UMSU community rep candidates

UMSU elections

Black Students’ Representative

Anita Ayame

Anita Ayame is a fourth-year double major in biological sciences and genetics minoring in microbiology, health sciences and psychology.

She is currently the Black students’ representative on UMSU and has also served as the women’s representative on the University of Manitoba Black Students’ Union (UMBSU).

“I am motivated to run for this position because I believe that we need an advocate who is committed to addressing the unique challenges and issues faced by Black students, and who can work with school administration and other stakeholders to promote diversity, equity and inclusion,” she said.

She hopes to work with the administration to identify barriers that Black students may face regarding academic success and to promote equity, diversity and inclusion at the U of M.

“This may involve organizing cultural events, promoting diversity education, intercultural dialogue and exchange [as well as] more ethnic food options,” she said.

She also hopes to address mental health issues faced by Black students and ensure that financial aid, scholarships, job placements and internships are more accessible for them.

“Overall, my platform is focused on promoting the academic success, diversity, equity and mental health of Black students,” she said.

“I believe that by addressing these issues, we can create a more inclusive and equitable school community that supports the success and well-being of all students.”

Zima Ndukwe

Zima Ndukwe is a second-year economics student and the vice-president finance of UMBSU.

Ndukwe, who lived in Nigeria before moving to Canada six years ago, said that her role on UMBSU gives her a “deeper understanding of the intricacies of dealing with UMSU and the university system in general as a Black student.”

She said that she wants to see Black people “thrive and feel included” at the U of M. Ndukwe explained that her experience on UMBSU showed her the financial barriers that Black student clubs face when trying to create events on campus, and she said that making funding available for Black clubs is one of her biggest priorities.

“As a Black student, I know that these events promote a sense of belonging and community,” Ndukwe said.

One of the other main issues on Ndukwe’s agenda is fees for international students.

“As a significant portion of the Black students on our campus are also international students, it is understood that the university’s ever-increasing fees for international students also negatively impact the Black community here at the University of Manitoba,” she said.

Ndukwe also wants to give Black students “an active role in their education.”

“For several reasons, many Black students shy away from speaking up about their ideas and the issues they face,” she said.

“I really want to create a safe space for those students to come forward and be able to express what’s on their mind knowing that they will be advocated for.”

2SLGBTQIA+ students’ representative

Alex Rana

Alex Rana, a fourth-year student pursuing a double honours in English and linguistics, is currently the 2SLGBTQIA+ students’ representative for UMSU and is running unopposed.

He is also the co-president of the Rainbow Pride Centre and the Arts Student Body Council’s (ASBC) director of community engagement, and is running to continue to build on his previous work in the same UMSU community role.

“Although the 2SLGBTQIA+ community and the Rainbow Pride Centre have a long history of being active on campus, it is important that we continue to have specific community representation on the UMSU board of directors and are able to keep the [Rainbow Pride Centre] running effectively to provide a space for students in the community,” he said.

Raising awareness regarding the Rainbow Pride Centre is one of Rana’s main priorities.

“It can be very hard to find out spaces like this exist on campus unless students happen to hear from others, walk by when we’re tabling or see one of our posters,” he said.

He also wants to increase communication with the Bannatyne campus to meet the needs of 2SLGBTQIA+ students there.

Ensuring accessible washrooms for all students is another key issue for Rana, who wants to make sure that they are easier to find and that stu- dents don’t have to leave a building to find a washroom that works for them.

“To better address this next year, I plan to connect with those currently involved in overseeing this area to discuss the plan for creating new gender-neutral bathrooms and stress the importance of resources being directed toward this,” he said.

International students’ representative

Zeeshan Nisar

Zeeshan Nisar did not respond to multiple requests for written answers to questions before time of publication. They are running for international students’ representative.

Dhruvi Shah

Dhruvi Shah did not respond to multiple requests for written answers to questions before time of publication. They are running for international students’ representative.

Andrea Nguyen

Andrea Nguyen is a third-year data science student who has served as the Orientation Welcome Leader for fall 2021 and 2022 and the vice-president of membership experience at the UMSU Women’s Centre.

She is also the international students’ representative for the University of Manitoba Science Students’ Association, and believes that these roles along with her experience as an international student from Vietnam give her the necessary skills for this position.

“These amazing opportunities have helped me to understand the concerns that first-year students have and what support they need, improve my active listening and teamwork skills and know more different resources that the university provides for students,” she said.

She hopes to raise awareness regarding the supports available to international students on campus.

“Upper-level international students like myself struggled to find internships and decide what job opportunities can lead us with our current degree,” she said.

She is also concerned about the difficulty many international students face navigating student visa systems, and highlighted the sense of isolation and alienation some international students may feel in a new country.

“Some want to make new friends, but they are hesitant to talk first or afraid that others do not understand,” she explained.

“With all of those concerns, I want to proactively approach international students to support them with different resources that the university provides, and advocate for their needs.”

Naufil Ahmed Khan

A second-year student, Naufil Ahmed Khan has served this past year as the vice-president internal for the University of Manitoba Undergraduate Political Studies Students’ Association.

Khan, an international student from Pakistan, has also volunteered or worked with a number of other community-specific organizations.

“Once elected as the international student representative, I believe that I can make a positive impact in all international communities by serving as a liaison between students, their needs and the university,” he said.

One of Khan’s central issues is mental health support for international students, who he said face additional struggles so far from home.

“A lot of these students are unaware of the resources that are available or are afraid to talk to someone,” he said. ”It is critical that I provide support and resources to international students to help them tackle this issue.”

He also highlighted health care for international students as a key part of his platform.

