TCSA Candidate Platforms 2014

Executive Positions


Braden Freer

Hello Trent! I am the incumbent Vice President of Campaigns and Equity, and I am endeavouring to be the next President of the TCSA. I am currently a fourth year business administration and ancient greek and roman studies double major. If elected this would be my third year on the TCSA Board of Directors – second year as an executive – and fourth year being involved in student governance at Trent. In that time I have been a student senator, a Gzowski College Cabinet member, an official visitor to the Board of Governors, a primary organizer of student events for the 50th Anniversary, as well as a TCSA Board member. I believe my abundant experience at Trent makes me an excellent candidate for the TCSA Presidency.

Tuition prices are out of control. As the VP Campaigns & Equity I ran a campaign raising awareness and protesting the ever increasing fees students have to pay in order to obtain a Post-Secondary education; this campaign continues to petition the university administration and provincial government to stand beside student in our call for a more affordable education. Working with the Canadian Federation of Students we have joined the student movement calling for a more fair system and easily accessible education.

A campaign is no longer enough. A divided focus is no longer adequate to challenge increasing tuition. The TCSA as an organization needs to make one of its primary goals the freeze, and eventual reduction in tuition fees along with alternative funding to universities and colleges. We need to be more active in our advocacy and lobbying efforts to ensure that all people have the opportunity to be a student without fear of an overburdened debt load. As President I would ensure that an increased amount of resources are allocated to this goal, and lead the executive and the board in an all encompassing effort to address the most widespread issue students are facing.

The TCSA is on the cusp of great change. In the past few years we have went through an extensive set of executive restructures. We went from a system with three Vice Presidents to two, only to completely remove one of the two and restructure a new position. Now the executive structure is one that can handle an expanding TCSA, as we will do with the coming Student Centre. Now we must focus on our internal governance structure and ensure that it can handle further expansions to the services our members want. In conjunction with this review, the TCSA needs commit to supporting the issues our members see as important and ensure that we become much more than an event planner. Our services are in a spot where they are firmly grounded, but the events we do put on need to be consolidated and we need to expand the campaigns, advocacy and lobbying we do on behalf of Trent students.

Vice-President Campaigns and Equity:

Boykin Smith

I am a second year international student from The Bahamas, pursuing a degree in Political Studies with a minor in Economics. This year I served as the International Students Equity Commissioner, the Interim Vice President Campaigns & Equity and the Membership Officer for UNICEF Trent.

My experience as a director on the Board has been wonderfully challenging and it is only with your support that I may continue working for the TCSA and our entire student body. Overall this year has been a great learning and self-developing experience for me and I have decided to run for this position for the following reasons: 1) I genuinely care about student representation on campus! 2) I have experience: As a member of the TCSA’s ISW staff, an equity commissioner, Interim V.P. Campaigns & Equity, and a delegate for the Canadian Federation of Students’ (CFS) National General Meeting (2013), I had the opportunity to learn about what the TCSA’s purpose and duties are for its students. 3) I believe in a student’s union that has its own voice and does not conform to any injustices!

If elected, I will focus the objectives of TCSA’s campaigns on addressing issues that are prevalent within our student body such as: tuition fees, food services, environmental sustainability, self-identity, anti-racism, cultural awareness, and OHIP for International Students. The TCSA is a student union that operates on behalf of student’s interest and wellbeing. Therefore it is my duty to put student’s interest first at all times and run appropriate campaigns, events and other initiatives that advocate for students’ wellbeing.

In addition, the TCSA is very dependent on its members to develop campaigns, events, and services. Students are the ones responsible for ensuring that the TCSA stays relevant and reflects the social, economic and political interest of the vast majority of students, while improving overall student life at Trent University. Therefore my goal is to: remind students of the purpose and duties of their student union; offer volunteer opportunities for students who are more inclined to aid TCSA’s goals; and engage students in campaigns through innovative means such as competitions, photos and videos, open forums and new social media applications.

