanding of what is okay and what is not.

Dhruvi Raichada

Raichada is a second-year international student that hopes to go into business. On the UVSS board, Raichada wants to focus her energy on learning more about the UVSS’s finances. She was encouraged to run for the UVSS after hearing from other people on the board about their experiences. 

She also plans to look at how the sexualized violence policy can be improved. Raichada wants it to be more accessible and push UVic to make it mandatory for all UVic students. She says affordability issues, like the cost of textbooks, are also high on her priority list.

Kishal Scholz

Scholz is a gender studies and English student who aims to make an impact through her role as a DaL. She is the current coordinator of the food bank and wants to see more UVSS resources devoted to it. Scholz says the food bank is an undervalued yet essential service. 

Another issue Scholz is passionate about is mental health and expanding the in-person counselling options at UVic. She says the current virtual options are not helpful for students who may not have a safe space at home. 

The last thing Scholz wants to work on is improving the access to safe sex supplies and menstrual products in the SUB. Although there are some areas where students can get these already, Scholz says she has been re-stocking them herself and wants this to be prioritized by next year’s board.

UVic undergraduate students can vote in UVSS elections for lead directors and on the referendum questions between 9 a.m. on March 24 and 12 p.m. on March 26 at webvote.uvic.ca. All of the directors-at-large were acclaimed.