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Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

TCSA By-Election: The Issues Around the Ballot

Written by
and
October 15, 2020

The Trent Central Student Association (TSCA) is holding their annual Board of Directors  By-Election from Tuesday October 13 until Friday October 16 at 4:00pm. The Student Union is governed by a board of elected representatives from the membership. The Board reflects the diverse interest groups and academic faculties within the undergraduate student body. By-elections are held to fill any remaining vacant position from the April election and fill the two First-Year, On and Off Campus, Commissioner positions.

The contested board positions for the 2020 by-election are the Environment and Sustainability Commissioner, Ethical Standards Commissioner, Gender Issues Commissioner and Mature Transfer Student Commissioner. This leaves the Queer Commissioner, Part-time Student Commissioner and On and Off Campus First Year Student Commissioners vacant for the rest of the school year. There were no applicants for these positions.

TCSA By-Election: The Issues Around the Ballot
Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

These vacancies are a potential point of issue for the TSCA. The Board of Directors is organized so that no group of students is under-represented. It is important that the membership in its entirety has a place at the table. Having four vacant positions leaves a gouge and allows for blind spots in decision making. It is understandable that because of COVID-19, students are detached from the affairs of the Student Union. Nonetheless, it is disheartening that students eligible for these positions do not feel compelled to participate in their student union. It contributes to a negative feedback loop where people do not engage because they are not represented and they fall through the cracks of student governance because they have never engaged.

TCSA President, Ann-Majella McKelvie, said that “all board members and exec try to meet the needs of these demographics… Even when these positions are not filled, the TCSA's goal is to always address the needs of all students.” The vacant positions are covered by other members of the board. This is a necessary solution to an unfortunate problem. The Commissioner positions on the TCSA are an affirmative way to ensure that decisions are shared by all parts of the student body, however this ideal fails when there are not enough candidates to balance the Board of Directors.

In addition to the board positions, the Executive Health and Wellness Vice-President position is also open. The VP of Health and Wellness was a hotly contested race in the April election. Allan Fabrykant won by a small margin, campaigning on mental health awareness. In August 2020 Fabrykant posted a hyperlink with police sympathies on a page that commemorated the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was killed by police in Ferguson, Missouri. On September 6th the TCSA released a written statement which told readers that Mr. Fabrykant has apologized for this lapse in discretion and resigned from the TCSA to end the “distraction that his continued presence on the board may represent."

The VP of Health and Wellness is responsible to combat wellness related stigma, educate the membership on available resources and ensure that the Trent Student Benefits Plan is working for students.  Running for this position is Jaime Waite and Natasha Antonoff. Information about all of the candidates is available in the hyperlink below. Since the resignation of Fabrykant, the TCSA has been working hard to fulfill the mandate of the position. Regarding the vacancy of VP Health and Wellness, President McKelvie stated “we have continued to hold a good partnership with groups like Active Minds and the Wellness Centre to ensure we are meeting students' wellness needs... I am also working on a wellness check-in week for next week before reading week. This will consist of several Instagram lives with campus partners to talk about all things wellness.” It is particularly pressing that the TCSA fill this position because COVID-19 poses an unprecedented challenge to health and wellness on campus.

Visit this page to learn more about the candidates before you vote: https://trentcentral.ca/candidates.

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