I will aim to work alongside and support the efforts of CFS and our Equity Commissioners. It is through these channels that the TCSA can promote a more equitable campus, reach out to marginalized groups and tackle serious issues within Canada’s public education system. I also believe that the TCSA must maintain a positive and active relationship with other levy groups on campus, thereby working to develop our community and those students who are involved in community initiatives.

As your candidate, I welcome students’ opinions and recognize that the TCSA is only as strong as its membership, so getting involved and active participation is crucial to our success. So thank you for reading about what I would like to do for you and I hope I’ve earned your vote and support.

Erika Butler

Hi everyone! My name is Erika and I’m running for the position for Vice President of Campaigns and Equity. I am currently in my second year majoring in English Literature and minoring in history. This year I have been able to gain valuable experience through my work with Gzowski College cabinet, representing Gzowski students on the university Senate. As well as sitting on Senate, I also sat as the Vice Chair for the Student Senate Caucus. My work with cabinet, caucus, and Senate has given me the opportunity to work with other students, faculty, and administration during the drafting and feedback process of the Strategic Mandate Agreement. These experiences have allowed me to see the great opportunities and ways that Trent students can use their voices and get involved with things like the SMA.

If I should be elected for this position I would like to look at three key aspects of the university that are currently affecting students. The first is tuition increase. Every year our tuition can be raised up to 3% without the students knowing of who or why this decision is made. I plan to work with the students to create more opportunities to voice their opinion about these increases, as well as working together to freeze our tuition. I would like to provide students with information regarding tuition hikes, including who is responsible for these changes, and encouraging students to speak their minds.

The second aspect I would like to work with is program prioritization. With on-going decisions being made for the Strategic Mandate Agreement, there is the strong possibility of certain programs being cut or modified. These changes could drastically effect the Trent community as a whole, and especially students in the humanities and liberal arts programs. With the job market changing more and more focus is being placed on programs in the sciences, mathematics, and business programs. Program prioritization can take away from the overall experience that any student has when they come to Trent, and it would become increasingly difficult for students to take both arts and science courses. I plan to work with students to show them what can be done with their degree, regardless of what program they are in.

The final aspect I would like to look at links in with both tuition increases and program prioritization. It’s the student voice. We are fortunate enough to go to a school where students are able to speak up about the issues that concern them, however many students are unaware of what the issues are and who they can approach with their concerns. Many students were either uninformed or uneducated as to what the Strategic Mandate Agreement was and what they could do about it. I would like to create a more open communication line between the students and the issues. I plan to work with the TCSA commissioners throughout their own campaigns to educate the students and create more educated awareness and activism on campus.

Vice-President University & College Affairs:

Mayra Asmar

Hello Students of Trent University. You and I have something in common and that’s that we both are part of this beautiful university and the educational experience that is Trent. I’m currently in the Compressed Nursing Program. I have a general degree from Trent in Biology-Psychology. I would love to represent you and your ideas in the position of Vice President University and College Affairs, or VPUC for short.

I am enthusiastic, reliable and enjoy working in teams. I have experience as a past Introductory Seminar Week staff member and Co-chair, as an executive member of the Trent University Emergency First Response Team and have also been involved with different clubs throughout my time at Trent. I’m currently the clubs coordinator for the TCSA and have learned a lot about the position of VPUC and I am ready to take on this larger role.

The motto for the TCSA when translated from Latin is “United we are Stronger” and as VPUC I hope to help strengthen the Trent community by being a communication bridge between college communities and the larger Trent community. I plan to work alongside the Clubs Coordinator to assist clubs in event planning, budgeting and overall impact they have on the Trent community and continuing to build on current relationships. I will represent Trent on committees in a positive manner and voice my concerns and the concerns of students when unable to do so themselves.

