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CSA Elections: Winter 2014

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

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  • Successful Academic & University affairs candidate, Peter Miller.

    Successful Academic & University affairs candidate, Peter Miller.

  • Creative campaigning help get the attention of students.

    Creative campaigning help get the attention of students.

  • Kimmi Snider and her campaign team walking around campus with IHC endorsed mascots.

    Kimmi Snider and her campaign team walking around campus with IHC endorsed mascots.

Written by Alice Lin

Early this March, candidates campaigned for a role on the CSA executive committee for the 2014 – 2015 term. Five different positions were contested for: Human Resources & Operations Commissioner, Academic & University Affairs Commissioner, Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner, External Affairs Commissioner, and Local Affairs Commissioner.

As of March 10, the CSA released unofficial results of the general elections. Results are still currently pending an audit process as well as board approval thus is subject to change. The unofficial results are as follows:

  • Human Resources & Operations Commissioner – Colin Morris
  • Academic & University Affairs Commissioner – Peter Miller
  • Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner – Sonia Chwalek
  • External Affairs Commissioner – Sonali Menezes
  • Local Affairs Commissioner – Brittany Skelton

Turnout this year dropped by approximately 6.5% from last year and was at 20.7%, where only 4053 out of the 19584 of the undergraduate student population casted their votes. This is posing an important question of whether or not students are engaged or even interested in the work of the CSA.

During the CSA general elections campaign week, candidates worked hard to promote their platform and to get their name out to students across campus by doing classroom talks, posters, and other creative promotional materials/ideas for outreach. Regardless of the outcome, all the candidates expressed sincere appreciation and gratitude for all the support they received.

Brittany Skelton, who ran a successful campaign to be the next Local Affairs Commissioner, took photos of her supporters and asked them to write on a white-board of all the reasons why they chose to vote for her. Photos were posted on various social media platforms such as Instagram and Facebook, and using the tag #CSAelections, a mandatory hashtag rule set by the CSA general elections policies. Skelton is no stranger to the CSA and has worked as the CSA Food Bank (now called the Guelph Student Food Bank) Co-ordinator for the past year.

“I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who voted and supported my campaign,” said Skelton, “I am honoured to announce that I have been elected as your Local Affairs Commissioner for the 2014-2015 year (pending board ratification). I want to acknowledge how wonderful and talented my opponents are and wish them nothing but the best”.

The Local Affairs Commissioner position was contested by two other students, one of which was Cataluna Shen, who dressed up in costume as the infamous Sailor Moon during campaign week in an effort to communicate her platform to work towards bettering sexual assault prevention on campus. “Sexual assault and its prevention, is another issue I believe to be of great importance and is something that I am committed to work on if elected in addition to a permanent station for the Greyhound coach and other transportation issues” Shen said during the all-candidates debate. Although Shen lost to Skelton, her creative campaign did catch student’s attention and a candid photo of her was snapped and posted on overheard, garnering support and votes from those students that liked and commented on the post.

Kimmi Snider, who ran against opponent Peter Miller for Academic & University Affairs Commissioner, was endorsed by the Interhall Council (IHC) and received permission to use mascot heads from IHC President, Kat Lucas, and her board. Snider chose to use different mascot heads from each residence with her campaign team as a fun way to get student’s attention. Snider also posted updated copies of her budget on her Facebook page to increase accountability and transparency. “Students don’t know that candidates have a $200 budget for campaigning. I believe that students have the right to know what I am using their fees on”, said Snider. As part of a requirement for a fair election, CSA election policy states that candidates must expense absolutely all materials regardless if they already have things like scrap construction paper available at home. Despite Snider’s unsuccessful campaign and eventually lost to her opponent, Miller, a long time veteran campaigner who had ran for an executive role on the CSA for three years, she says that she could not be thankful enough for the experience.

On the issue regarding voter turnout, Snider shared, “based on what I observed on social media, and the one-on-one talks I had engaged in with students before, during and after campaigning, students shared with me that they are not seeing enough progress or positive change on campus and so they tend not to vote”.

“I can’t believe all of the opportunities I have been given including meeting Kathleen Wynne, Peter Kent, and Elizabeth May” Snider said as she reflected on her week of campaigning, “I cannot thank enough people for the last week and [all of] their support and can’t imagine getting the same outstanding experience anywhere else”. Snider is looking forward to returning back home to St. Catharines in April and is continuing her pursuit to enrich student’s lives by applying to other student life related jobs.

