UMSU For You has successfully swept the 2020 UMSU general elections, taking all five executive positions.
The slate is led by current UMSU vice-president student life Jelynn Dela Cruz, the only returning executive. She will shift to the role of president in the coming weeks.
Dela Cruz is excited to take the step up to president as the only incumbent member of her executive. She gives credit to her experience as VPSS in how she approached campaigning.
“Being an incumbent, one of the biggest advantages is definitely having the institutional knowledge behind you and having projects already on the ground that you ultimately would want to continue,” she said.
She had positive words for all candidates, stating that “everyone in this election wanted to run to better the student experience.”
All three presidential candidates in the running are women of colour. Sia Yamba ran with the Connect UMSU slate, Samantha Nicole Tumlos with Our UMSU and Dela Cruz headed up UMSU For You.
Dela Cruz expressed that this historic presidential ticket consisting solely of women of colour was “incredibly powerful”.
“Just taking a step back and realizing how momentous of an election this really will be and how historic it is for this organization,” she said.
“Regardless of who would’ve been elected in this election, it would have been a woman of colour who can bring that lived experience to the table and advocate from a perspective that is whole and unique to her own [experiences].”
She noted that previous UMSU executives have weathered criticisms surrounding a lack of representation, a non-issue in this election which saw people of colour, women and international students elected to the executive.
Dela Cruz also gives credit to her now-executive team, saying them not being incumbents help her gain an “outsider’s perspective” on issues.
“One of the most refreshing things about having them on the team and being the only incumbent on the team is that sometimes executives can be stuck in this student-political bubble.”
“I think that with this current team that I believe in so strongly, they’re incredibly experienced and well-versed in many student issues.”
She said two pressing issues her executive wants to target is accessibility and the threat to the U-Pass program, which is a part of their commitment to sustainability.
“What we just recently saw, the city is threatening the U-Pass, for example,” she said. “After we had a record turnout of students who were willing to increase the fee just to keep an essential service.”
With accessibility, their approach will be “multi-pronged.”
“You can tackle that from all things, from mental health, physical health, financial aid, as well as simply having the resources at your fingertips in order to access what’s there already for you,” said Dela Cruz.
Her executive will include vice-president student life Savannah Szocs, vice-president community engagement Tino Dogo, vice-president finance and operations Brendan Scott and vice-president advocacy Kristin Smith.
UMSU For You took in far more votes than any of its competitors. In the presidential race, Dela Cruz won out with 3,215 votes, while Connect UMSU’s Sia Yamba took 1,089 votes and Our UMSU’s Samantha Nicole Tumlos pulled in 1,079 votes. Abstentions totalled 972.
Tumlos had encouraging words for all the candidates.
“At the end of the day, every single person who ran had the courage to kind of speak out about these issues and about these problems,” she said “I would only hope for the winning slate […] would seriously take into consideration every other ideas that were also […] thrown [on] the table.”
Tumlos said she enjoyed the opportunity to connect with a wide range of students on the campaign floor.
“It was never really about winning or losing,” Tumlos continued. “I think the biggest thing about it, for us is the fact that we were able to go out there and talk to people.”
The tightest race was for vice-president finance and operations, where UMSU For You’s Brendan Scott took 2,937 votes, followed by independent Honour Ojo’s 1,357 votes and Connect UMSU’s Tino Hove’s 968. There were 1,093 abstentions in this contest.
Four community representatives ran unopposed and won their respective races.
Alicia Kubrakovich will be returning as Indigenous students’ representative, Trevor Smith will return as LGBTTQ* representative, Judith Oviosun will be the new womyn’s representative and Adrian Esenwah will be the new international students’ representative.
The mature students’ representative position and accessibility community representative positions each had no nominees. Both positions will remain vacant for the time being.
Voter turnout was slightly down from last year. UMSU’s 2019 general election saw 28.5 per cent of eligible electors turn out to vote. In 2020, 27.7 per cent of eligible electors participated in the UMSU general elections.