In order to be successful as VPUC I will listen to you, the students, and take skills learned from previous experiences and use them in this position. I will use my drive and love for Trent to do the best I can in this position, and ensure a variety of events to engage students. I will work as a team with executives, board members and at all times remembering that I am representing the Trent Central Student Associations members, you.

Equity Commissioner Positions

Anti-Racism Commisioner:

Kenny Onabolu

Hello my fellow Trent University students. I am a 1st year BBA specializing in Marketing currently staying in Peter Gzowski residence. I partake in various different sports and activities during my spare time at Trent. However I really enjoy basketball, football, soccer, volleyball and sports that involve physical activity outdoors or indoors. Even though Trent did not have the main sports I enjoy playing as a varsity team I chose to come to Trent because I knew it would be a great place for me to learn and enjoy.

So far I have had many amazing memories at Trent and look forward to make even more throughout my stay here. I know Trent has many more great experiences to offer me.

Throughout my past I have experienced racism in different ways, through racial slurs, discrimination, and limitations because of my skin color. Instead of letting them bring me down, I used it as fuel to keep going to prove the doubters wrong. I have been involved in different groups in elementary school and high school to help inform the students about the history of racism and how it can affect us all in many different ways.

Workshops to bring different ethnic groups together to put aside the racial differences and work together as one. If I were elected I will use my  strong interpersonal, analytical and uncompromising critical thinking skills to address  all issues that concern racism. Also with great ability to compare and contrast key ideas. These qualities will make me an ideal candidate for TCSA Anti- Racism Commissioner because I will inform the Trent  community the negative effects racism has had on people of our society today and if racism were to stop there would be many more opportunities for these people to achieve.

I want to promote equality within different ethnic groups bringing them together to set aside the differences they have and make us all one big family. I want to make help make Trent a community where all races can get along with each other without any negativity.

Trent is a diverse University and having racism still being a big factor in our community is not something that should continue with students coming from different parts of the world. I’m sure they want to come and have a good university experience without feeling left out or scared interacting with different races.Together as one we can help stop racism in the Trent community.

Indigenous Students Commissioner:

Karly DeCaire

I am a third-year Indigenous Studies major/Concurrent Education student. I am a Mohawk woman from Wahta Mohawk Territory, and I am a part of the Bear Clan. As an Aboriginal woman, I am conscious of the importance of an Aboriginal voice within the university.

As a member of the Trent University Native Association (TUNA), I have been involved with lots of the events that have been put on this school year. I was elected within the group in September as the Events Coordinator as well as the Third-Year Representative for the 2013-2014 school year. Along with some other members of the group, I helped organize the annual Thanksgiving dinner and set up various fundraising booths throughout the year. I was a volunteer for the Elder’s Gathering: helping out with fundraising, aiding in facilitating a Haudenosaunee social dancing workshop, and being an Elder’s helper for the afternoon. I actively participate in events for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students such as weekly fancy shawl dancing, weekly Haudenosaunee social dancing, and all of the events put on by First Peoples House of Learning.

I am passionate about equity and equality for Aboriginal students within the Trent community. If I were to be elected as the Indigenous Students Commissioner I would use this opportunity to promote equality and fairness to Aboriginal students. I would like to create an Aboriginal awareness week in order to promote Indigenous knowledge campus-wide. I would like to shed light on some of the issues Aboriginal people are facing in society today, and promote the importance of Aboriginal cultures and languages.

I would continue to be a member of the Trent University Native Association, and will use that role to bring the work of TUNA. to the greater Trent community. If elected as the Indigenous Students Commissioner, I will work alongside TUNA to ensure any issues and concerns, as well as important events are shared with TCSA in order to assure the ideas or issues are being heard. I will continue to be involved with the Aboriginal community at Trent, and will also continue to participate in events put on by First Peoples House of Learning, as well as the Indigenous Studies department. I will make sure Aboriginal student voices are being heard at Trent!

