For the 2024 WUSA general elections, there are 23 candidates running for 13 spots on the board of directors. Imprint visited the WUSA candidate meet & greet to speak with the candidates and understand their platforms.
Candidates are ordered alphabetically.
Sarah Ahmed is in her third year, majoring in honours biology.
Her platform focuses on improving students’ ability to navigate their programs, rebuilding WUSA’s connections with students, and improving visibility for student services including wellness services. To improve program navigation, Ahmed plans to advocate for regular check-ins with academic advisors as well as for the creation of a digital platform to track credits or prerequisites.
Ahmed has previously worked as a peer health education coordinator in UW’s health promotion department, giving her “an intimate understanding of the way the university structure operates, how concerns are handled, and what resources are available for WUSA to promote and improve upon.”
Matthew Athanasopoulos is in his second year, majoring in nanotechnology engineering.
He has three main platform points. The first one is to advocate for a freeze of fee increases for 2024-2025 on WUSA funds which have no concrete plans of utilization. The second one is to make it easier for elected student leaders to speak to the Waterloo Regional Council without the burden of unnecessary legal constraints. The last one is to advocate for improved mental health services on campus.
Matthew is currently on WUSA’s board of directors and is committed to building a strong and well-advocated WUSA for 2024-2025.
Fatima Awan is in her fourth year double majoring in political science and legal studies, with a minor in public policy and business administration.
Awan’s platforms include speaking up for students’ concerns and interests to WUSA, advocating for more mental health resources and “making campus a safe place for all students”.
She has been involved in more than 10 student clubs at UW, including leadership roles within WUSA, and promoting diversity and inclusion on the President’s Anti-racism Taskforce.
She pledged to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion on and off campus, as well as to bridge the gap between undergraduate students and student government.
Awan won the 2021 Rogers Women of the Year award in the Young Adult category, issued by the Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest. The award is given annually to women with outstanding contributions to their community.
Pranav Bedi is in his second year, double majoring in computer science and business administration.
Bedi’s main platforms are to “transform” UW to evolve beyond a “workaholic school,” improve campus safety by methods including increasing ice removal in winter and installing more lights along paths, and advocating for streamlined, rapid access to mental health services.
He has been involved in ACE Waterloo, the Computer Science Club, the Data Science Club, TEDxUW, and the UW Orbital Design Team. In addition, he has worked various internships at Sun Life as a software engineer and data analyst.
Alex Chaban (United)
Alex Chaban is in his third year, double majoring in knowledge integration and honours legal studies.
He has three main platform points: boosting undergraduate engagement in WUSA, promoting higher levels of student input across campus, and improving operation transparency by making WUSA’s inner workings as clear as possible for students.
Alex is currently on WUSA’s board of directors, and said that he has“ been working towards making WUSA as open and student-facing as possible.”
Abeer Chema is in her third year, majoring in science and business.
Cheema pledged to increase transparency and to transform WUSA through clear communication about fund use and give students a platform to influence board decisions. She said she will champion social and environmental causes while prioritizing safety and inclusivity.
She has been involved in the Campus Response Team, UWBobaTime Club, UWaterloo Muslim Students Association, the Science and Business Students’ Association, and the Waterloo Pre-Medical Club.
Chevin Jeon is in her second year, majoring in computer science.
She will advocate for increased transparency of the club’s deposit financial controls, improving students’ access to AccessAbility Services, re-evaluating counselling services’ current six-session limit, and overhauling the pProfessional dDevelopment courses to enhance their relevance and efficacy.
Jeon served as director last year, where she chaired the Audit Committee and held director-level memberships in both the Advocacy Committee and the Student Services Advisory Committee. She said she has niche knowledge of university policies and WUSA governance, and a duty to share that so it may benefit others.
Daud Khan (Renew)
Daud Khan is in his second year, majoring in systems design engineering.
He has three main platform points. The first is to abolish unfair co-op penalties and advocate for student rights. The second is to revamp WaterlooWorks by developing a new system created by skilled students and faculty. The last is to ensure that WUSA’s staff align with student interests by advocating for decisions that reflect the will of the student body.
Daud has two years of direct experience working with WUSA and the Co-operative and Experiential Education unit.
Jay Lan is in his fifth year in the mathematics and business administration double degree program with a minor in legal studies.
He has two main platform points. The first is to continue advocating for affordable education by advocating against fee increases. The second is to continue advocating for better co-op experiences through more student-friendly policies.
Lan has two years of experience on the board of directors. In those two years, he has negotiated the proposed six per cent increase in co-op fee down to four per cent, negotiated to reform consequences of reneging co-op offers on WaterlooWorks, and has successfully advocated for the inclusion of salary, location, and working mode information in job postings on WaterlooWorks. He has also pushed for and achieved an increase in the number of ‘Not Interested’ options available to students in the ranking process on WaterlooWorks.
Emma Lee (Renew)
Emma Lee is in her third year, majoring in materials and nanosciences.