Colin Morris, also had a creative and fun outreach which resulted in a rather successful win over his opponent, David Alton, for the position of Human Resources & Operations Commissioner. Morris made business card-sized papers and stapled them onto pixie sticks purchased from the Dollarama store. He handed them out to students all over campus while taking the time to speak to students about his platform. Morris intends to improve student as well as study space on campus, and had previously been involved in providing additional tables and furniture updates in the MacKinnon building this past summer alongside the College of Arts Student Union President, Jessica Adams. Morris and Adams successfully raised a total of $36,000 from college governments, the CSA, Bullring, as well as University Administration for the MacKinnon student space project.

After the release of the unofficial results, Morris took the opportunity to express gratitude on Facebook, “I want to take a minute and thank everyone that helped me on my campaign last week as well as the students that voted for me. I am super excited to be working with the CSA staff and the Guelph students to help improve the campus”.

Like last year, the role for the CSA External Affairs Commissioner was again uncontested. Sonali Menezes, won without much competition. “I [am] passionate about engaging students with the issues that matter most,” Menezes shared as part of her platform, “connecting with students across the country is important…especially [to] lobby the provincial and federal government to prioritize student issues. I’m committed to pursuing anti-hate campaigns [as well as] in building a more resilient and sustainable campus community”.

Finally, three candidates contested the Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner position by River Roy, Sonia Chwalek, and Matthew Brown. All candidates were no strangers to the CSA and student life. Chwalek, who received the most number of votes shared, “It was a challenge, and extremely tiring, however it was also extraordinarily exhilarating. Being able to speak to classes and interact with students one-on-one, sharing the work I was excited about doing through the position, was by far my favourite part”. In addition to classroom talks, Chwalek also did daily vlog updates similar to Snider, and also had backpack flags to give out to students supporting her.

Additionally, Chwalek’s opponents, Roy and Brown shared that campaign week had no doubt been stressful. “But it was definitely a great experience,” said Roy, who is currently an active CSA board member, as well as the Vice President of the College of Arts Student Union (CASU). During campaign week, Roy had also been balancing other commitments that week, preparing for the juried art show the next week, while organizing meetings and other duties for CASU. Nonetheless, Roy shared with her supporters “I really want to thank everyone for their support and love, I appreciated it so much and you helped me get through the craziest campaigning that I’ve ever had to do!” Brown also shared his thoughts after an incredibly close race to Chwalek, “Respect to those who play the fair game.” Said Brown, who lost to his opponent by 112 votes. “Despite the competitive nature of the process. I would be amiss to also not mention how hugely appreciative I am of all those around me” Chwalek shared with theCannon.

Both successful and unsuccessful candidates also took some extra time to share with theCannon a few pointers to those looking to run for the CSA next year. “Plan,” stressed Morris, “take as much time as you can to plan out what you’re going to do for your campaign, do all your school work, and make the effort to go into absolutely every building on campus and talk to as many students as you can’t” said Morris, “don’t just stay in one building”.

“Have lots of fun but start early,” said Roy, “take the opportunity to talk to the current executives, especially the one that you are interested in running for, about what they do and attend board meetings”. Snider wanted to let students know that “campaign week is a rollercoaster…you will get upset, but you will also have a lot of fun” she said, “but keep your head up high through it all, and you have to know to relax”.

Chwalek also highly encouraged students to get involved to run for CSA and said “Absolutely go for it!” she said, “there are a lot of opportunities to get involved, and not all require the same time commitment, skills/knowledge, or level of dedication, so regardless of your individual circumstance, there is definitely a way in which you can participate”. Chwalek is a first year student and with the current unofficial result of the general elections, will be taking on a full-time position as the Communications & Corporate Affairs Commissioner next year. “Personally, as a first year student I initially felt a bit out of place at the university, and it was not until I became involved, with the CSA through the “Tap In!” campaign, among other things, that I began to feel at home. I believe cultivating this sense of belonging for all students is truly important, and as the student union on campus, the CSA has an important role to play in this. There is amazing opportunity to not only connect directly with students, but also to help facilitate connecting students with their peers, and groups, clubs, and services, on and off campus.”

For more information about the CSA General Elections this year, visit: http://www.csaonline.ca/general-elections-2014/

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  1. Posted by: Sonia Chwalek on Mar 29, 2014 @ 11:50am

    Hey there, I love the article! I just wanted to clarify though that I am a second year student. I was simply referring to my first year experience. :)

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