Bobby Henry

I am from Six Nations of The Grand River Territory. Growing up on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory allowed me to establish a deep understanding of Indigenous Knowledge and allowed me to become fluent in my language of Cayuga. I attended the Cayuga Immersion program on Six Nations of the Grand River Territory and I received the Kelli Anne Greene Scholarship when I graduated my final year of high school. The Kellie Anne Greene Scholarship is awarded to a student who presents a good mind. A good mind represents someone who is capable of promoting positive outcomes and thinking of matters in a positive perspective.

I participated and continue to contribute to my home community by volunteering during ceremonies and adding to the teaching and use of the Cayuga language. This connection to an Indigenous culture makes me value the significance of Indigenous Peoples and ways of life. Currently, I am involved with Trent University Native Association (TUNA) holding the second year representative position and looking to contribute more of my involvement to the Trent community as the Indigenous Students Commissioner.

For the past two summers, I have worked at the Woodland Cultural Centre as a Museum Assistant. This position offered me the chance to work with renowned artist, Shelly Niro and to partake in the Planet IndigenUs Festival, 2012. I believe being employed at the Woodland Cultural Centre increased my conception of Indigenous history and cultural understanding. Prior to being employed with the Woodland Cultural Centre, I created and operated my own business selling baked goods. Skills with operating my own business will make me great for the Indigenous Students Commissioner because I will be capable of public speaking and managing budgets associated while working for the TCSA. My current employment is a tutor through First Peoples House of Learning for the Mohawk Language Class.

As the Indigenous Students Commissioner, my goals are to encourage the Trent and surrounding communities to become mindful of current Indigenous awareness and issues. One cause I will look into, as Indigenous Students Commissioner will be the significance of the Murdered and Missing Aboriginal Women across Canada. I will access support for reaching my goals by engaging with TUNA and other Indigenous resources on campus, such as the First Peoples House of Learning and the Indigenous Studies Department.

Part of my tasks as the Indigenous Students Commissioner is to reach out to other Indigenous groups in Peterborough such as Niijkiwendedaa, Nogojiwanong, Curve Lake, Alderville First Nation, and Hiawaths First Nation and I look forward to creating a viable means of communication between them and the TCSA. Being the Indigenous Students Commissioner, It would be an honour to attend the National Aboriginal Caucus for the Canadian Federation of Students as a representative of the Indigenous students of Trent University. With the goal of adding my unique lens to the discourse of Aboriginal issues across the country I believe I can make a difference.

Ethical Standards Commissioner:

Alaine Spiwak

I am a second year student studying International Development and Politics. I have a passion for travel, playing soccer, and volunteering locally and abroad. I love to stay involved with things going on at school. This position is a perfect fit for me because as an IDST and Politics major the issues surrounding ethics and equality can be the main focus of my studies. Through my travels of South America and Africa I have seen first hand the extreme cycle of poverty that awaits many underpaid factory workers and farmers that produce goods and services that are consumed in North America.

I am passionate about ensuring our school does everything it can to promote fair trade products and initiatives to combat the injustices going on around the world.

Besides ensuring our school complies with fair trade and ethical standards (I would personally like to focus on the products and clothing sold at the book store), I would also love to work with school groups and clubs to host a variety of campaigns and events to educate students on ethical purchasing options. Promoting campaigns that support fair working conditions within the university will be something I will look to do, along with promoting buying organic and local products at the Farmer’s Market.

With my combination of personal experience, education, and passion I am confident I will be able to fulfill the duties of Ethical Standards Commissioner. I am a dedicated hard worker, but I also know how to have fun – which is an important part of anything you do! I look forward to this upcoming year at Trent, meeting all of you, and making our school a better place for all.

Ted Cooke

I’m a transfer student from the University of Guelph, where I studied the liberal arts for 3 semesters. I took various courses in psychology, politics, marketing, and economics. Here at Trent, I’ve taken a 180 degree turn and am now majoring in mathematical computer science.

