Meet the UMSU presidential candidates

Jelynn Dela Cruz (left), Sia Yamba (centre), and Samantha Nicole Tumlos (right).

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Jelynn Dela Cruz

Running on the UMSU For You slate, Jelynn Dela Cruz wants to bring her unique experience as current UMSU vice-president student life to the table as a presidential candidate and continue building on the work she started this past year.

Mental health, Indigenization and equity, diversity and inclusion on campus are issues important to the UMSU For You slate, according to Dela Cruz.

A third-year sociology and psychology student, Dela Cruz served as president of the Sociology and Criminology Students Association in the 2018-19 school year.

Dela Cruz has also participated in a variety of student clubs and associations, including chairing and sitting on various university committees, founding and heading up the Peace of Mind club, serving as a social programmer on Arts Student Body Council and as a senator on University 1 Student Council.

“As president, I would be able to further take these projects that I have started, take these projects that the [current] executive I have been a part of has begun, and really implement them next year to their fullest,” she said.

As founder and former president of Peace of Mind U of M, a student mental health advocacy group, mental health advocacy and improving access to mental health supports on campus are top of mind for Dela Cruz.

“As a mental health advocate, in the past […] five years, I have been speaking up about my own personal experiences in this care system for those with severe anxiety, who have gone through depression,” she said.

“I can bring that personal experience into the school, and ensure that the resources that were available for me and allowed me to thrive are also available for those who come long after.”

Dela Cruz, who currently sits on the university president’s task force on equity, diversity and inclusion, recently attended a conference in Ontario focusing on racism in post-secondary institutions, and wants to continue promoting diversity on campus, stressing that these issues “need to be further brought to [the] awareness of student leaders here and the student body at large.”

In September, the university issued a report detailing sexual violence on campus and 43 recommendations to combat it.

“It is extremely important and pertinent to the student body that they have an executive that will hold the administration accountable and ensure that every single recommendation is accounted for at every level of the university,” Dela Cruz said.

Acknowledging that the U of M sits on Treaty 1 territory and has the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation on its campus is significant, she said. The UMSU For You slate wants to bring more Indigenous scholars to the U of M to boost levels of representation of Indigenous academics on campus.

“It is extremely important that we’re prioritizing Indigenization and reconciliation on campuses at every level,” she said.

“That’s why I also believe that [UMSU For You] will be prioritizing Indigenous scholars so that Indigenous students will feel represented not only in the material, but the people who are delivering the material to them.”

All in all, Dela Cruz said she wants to continue working toward the broader goals she set out to achieve as vice-president student life and with the current UMSU executive.

“All of the experience that I’ve gained as vice-president student life has only highlighted to me even more how limited the time in these positions really is, and how short of a term one year truly is.”

 

Samantha Nicole Tumlos

Samantha Nicole Tumlos, an arts student in her final year of an advanced bachelor of arts in labour studies and human resources, has been involved in a myriad of student groups on campus for the past five years. She wants to infuse that experience into her bid for UMSU president as a member of the Our UMSU slate.

Tumlos has been involved in campus initiatives and groups such as Career Services, Arts Student Body Council, Commerce Students’ Association, Student Accessibility Services and the Labour Studies Students’ Association.

Running for UMSU executive is no small undertaking, and Tumlos said she is motivated by an urge to “make a positive impact in other people’s lives” and share what knowledge she has gained by studying and working on campus over the past five years.

“I want to be able to use a lot of the knowledge that I have about university policies, and running a program such as the Work-Study Program and assisting with other programs like the Career Mentor Program,” she said.

According to Tumlos, transparency within UMSU and between UMSU members is important to her and the rest of Our UMSU.

“I want to be able to share not just my successes and my achievements, but I also want to create that conversation and also share my failures as well and make that as open as possible to students,” she said.

She wants to ensure that “UMSU becomes a credible source of information for a lot of students on campus.”

Tumlos plans to prioritize advocacy and to lobby on students’ behalf at all levels of government, starting with university governance and administration all the way to the federal level. According to Tumlos, “creating awareness and ensuring that students are able to exercise their rights as students on campus” is a cornerstone of the Our UMSU campaign.

“One of the biggest things that I want to do and that our slate wants to do is to ensure that UMSU takes a strong stance, a committed stance, on behalf of our students, because neutrality has no place in a student union,” she said.

Our UMSU has outlined seven main policies on its platform for upholding students’ rights, including students’ rights to fair representation, a right to affordable and accessible education, a right to credible and accessible information, a right to fair and equitable employment and experiential opportunities on campus, a right to their own personal wellness and the wellness of the entire campus, students’ rights around sustainability and accessibility on campus and students’ rights to fair and equitable academic policies and appeals processes.

Tumlos wants to work on other issues that are affecting students too, such as the rising cost of education, career resources, equity and representation.

Rising tuition costs, students not knowing what degrees and career options are available to them and equity amongst domestic, international and Indigenous students are key concerns Our UMSU wants to address if elected, she said.

Tumlos said the way UMSU currently looks to students for much of its funding is another matter that needs to be looked at.

“That whole idea about UMSU being self-sufficient, through supporting or bolstering our on-campus resources and businesses so that we can hope and strive to kind of lower that [reliance on student fees] and make that a lot easier for students as well, to make education more affordable for them.”

 

Sia Yamba

Sia Yamba is a third-year criminology student, and serves as the current UMSU women’s representative. She wants to take her involvement in student government to the next level by running for UMSU president as a member of the Connect UMSU slate.

“We’re all running for one thing, that’s for students,” she said when asked about her motivation in running.

According to Yamba, “mental health awareness and access to bursaries and scholarships” are paramount to the Connect UMSU platform.

Yamba wants to raise awareness about the number of untapped bursaries and scholarships that are available to students.

“I know for sure that a lot of students in the University of Manitoba, they have no idea about the bursaries and scholarships and they can’t even access them because they don’t know exactly where to go,” she said.

“We want to establish a quicker access for students to get bursaries and scholarships and they can tell where exactly they should go and get those things and they can apply for them.”

“I believe every student at [the] University of Manitoba should access and apply for scholarships or bursaries.”

Textbook affordability is an issue the platform addresses, and Yamba believes the lack of affordable textbooks negatively impacts student performance.

“I feel some of the areas where most students lack and get bad GPAs and aren’t able to go forward with education [is] because they are not able to reach or get all the textbooks,” she said.

The U-Pass is another area of concern, and the way students get their U-Pass every year is something Yamba’s slate wants to change.

“It’s a crazy and unbearable lineup during U-Pass [issuing],” Yamba said, “and I want to make sure we have multiple U-Pass locations this coming year, so students don’t have to wait 15 minutes, 30 minutes getting the U-Pass, or even paid [post-secondary] bus passes just to avoid the wait.”

Yamba also wants to focus on diversity among students and having a wide variety of representation.

“Diversity, when it comes to having peers, study groups, cultures […] we can be able to have everybody in one and connect everyone.”

Yamba said she doesn’t believe UMSU is facing any serious issues in the upcoming year.

“I don’t think there will be [many] issues coming this year depending on how well we are organized as a team and how well we can put our mind to working for students and get to things that we actually […] promised,” Yamba said.

The overarching theme for Connect UMSU lies in connecting students to a variety of things.

“We want to connect [students] to various opportunities in school, we want to connect students from various cultures, we want to connect students to empower ourselves to make our university safer and more affordable,” she said.

“I want everyone’s voice to be heard.”

 

See our list of the full slates and community representative candidates here.