Community representative candidate interviews

The community representatives campaigning for the 2014 UMSU election are: Steven Anderson, LGBTTQ*; Rocco Scarcella, students living with disabilities; Matthew Riesmeyer, students living with disabilities; Munashe Gudu, international students; Ninia Ogbuji, women’s representative; and Reanna Blair, women’s representative.

Anderson, Scarcella, Ogbuji, and Blair shared their platforms and hopes for the coming year. The Manitoban did not receive a response from Riesmeyer nor from Gudu by press time.


The Manitoban: Please discuss your platform.

Steven Anderson: The platform I’m running on is based on improving services on campus for LGBTTQ* students, enhancing communication between the LGBTTQ* students and their representative on council, and raising awareness about matters affecting LGBTTQ* students. One goal I have for next year is increasing the number of gender-inclusive washrooms.

Rocco Scarcella: [I want] to get organized by starting a student group that will bring together members of the disability community [ . . . ] It will serve as a student group in which casual discussions can take place in a safe and fun environment [ . . . ] [I want] to have more accessible on-campus jobs, [ . . . ] [and I want] to have the five UMSU community representatives also representing students on the Student Senate Caucus.

Reanna Blair: As women’s representative, I will accomplish increased transparency and accountability, promote and provide venues for discussion and debate regarding women’s issues, ensure availability and awareness regarding women’s resources on campus, [and provide] consideration of how decisions will affect long-term and short-term needs of women on campus.

Ninia Ogbuji: As the women’s representative, I hope to increase the cultural diversity of the Womyn’s Centre. As [a] visible minority on campus, I hope to increase cultural sensitivity within the community of women and in campaigns targeted towards issues concerning women, especially the “No Means No” Campaign. My aim is to make sure that no decision is made on the council without asking the views of the women and how that decision will impact our community.

M: What experience do you have that qualifies you for this position? 

Anderson: I have been a member of UMSU Council as a science rep for the past year, serving on the Policy and Bylaws Committee as well as the Health and Dental committee. Furthermore, I’ve been an active member of the Rainbow Pride Mosaic for the past four years, volunteering for almost all events and activities. I have considerable knowledge about the workings of UMSU, as well as much experience with a diverse number of LGBTTQ* students. I’ve completed eight hours of the Rainbow Resource Centre’s ally training.

Scarcella: Much of my experience that qualifies me for this position has been from the ability to facilitate partnerships between those facing barriers and those with the ability to remedy them. For example, for over a year now, I have been working closely with the University of Manitoba Mobile App Development Team in order to make the app more accessible for students with various degrees of vision loss.

Blair: I have volunteered as an orientation leader on campus, and in the process, have developed skills involving interacting with and ensuring that students new to the university feel comfortable on campus [ . . . ] I was elected to the position of fair trade venture lead in Engineers Without Borders; this has allowed me to network, organize, manage, and interact with others to ensure fair trade awareness amongst students here at the U of M. I am currently part of the Alpha Gamma Delta sorority, and this has allowed me to see and experience the importance of community building amongst women.

Ogbuji: I am the current women’s representative of the Arts Student Body Council. I have also worked with UMSU since 2012. The skills and experiences I gained from these have adequately prepared me for this position.

M: In what ways will you ensure UMSU is being held accountable and transparent for students?

Anderson: I am not afraid to ask hard questions at UMSU meetings if I see items that do not seem accurate. I have experience reading budget lines as well as thorough knowledge of the policies and bylaws of the union. I will always bring up any discrepancies regarding these items to make sure they are dealt with honestly and comprehensively.

Scarcella: In order to ensure UMSU is being held accountable and transparent for students, I would ensure that any information being presented is accurate, presented to council in a timely manner, and that any significant financial commitments and policy decisions have a mandatory and thorough debate.

Blair: I would work with UMSU to distribute emails and social media updates regarding what UMSU wants to do, is doing, and has done in regards to women’s issues. In these updates I would work towards ensuring clarity in regards to the roles that the representatives and the executives have in decision-making. Also, I would ensure that I am available to receive any feedback that UMSU members have in regards to women’s issues.

Ogbuji: [I want to make] decisions made on the council readily available to the students. I hope to disclose the outcome of every meeting to the women’s community through the Womyn’s Centre. I hope to keep those I represent regularly updated with the progress of the council.