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Meet your BoG candidates: Zamir Merali

Sunday, February 13, 2011

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Written by Greg Beneteau

Zamir Merali

BSc, Bio-Medical Science, 3rd Year

My name is Zamir Merali and I’m a 3rd year Undergraduate student. The Board of Governors is arguably the most potent decision making body in your University. Because of this, it is vital that undergraduate students are properly represented on the board. I want to not only raise awareness about the Board of Governors, but also actively seek out your opinions on the issues which are considered. Whether its tuition fee changes or program revamps, I will make every effort to inform you of which issues you have the power to influence.

The candidate provided written responses to the interview questions

2. Why do you want to sit on the University of Guelph’s Board of Governors?

Well there’s a bit of a myth that students, especially undergraduates, have a lack of interest in student politics. In my opinion this is false, there is no lack of interest it’s actually a lack of education. The board of governors has an enormous influence over the lives of the undergrads. Our quality of education and life are a direct by-product of the decisions made by the board of governors. The real issue is that students are undereducated about how much influence they have over the decisions the board of governors makes. I think that by sitting on the board of governors I’ll have an incredible platform to start to try and educate students more about campus politics and their individual power to influence the administration’s policies.

3. What experiences or skills do you have that make you an ideal candidate for the BoG?

I am currently the CBS representative on the CSA’s board of directors and this has given me the insight and experience to function in a board room setting. But more importantly, I’ve seen an idea through its evolution. I’ve seen how an idea at its rawest form can be shaped by a board, worked on and eventually come to reality in a form that has real benefits. For example, during my term as a CSA director we’ve made great steps towards making the bullring bottled water free. I’m on the bull ring independent research committee and through that I’ve seen how things have to be done in a corporate setting. With these experiences under my belt I know that no matter what challenges come up on the board of governors I’ll be able to handle it and ensure that the needs of the undergraduate students are not forgotten.

4. Can you outline some experiences that have given you knowledge of University policies and the way things are run?

Once again by sitting on the CSA board of directors I’ve had multiple experiences that gave me an insight into the universities policies. Along with that, I’ve done a substantial amount of independent reading over past University financial statements as well into the corporate and political climate of the board room. The University is run like any other corporation with similar ideals, goals and problems which have to be dealt with. I do have experience in the management portion of a corporation by working with Northway Realestate in my home town of Northbay. I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in the financial aspect of that as well as the planning and management aspect. These experiences are going to help me immensely in becoming comfortable in the board of governors.

5. What goals do you have for your term on the BoG?

My main goal during my term on the board of governors is going to be to increase the student awareness of the board. It’s a simple realization that students need to come to that they do have the power to influence administrative decisions. The university admin may project a bit of a closed door impression. But in reality, as undergrads we have every right to be involved in this decision making. My goal then is to get the undergraduates behind me and supportive of me so that when we do come up to controversial topics like tuition fees and program cuts I can make sure to work fully as a representative of the undergrads and by no means an advocate of my own opinions.

6. The undergraduate student body is huge and diverse; how will you ensure you represent the interests of students on the Board of Governors?

It’s true that the undergraduates are very diverse but there is one ideal that unites us all. We are all in the same situation and I fully believe that we all want to have our opinions heard. As long as there is a need by the students to be heard, I can do my part to make sure that they are heard. One idea that I’ve been thinking about with some other undergrads is to take advantage of the internet. This is something that in the past has been looked over. I can imagine a website in which the undergrads could be exposed to the issues that the board is considering. Then they would have a chance to participate in an online poll. That way I would be able to gather the opinions of many more students than would be possible through any other form of data collection. This would allow me to represent the undergraduate exactly how they would like to be.

7. Is there anything else you'd like to add? (Opportunity to summarize points, re-iterate positions, remind people to vote, etc.)

Well once again my name is Zamir Merali. You’ll receive a ballot in your inbox on Monday February 14th. If you want a greater transparency between you and the administration. If you want to support me in ensuring the undergrads are educated about the issues that affect them and if you want to have a real channel to get your ideas heard, I hope you will vote for me. Thank you for your time.

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