U of W student association overturns leadership

Incumbent slate swept from office, transit referendum passes

(from left to right): Jibril Hussein, Breanna Belisle, Melanie William

Following a re-count March 5, Jibril Hussein has been confirmed as University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) president-elect.

The incumbent Devote slate of Mahlet Cuff, Noelle Sagher and Shawna Péloquin was roundly defeated, finishing third on each of their respective ballots. The incumbent slate did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Hussein was elected with 515 votes after ballots were recounted. Kirt Hayer tallied 472 and Cuff finished third with 333. The numbers changed only slightly from Thursday’s initial results after Hayer requested a recount.

Hussein said his first priority will be to reconnect the UWSA with students and engage the university community through social media and videos.

“We just want students to know what we stand for,” he said, “and to know that they can come to us with any issue and get their voice heard.”

Breanna Belisle, who was elected to vice-president external affairs, has highlighted campus security as a priority.

She said she wants to look at establishing card access to study spaces for after hours.

“Students pay to come to university and they should feel safe while they’re here and feel as though they’re respected and understood when they do have a security-related concern,” she said.

The slate is filled out by vice-president student affairs Melanie William who said she wants to bring more transparency to the association’s finances, equalize funding across student groups and establish a board of student club executives to create more collaboration.

Hayer, who called for the recount, said he believes the results are reflective of the incumbent slate’s performance while on the executive board and that he ran in the election to improve on issues that students face.

Students “were just kind of unhappy that the UWSA executives aren’t more prominent,” he said. “I didn’t even know that the UWSA had so much power, or that the executives make like $40,000,” said Hayer.

“I felt like the real problems that students are really really facing, they weren’t really doing anything about that,” he later added.

In the position of vice-president external affairs, Belisle took in 563 votes, Alex Ilesanmi received 404 and Péloquin 259.

William was elected to vice-president student affairs with 623 votes, ahead of Reza Saker at 288 and Sagher’s 274.

The campaign was thrown into turmoil just a week before the voting opened after an anonymous Twitter account accused the incumbent slate of covering up mismanagement of funds. A spokesperson for the association denied the accusations and said a cease and desist letter had been issued to the individual or individuals behind the account.

According to Hayer, the lack of transparency may also have something to do with the results.

“I went to a few board meetings and everything was in the closed session,” he said.

A referendum attached to the ballot on maintaining enrolment in the U-Pass transit program at an increased cost passed overwhelmingly with 1,110 students casting a ballot in support, and 221 voting to opt out.

The community representative positions were all uncontested, with Sarah Anderson elected to accessibility director, Wesley Fallis to arts director, Harsimrat S. Malhotra to business and economics director and Celina Clements to community liaison director.

The graduate student director roles will be held by Alexandra K. Nychuk and Nadia M. Chaharsoughi, and the international students’ director position will be co-held by Elsa Owusu and Onyinye F. Idigbe. The 2SLGBT* director will be Jacob K. Antman and the racialized students’ director position will be held by Ella Taylor. Ada Chukwudozie and Cheta D. Akaluka will serve as UWSA senators.