She has three main platform points. The first is to improve the accessibility of UW counseling and accessibility services — students have talked about how they are not given relevant or helpful accommodations. The second is establishing fair teaching assistants’ and research assistants’ labour rights by pushing for fair wages across campus. The last is achieving intersectional justice within the university, which she said was increasingly targeting international students. Lee hopes to treat the root cause of these issues.
Lee has been involved with departmental clubs for several years. She has been the president of the Cheese Club and is currently the Chem Club President and a SciSoc BOD member.
Merochini Manohar is in her third year, majoring in kinesiology.
She is advocating for better resources for clubs and for students having more involvement, which to her means considering student opinions and taking action on them.
Manohar currently works for the promotion team that promotes events on campus such as orientations events and WUSA service clubs.
Nush Majra (Renew)
Nush Majra is in his second year of the mechatronics engineering program.
His main platform points are to improve WaterlooWorks, re-instate walk-in appointments at UW health services, and improve the structure of WUSA.
To improve WaterlooWorks, Majra hopes to instate unlimited Not Interesteds (NIs), negotiation periods, and a reporting and sanctioning mechanism against employers. He said that the current mechanisms available to students for reporting employers “don’t really work,” and that companies who abuse students should be blacklisted from the job board.
Regarding his third platform point, he said that WUSA is currently “built like a company … and the student government should not be a company… Companies don’t represent the will of the people under them. They represent the will of the owners.” Majra said that the current structure doesn’t offer a proper way to recall bad actors or distribute advocacy due to the board of directors’ fiduciary duty, and that because of the structure, much of the advocacy around changes to WaterlooWorks was done by student senators and societies rather than WUSA.
Majra is currently the director of the Waterloo Engineering Endowment Foundation and will be in the role until 2025. The foundation funds design teams along with other initiatives that “benefit the engineering student body.” He said that the funding council has approved $750,000 to provide more third places (places between work and home) for students.
Rory Norris (United)
Rory Norris is in his second year, majoring in biotechnology and chartered professional accountancy.
His first platform point is to improve affordability for students. Norris wants to ensure that students are united and have a voice on this issue. Majority of students are concerned about having enough money to complete their education. The second is to have better protections for student tenants to ensure that predatory landlords don’t take advantage of them. Norris believes that WUSA needs to continue the work that was started with the creation of the off-campus policy stance. The last is to advocate for food insecurity, student mental health, and housing. Norris wants to ensure that advocacy around these topics is always a priority.
His experience as president of WUSA has given him the knowledge to navigate WUSA and the university.
Theresa Nguyen (Renew)
Theresa Nguyen is in her second year, majoring in mechatronics engineering. Her top platform points are rejuvenating campus culture, improving WaterlooWorks, and improving affordable housing.
Nguyen explained how several factors were contributing to a “culture of isolation” at UW. “Especially after things like Hagey Hall and humanitarian crises abroad, students are kind of feeling like … ‘I’m not feeling safe. I’m not feeling advocated for.’ We had a professor in Waterloo pass away in Palestine and people weren’t really talking about that,” she said, referring respectively to the Hagey Hall stabbings last June in which three people were attacked, and the death of guest scholar Sofyan Taya, who was killed by Israeli bombings last December.
Nguyen also pointed out that academically speaking, students are “stuck in the cycle of go to class, go to work, go to the gym, go home, go sleep, go eat, repeat,” and that she wants to maintain more third places where students can “just take a step back from the grind and… just connect with other people.”
In her candidate profile, she advocates for adding mandatory pay and benefits information and an offer negotiation period to WaterlooWorks, as well as an overall need to strengthen protections against workplace harassment.
Rafaeel Rehman is in his third year, majoring in legal studies.
He has three main platform points. The first is providing more support for students that are struggling financially and making sure that student rights within the co-op program are not being violated and providing them the support they need. The second is improving accessibility on campus. Rehman echoed the concerns students have with the unclean paths on campus. The third is increasing student involvement in WUSA.
Rehman has had experience with WUSA as a student but not as an officer. He said that he has experienced issues with administration, housing, and co-op in the past like other students.
Ted Ren (United)
Ted Ren is in his second year of the political science program.
His main platform is to improve clubs’ experience within the university. Ren said that his experience as the current president of the UW Debate Club showed him why reforms are necessary, and that other club presidents and executives have expressed that the current systems are difficult to navigate. “There’s often complaints about funding, and often complaints about wait times, on how long things take. I think if those problems are removed, we could make a lot of people happy on campus,” he said.
Hafsa Mohamed Said
Hafsa Mohamed Said is in her third year, majoring in English and social developmental studies.
Her main platforms are advocating for a women’s hour at PAC, creating a platform for WUSA club presidents and WUSA to communicate better, and increasing funding for student clubs.
Rida Sayed (Renew)
Rida Sayed is in his third year of the nanotechnology engineering program. His top platform points are to engage the Co-op Experiential Education office in a way that “puts students first,” remove barriers to counselling and healthcare access, and address the weaknesses of WUSA’s new governance model while emphasizing its strengths.
In his candidate profile, Sayed wrote that he has been working with counselling services to improve wait times for appointments, and that accessing other Campus Wellness services as well as any coverage WUSA provides should be easier. According to Nick Pfeifle, Renew’s presidential candidate, Sayed along with other student leaders helped push for Campus Wellness’ former six-session limit to be dropped.