My interest in this position stems from my deep-seeded interest in ethical systems, morals, religious worldviews, and religious psychogenesis. My interest in ethics has lead me into the deep, and often controversial world of politics, where I’ve seeked ethical answers about how to govern 35,000,000 Canadians in the most equitable way possible.

Having taken multiple courses, and volunteering for both the federal and provincial Liberals in their respective last election campaigns, then having experimented with other political ideologies such as socialism and libertarianism, I have learned of the importance of always respecting opposing viewpoints just as much as I respect my own viewpoints, and allowing them to be heard just as clearly.

My interest in ethics has also lead me to explore  religions, and how they define right and wrong, or if there even is an absolute right and wrong that’s not relevant to society and culture. From my extremes of zealous evangelist, to liberal agnostic, and now back towards some moderate halfway point, I’ve learned much about people’s ideas of what is right and the many ways people justify their own sense of ethics.

If elected as ethical standards commissioner, I promise to use my position to first and foremost insure students have a place to come when they believe they’ve been treated unethically, whether it is by a professor, a TA, a don, or even a friend. I will do my best to provide an open ear to hear their story, and resolve the situation. Things I could do to help might include: speaking to the authority person in question; acting as a moderator should both sides agree to it; assisting the student in filing complaints with relevant campus offices. I would also organise campaigns to raise awareness about recourses of action, such as the office of human rights, among others.

Students with Disabilites Commisioner:

Clarissa Rueckwart

I am a second year Forensics and Anthropology major student going into third year. I have a disability called Cerebral Palsy and I also live with mental challenges such as anxiety as well. I am running for Students with Disabilities Commissioner for my second term because although Trent has made an improvement towards accessibility there is still much more that can be done towards other barriers that students face with.

This year was fantastic as I was able to put in the idea and help get the ball rolling for a van to help students get around campus as it is highly inaccessible campus. The Mv1 van is a great accomplishment and it was great to see it get officially launched in October of 2013, and the greatest reward is to hear back from the students on how helpful a service like this is and not just for those who have a disability but also for those who temporarily require assistance from an injury.

As a student living with multiple types of disabilities I am able to relate closely with those I represent and speak for. This year for me was to focus on how we can limit the accessibility issue and to start thinking about stigma and awareness; however having the van driving around campus serves a dual purpose. One is to help those with accessibility issues and two it does raise awareness that there are students here that need a little more help to travel. It also sends the message that we as association, university and most importantly I am; are listening, we hear the students and we are working hard to do what we can.

Next year I have some bigger plan I’d like to see through; one is to have several awareness days through the year for many reasons. One is to let people know what’s it’s like to have a certain type of disability, to share those students stories anonymously and to educate the public about it in hopes to decrease stigma. I also would like to host events where students can step into the shoes of their peers and experience first-hand what’s like to face these challenges. I would also like to work on a survey to those with disabilities to ensure they are heard and that they can provide important feedback.

Queer Students Commissioner:

James Abbott

I have personally served on the Board of Directors for the past three years thus becoming one of the longer serving board members of the association. Throughout those three years I have sat in on many board meetings and have learned a great deal of how the TCSA operates and makes decisions concerning the student body. Along with board meetings I have also been very fortunate to sit on several sub committees that operate internally to the association and externally within the university.

I personally believe that the purpose of the TCSA is to provide a wide range of student services such as transit, health benefits and the consignment book program along with voice for the students within the university administration. As students it is important to strive to be involved in the decisions made by the university because ultimately it affects how we receive our education and the experience we receive and future students receive while attending Trent.

I feel the position I am running for is to provide further insight for the Board of Directors from our constituency as Queer Students. I find that the more informed you can be the better able you are to make a decision. I see this role as having the ability to bridge the gap between the Board of Directors and Queer Students. This position also allows for the education to the student body of Queer related issues through campaigns. I look forward to the potential of educating all students through campaigning and rising student awareness and hopefully helping everyone understanding one another.