Feds hosted the Services Debate Feb. 3, where Feds services — the GLOW Centre for Sexual and Gender Diversity, Feds Off Campus Community, Feds Student Food Bank, UW Campus Response Team, the Women’s Centre, and the Sustainable Campus Initiative — were able to ask questions of Teams Nova, Spark, and Green ahead of the 2014 elections.
GLOW raised concerns during the debate regarding Feds services being unable to operate between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. as well as advocacy for queer and trans students federally and provincially.
GLOW expressed interest in providing services during off-hours, yet Elizabeth McFaul, vice-president operations and finance (VPOF) candidate for Team Nova and Ben Balfour, VPOF candidate for Team Spark, both expressed safety concerns at having GLOW offices open overnight, citing that students may be targeted.
Renish Kamal, vice-president education (VPED) candidate for Team Spark, on the subject of advocacy for queer and trans students, focused on advocating with the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance (OUSA) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) to advocate to the federal and provincial government on the inclusivity of queer and trans people.
Stephane Hamade, VPED candidate for Team Green, stated that he had gone to an OUSA general meeting where advocacy for queer and trans people was raised as an issue and suggested working on a “policy paper that includes these issues” which “would probably be very effective in making this change.”
Feds Student Food Bank
The Feds Student Food Bank expressed worries regarding food assistance on campus and being able to reach out to the wider student base without stigma.
Luke McIntosh, VPED candidate for Team Nova, said that students are being penalized for working part-time. “Students get OSAP and they need to get a part-time [job]…and their OSAP gets driven down,” McIntosh said. “[Students need to receive] enough money from OSAP to be successful and still be able to put food on the table.”
Hamade added, “There are students who are working and that reduces their OSAP. Making sure people aren’t penalized for working [is important].”
Kamal took another approach saying Feds should work with the Student Success Office on providing budgeting classes, so students can better manage the money they do have.
Moe Bdeir, presidential candidate for Team Green, took a very strong stance on the Food Bank. “I’m…ashamed that the Food Bank has been shoved away in places that students can’t even see and can’t even go to. And a lot of students are even embarrassed to go there and ask for food,” Bdeir said. “Poverty is a really sensitive issue for students… and getting assistance is something really hard for students to do.”
Danielle Burt, presidential candidate for Team Spark, also highlighted the need for collaboration with municipal food banks in reaching students who are off-campus, and in Kitchener and Cambridge.
UW Campus Response Team
The UW Campus Response Team (UWCRT) grilled candidates on their support for UWCRT’s goal of attaining first responder status, the role of the services manager, and safety on campus.
Maaz Yasin, vice-president internal (VPIN) candidate for Team Spark and the current director of advocacy and promotions at the UWCRT, said he wanted to “ensure the services manager transitions the International Students and Canadian network [club] into a service.... and potentially a WalkSafe program.”
Balfour, however, pushed advocating with Health Services. “Dr. [Barbara] Schumacher is somebody that you guys have been going back and forth with in order to get first responder upgrade. She’s a person we could definitely help you guys negotiate with.” Bdeir also agreed that Feds should support UWCRT in attaining this certification.
McFaul suggested UWCRT offer its services off campus and as a WalkSafe foot patrol.
Jesse McGinnis, presidential candidate for Team Nova, provided a vision for the UWCRT: “I think you guys [are] one of the services that’s very knowledgeable about what’s necessary for good safety. Help us in guiding the direction that we go in as an organization and shaping what other safety initiatives look like.”
Natalie Kemp, director of membership for UWCRT, declined to comment on UWCRT’s response to the candidates’ ideas.
The Women’s Centre asked candidates whether the values of the Women’s Centre — on issues ranging from “women’s health to sexual violence” — should be applied universally across campus.
“One of the committees that the VPED sits on is the tenures and promotions committee, and that’s obviously been a concern in the past and potentially a continuing concern that there aren’t enough female professors. [We want] to ensure in the hiring process, that it is equal, and that there is no racism or sexism,” Hamade said.
McIntosh echoed that sentiment, adding: “We saw that you would like to be members of the status of women and equity committee which is part of the faculty association. We think this is extremely important.”
Off Campus Community
The Off Campus Community (OCC) raised concerns of how to target first-years, especially those who do not attend orientation week and do not get engaged with OCC from the get-go.
Anjali Gopal, VPIN candidate for Team Nova, said, “OCC… builds that kind of community atmosphere. Especially for students who are living off campus in first year, it’s really hard to meet people.”
Yasin acknowledged the difficulties OCC faces in targeting students: “Many dons and co-ordinators have expressed concerns that they’re not supported enough.” His future plans included getting OCC involved in the “first steps of orientation week.”
On the issue of how to better reach students, Saleem Khan, VPIN candidate for Team Green, said that “[OCC] should [have] a better way of marketing so that first year students are better aware that they have the OCC on their behalf to deal with their situations.”
Davin Singh, an OCC don, commented on his perspectives on the candidates responses to OCC’s concerns. “The candidate that was most prepared was Maaz [Yasin]. He knew the most about the services; he also knew the most about the OCC.”
On Gopal and Khan’s candidature, he believed they weren’t aware of OCC’s mission. “The other two candidates, Anjali — she didn’t really know what OCC was… And the other candidate, Saleem Khan… actually thought we were part of off campus housing.”
Singh also wished to clear up McGinnis’ statement in saying that compiling a list of all off-campus students would take work: “We’ve actually done our research on it, and actually the lists do exist, we just require access to them. That’s all. Not as much work is required.”
Sustainable Campus Initiative
Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI), formerly known as the UW Sustainability Project, asked candidates on their views on sustainable purchasing, banning water bottles on campus, and waste and water management. Balfour and McFaul were wary of the potential costs involved.
“What it really comes down to is, is it within both the budget and as well the company that you’re dealing with,” Balfour said, citing that as International News is a franchise, Feds would have to lobby them to make more sustainable choices.
McFaul brought up replacing the current take-out containers at the Bomber with a more sustainable yet more expensive option, as well as providing coffee and doughnut shops around campus with sustainable purchase information.
All candidates agreed to consider banning the sale of water bottles on campus and encouraging students to bring their own refillable water bottles.