Regarding his stance on the governance model, Sayed said he would propose changes including “adding an effective counterbalance to the executive officers of WUSA” along with allowing directors to engage with the student body “without being bound by misguided principles of cabinet solidarity or duty to WUSA.”
Tham Sivakumaran (United)
Tham Sivakumaran is in her fourth year of the psychology program.
Her top platform points include advocating for co-op students, further improving WUSA’s engagement with students, and overseeing the development of WUSA’s advocacy stances. Sivakumaran’s candidate profile states that her commitment to improving WUSA is evident through her participation on multiple committees including the Policy 70 committee (regarding co-op student petitions and grievances) as well as her quick consulting with student society leaders when “a new, seemingly harmful policy was introduced in co-op … with results that ultimately empowered [students].”
Sivakumaran is currently one of WUSA’s directors.
Douglas Tisdale is currently in his second year of the math and business administration program.
His main platform points are enhancing communication between WUSA, UW leaders, and the student body, increasing the quantity and quality of mental health services, and building better educational supports.
His candidate profile and website explain how he gained perspective around issues on campus through his experience on the campus residence council, as the student council club coordinator, and in intramurals. He hopes to implement an “Education Buddy” program that aims to connect struggling students with those who have taken the course before in “a flexible and casual manner.”
Katie Traynor (United)
Katie Traynor is in her third year of the planning program.
Her main platforms revolve around WUSA advocacy, its organization, and the university.
According to her candidate profile, her WUSA advocacy-facing goals include investigating methods to accomplish sustainability goals as outlined by students in things like ClimateJustice UW’s open letter last September, utilizing insights from various focus groups to generate recommendations and policies, and sharing more frequent communications about WUSA’s advocacy work through Imprint and other media.
Regarding WUSA itself, Traynor’s goals include implementing easier mechanisms for student feedback and supporting students’ mental and physical wellness in various ways. Examples include investigating ways to use grants or emergency funds to support students and student leaders’ mental health, re-instating the former WalkSAFE program and improving campus safety as outlined by WUSA’s response to the Hagey Hall attacks.
Traynor also hopes to improve the university by further opening communication up between students and the university through making all course outlines available to students and re-creating a forum to maintain contact between the university and its student leaders, along with other goals focusing on advocacy around housing, transit, and reducing the wait times for counselling with a task force or working group to investigate those challenges.
Traynor is currently the vice president of WUSA, and has experience as the chair of the Undergraduates of Canadian Research-Intensive Universities as well as the Vice President of Human Resources & Administration at the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance. Traynor has also worked for several on-campus bodies including Campus Housing, the Student Success Office, and student societies like the Environment Student Society.
Daniel Wang is in his second year of the computer science program.
He is currently on the MathSoc council as an at-large representative. He hopes to decrease tuition, improve the co-op experiences, and ensure that WUSA “responsibly spends our student fees on clubs, events, and services that actually benefit students.” He also hopes to “get [students] more free food” and let students opt out of “every single possible WUSA fee.” In the candidate AMA on Jan. 30, Wang elaborated that he would work with other Canadian university student associations to create a council that would advocate against tuition increases. However, he also said that the Ontario blue ribbon panel, with WUSA at its forefront, could direct the government to revert funding cuts and freezes. Wang further explained that he would improve the co-op experience by updating the WaterlooWorks interface, reworking PD courses, and helping students interview-swap more easily, either by bringing back the names of other interviewees or “finding an alternative way of communication without revealing privacy,” though other students pointed out that these changes are already being worked on by the office of co-op and experiential education.
Wang said his experience in MathSociety showed him “what you can and can’t do” and taught him how to reach out to those in charge of making decisions to ensure his platform is achieved.
He explained that he is running independently because of the unique nature of his platform.
Jaycee Zhang is in her second year of the data science program.
As of publication, Zhang has not submitted a candidate profile and does not currently have a platform. She said that if elected, she would do research on how the students think and what the majority want so that she could speak on their behalf.
Zhang is currently a Velocity ambassador. She has previously volunteered with WUSA’s International and Canadian Student Network, and has worked as a marketing director under MathSoc.
Jeff Zhu (United)
Jeff Zhu is in his third year majoring in the computer engineering program.
Zhu’s first platform point revolves around pushing for a housing advocacy plan. He plans to campaign during the 2024 city bylaw review and drive WUSA’s 2-year housing plan. Zhu’s second point is to improve student life by increasing club funding and building support infrastructure. The third point is prioritizing accountability and transparency by creating a student Feedback Officer. They would be dedicated to ensuring there are swift responses to student concerns so students feel like they are part of the process.
Jeff has been on WUSA’s board of directors since August 2022. He focused on internal accountability and efficiency. He redirected $100,000 to clubs and student groups by reviving the Student Life Endowment Fund. He also pushed housing as WUSA’s number 1 advocacy priority with legal aid reviews and contract playbacks. Jeff is on the Ownership Consultation Committee and is a three-time Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance delegate.