GSA election candidate interviews

GSA presidential candidate

Presidential Candidate:
Peter Nawrot


Senator in Social Work Students’
Association (two years)
GSA vice-president (academic) (two

Why did you decide to run?
None of the other current executives were running, and I have always found, in my many years of experience working in student governance, that if one doesn’t have any carry over from the previous years, all the good initiatives that were started end up dying out, and when the new executive get in they have new priorities, and it’s a constant reinvention of the wheel. And so I wanted to continue to build on our successes of the past year.

What is the role of the GSA?
It is a voice for graduate students, to help expand and enhance their experience here at the university. There is the advocacy part, providing services for our students and providing a forum for students to get to know each other, and make studying here and earning your degree a truly remarkable experience.

What do you hope to accomplish as president?
There are multiple issues that graduate students face, and as president I will work towards bringing some sort of improvement to those conditions, which includes housing and healthcare for international students. By collaborating with other stakeholders and the executive of the GSA, I hope we can work together to find resolutions.

GSA Vice-President Academic candidates

Vice-President (Academic) candidate:
Qianqiu Xun


Leadership in student service
Experience in the workplace
Representative for workers and members of the international and professional community
64 pages published in academic journals

Why did you decide to run?
I’m running for this position because I have previous leadership experience in the students’ union in China where I got my first degree. I believe the university is also a workplace for graduate students. I was a representative for new employees from 2007-08 in the company where I worked. Right now, I’m a member of the international and professional communities, such as the global engineering community, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and the world’s largest professional association for advanced technology.

What is the role of the GSA?
The GSA is the community for all the graduate students in the University of Manitoba, and it’s the official voice for all the graduate students in the university. The GSA is a place where one can demonstrate communication skills, leadership and network.

What do you hope to accomplish as vice-president (academic)?
First of all, I think I need to assist our members to get paid properly and increase their financial support and scholarships. I think the campus safety issues also need to be addressed for graduate students. I want to broaden GSA’s reputation through national and international organizations.
I would also like to connect Health Sciences and Fort Garry students by co-hosting events.

Vice-President (Academic) candidate:
Yijie (Jennifer) Chen

GSA councillor representing kinesiology and recreation management students
GSA senator
Attended Canadian Federation of Students meetings

Why did you decide to run?
I’m currently a second-year master’s student in kinesiology. I’m also a research assistant at the U of M. Last November, I attended the CFS AGM and this February I went to Kingston for the CFS national graduate caucus meeting. That gave me a great opportunity to get to know about student affairs and the inter workings of the GSA and CFS. That’s why I’m running for this position; I’m hoping I can do more for graduate students.

What is the role of the GSA?
The GSA is a powerful voice for graduate students on campus. Also, the GSA is a voice on U of M issues on an administrative level and on an external level. I think it’s important that graduate students have such a voice and that we can bring our concerns to the university and to the community, and to have more powerful support for the graduate students community.

What do you hope to accomplish as vice-president (academic)?
If I’m elected, I want to hold a joint presentation between the GSA and student advocacy office, and also hold a couple of panel discussions [on issues] such as academic integrity and freedom, and Canadian copyright legislation. These are issues related to graduate students’ academic and research life. Also, I’d like to hold a speaker or lecturer so that graduate students understand their rights and responsibilities, including the academic appeal process.

GSA Vice-President internal candidate

Vice-President (Internal) Candidate:
Angela Freeman

Treasurer and president of Waterloo Students’ Society
Elected to board of governors of Waterloo Public Interest Research Group

Why did you decide to run?
I wanted to run for a position in the GSA because I care about what happens to grad students. I find that many grad students are focused on their studies, and that’s great. But it’s also good to have a community to work with.

What is the role of the GSA?
The GSA works as an in-between for a lot of things. It is an absorber of information and brings it to a central place where graduate students can get at it without having to go very far. The GSA works hard to get the best possible experience for grad students, such as the pub, better housing for international students, healthcare for international students.

What do you hope to accomplish as vice-president (internal)?
A lot of people end up waiting a long time to receive their [awards] funding, and I’m hoping to keep a tight ship and get people together to make sure the cheques are being signed on time. Also, currently for the conference awards there are two types of awards, the in Winnipeg and outside Winnipeg, but no international award, so I want to work within the GSA to create an international award.

GSA Vice-President external candidate

Vice-President (External) candidate:
Tonia Bates

Teacher for seven years
Worked on social development and policy review committees
Worked on wellness committees
Degree in recreation management
Experience liaising between parents’ groups and administration

What made you decide to run?
As a mature graduate student, I wanted to ensure that our organization had a voice and was active in the community at the university to ensure that students have a place here. We don’t spend as much time on campus as other students, so having that place to go and that sense of community I think is very important for graduate students, who are all over the campus and all over the city.

What is the role of the GSA?
A lot of graduate students’ focus is on our research, and for that research you often spend your time in your smaller area. Being able to have a space within the GSA to collaborate with individuals outside your faculty is very important.

What do you hope to accomplish as vice-president (external)?
I’d like to continue with several of the campaigns like the international student health coverage. We want to make sure there’s affordable student housing. As well, there’s copyright issues with the university. Also regarding the CFS, we want to ensure that we are having effective communication between the two of us and that they are representing students.