Along with the five incoming UMSU executives elected, voters also acclaimed four student representatives for the roles of students living with disabilities representative, women’s representative, international students’ representative and LGBTT* students’ representative.
Student representatives ran unopposed and had to win a vote of confidence. Only students who are a part of the communities they represent are asked to vote, through a process of self-identification on the ballot.
LGBTT* representative candidate Kyle St. Godard received a 93.9 per cent vote of confidence, while Bilan Arte, who ran for women’s representative, won with 91.1 per cent of the votes from people identifying as female.
Incumbent Bryan Douglas, who is the current students living with disabilities representative, will return after receiving a 86.4 per cent “yes” vote, and Ramogi Nyonje will become the new international students’ representative after he got a 84.9 per cent vote of confidence.
Douglas said that he “found the election to have more energy and excitement this year than last year. The three slates that ran did an amazing job getting their message out.”
“I am very confident that myself and Working Together will strive to work together and get things accomplished for the disability community.”
Douglas plans to continue representing his community to the standard that they have come to expect from him, and wanted to let the voters that supported him in the election know that he is thankful for their votes.
Incoming international students’ representative Ramogi Nyonje wanted to give special thanks to his campaign team for all the hard work and to the voters for coming out to vote.
“It is always encouraging to have a good voter turnout because it shows people care about student affairs. I particularly want to thank those that voted ‘yes’,” said Nyonje.
Nyonje, however, was disappointed by the few “no” votes he collected, especially because he ran uncontested.
“I hereby urge them to come meet with me, so we can discuss how I can be a representative that they want,” said Nyonje.
Nyonje also said that he was looking forward to working with Working Together, the successful slate, and said, “That’s exactly what I hope to get from them, teamwork to deliver promises we made during the campaigns.”
In his campaign, Nyonje discussed how he hoped to utilize Facebook to unite students and said that his plans had not changed.
“One of my most important goals is to unite, and I talked about how Facebook will be playing a big role in our ‘unity’ mission, by being a fast and effective form of communication amongst students [ . . . ],” explained Nyonje.
“The Facebook group is now up and running, and at this stage we want to collect as many international student members on it as possible. So, hey international students! Search and request to join ‘International students of U of M’ and let our journey begin.”
Kyle St. Godard ,the next LGBTTQ* representative, felt this election went very well and thought it was great that three slates and an independent candidate participated.
St. Godard said that while in office, he would like to acquire a larger space for the Rainbow Pride Mosaic (RPM), because its membership is growing. He would also like to look into safe-space training for student resource groups.
“I think safe-space training would benefit all student resource members by giving each student the tools to help maintain a safe space,” said St. Godard, explaining that safe-space training would ensure that trained students would be able to handle situations where someone was insulted or inappropriate words were used.
Students with the training would have the knowledge to return the affected space back to a safe space, by tactfully diffusing the issue.
St. Godard said one of his other big goals was to boost awareness on campus so that if anyone is in need of support or just wishes to meet new people, they know that the RPM is a safe space, filled with helpful resources.
Incoming women’s representative Bilan Arte received 792 votes, the most votes out of all the student representative candidates.
“That is amazing! It is not surprising given that recent estimates show our total female student population is at about 52 per cent, but I still feel quite honoured and very inspired to do my best this year and represent those voices,” said Arte.
Arte said that her first priority for next year is to raise awareness about the Womyn’s Centre on campus and other women’s-only spaces in the city through advertising. She is also looking forward to representing the voices of female students at council meetings and hopes to improve relations amongst the various women’s communities on campus by effectively communicating any present concerns.
“To all those women out there who voted — and even to those who didn’t — thank you. I look forward to working with and meeting you all in the up coming months and into the new year,” said Arte.