“International students already pay abnormally high tuition fees and yet are forced to pay for private health care,” he said. “This issue has been taken up before and previous governments have advocated for this. My aim is to continue this and keep advocating for this until we get results.”

Racialized students’ representative

Allisther De Castro

Third-year political studies student Allisther De Castro is running for the newly-instated position of racialized students’ representative. She is currently an ASBC Racialized Student Caucus member and a University of Manitoba Filipino Students’ Association (UMFSA) member.

During De Castro’s time serving as an UMSU director for the University 1 Student Council, she came to the conclusion that UMSU directors and executives were not making enough of an effort to include racialized communities.

“I am running for this position because progress needs to be made and racial awareness needs to be talked about,” she said.

She hopes to serve the community with what she calls the “4 Rs” — representation in student faculty associations, reporting BIPOC discrimination, raising awareness and providing a racialized community space.

“I would advocate having the position of racialized representative open to all associations to give BIPOC students an opportunity to represent their communities,” she said.

De Castro seeks to establish better methods for students to report discrimination, and wants to implement required racial awareness and sensitivity training for groups on campus in order to address racial discrimination.

“With the policies that I am aiming to implement supported by my leadership and interpersonal experience, I believe that I am capable and competent to advocate for the racialized community,” she said.

Sofreen Sandhu

Sofreen Sandhu is a second-year nursing student. She believes that as an international student of colour, she has first-hand experience dealing with the challenges faced by marginalized people on campus.

“I have a strong track record of pushing for diversity and inclusion through my roles on campus in several student organizations,” Sandhu said.

She pointed to the different events and campaigns she has organized to “promote diversity and raise awareness about concerns of social justice.”

Sandhu is running to challenge racism and discrimination on campus and to provide more representation for racialized students.

“Representation matters, and it is essential that the perspectives and experiences of racialized students are included in decision-making processes,” she said.

“This includes advocating for more racialized individuals to be hired for faculty and staff positions, as well as promoting opportunities for students to participate in leadership roles.”

Sandhu also hopes to provide more mental health supports for racialized students and promote anti-racist ideas throughout campus.

“This means promoting critical dialogue, education and awareness about racism and discrimination, and working toward creating a safe and inclusive environment for all students,” she said.

Indigenous students’ representative

Ishkode Catcheway

Ishkode Catcheway is a fourth-year student with a major in heath studies and a minor in Indigenous languages. She is currently UMSU’s Indigenous students’ representative and is running for re-election unopposed.

Catcheway has held the position of communications co-ordinator with the University of Manitoba Indigenous Students’ Association (UMISA) for two years and is involved in programs such as the Indigenous Circle of Empowerment (ICE) and Neechiwaken Indigenous Peer Mentor Program.

Catcheway is running for re-election because there is more that she wants to do for the Indigenous community on campus.

She hopes to finish her work in establishing a community space for Indigenous students on campus if elected and would also like to continue the Indigenous Student Art Program in the coming year.

“I want to be able to provide safe spaces for Indigenous students to study or hang out, as well as be an advocate for them,” she said.

She believes that there has been a lack of communication and collaboration between past UMSU executives and UMISA.

“I hope to continue working on this if elected to be able to finally have a good relationship between UMSU and the Indigenous community on campus,” she said.

Catcheway hopes to give a voice to the Indigenous community on campus and wants to make sure that Indigenous voices are heard.

Women’s community representative

Witta Irumva

Witta Irumva is a third-year genetics honours student. She is the vice-president of social media and marketing with the UMSU Women’s Centre and works on the social media team for the Black Student Empowerment Society.

She is running for the position unopposed.

She believes that her involvement in extracurricular activities on campus has sharpened her organizational and management skills, and that her work with the Women’s Centre has allowed her to build connections with the community and contribute to change on campus.

Irumva said that her experiences have taught her the importance of providing sufficient supports and resources to those who need them.

She highlighted the importance of creating a safe space for the women’s community on campus where individuals are guaranteed inclusion and accessibility.

“I want to use my position to raise their voices on matters impacting the community and help realize projects that benefit women-identifying students,” she stated.

Irumva wants to amplify three important issues — awareness regarding sexual violence, inclusion in the community and distribution of products and resources.

“I want to connect students with the resources and assistance they require regarding campus or off-campus matters,” she said. “I also want to work to dismantle the most accepted depiction of a woman and promote representation that is accurate to the individuals that encompass our community.”

Accessibility community representative

Caleigh Guillou

Caleigh Guillou is a second-year psychology student with a double minor in political studies and health sciences. She is currently serving her second term as UMSU’s accessibility community representative and is running for re-election unopposed.

Guillou is also this year’s co-chair of the Bisons Walk-a-thon for Childhood Cancer and a consent culture workshop facilitator with Justice for Women.

“Accessibility shortfalls present a multi-tiered challenge to our community,” she said.

“I believe my greatest strength in this role is my ability to understand the intersectionality of local, provincial and national policies as they relate to University of Manitoba students living with disabilities and addressing the barriers in their daily lives.”

Guillou is running for re-election because she is passionate about advocating for the community on campus.

“Regardless of ability, each of us deserves equitable access to whatever we want our unique university experience to look like,” she said.

“With the understanding that accessibility is not one-size-fits-all, I will strive to continue serving my community while highlighting the importance of valuing and meeting the unique individual needs of every disabled student.”

Her plans for next year are focused on facilitating access to academic accommodations for survivors of sexual violence, ensuring that students have a safe way to dispose of sharps medical waste, informing students of internal and external disability rights and continuing to implement more accessible information technology at the university.