Third-year student Lena Elamin is the sole candidate in contention for the position of VP Equity for the University of Toronto Student Union. Elamin has found herself on the on the slate United for Action, the only full slate left after the disqualification of candidates from StudentsFirst. Last week, the candidates of United for Action and the only individual candidate, Nathaniel Tang, interacted with students to increase voter turnout.
Elamin, who has been highly involved in social justice causes at UTM since her first year, wants to further unite the St. George and Mississauga campuses through Expression Against Oppression Week. She stresses the importance of supplying UTM with equity officers, who are currently only available at St. George, so that students have an accessible resource when seeking guidance in regards to discrimination and oppression.
“I want to speak with students and find out what they want to collaborate on,” Elamin said. “We want to increase activism on campus and lobby for causes such as flat tuition fees and parking fees. We want to provide students with a better experience and address their needs.”
Rather than run for an executive position at UTM, Elamin chose to focus her efforts on the St. George campus to increase representation for UTM at the administrative level. Elamin says she was an independent candidate up until she met the rest of her Unite for Action teammates at the All Candidates Meeting on Sunday, February 27. The Unite for Action posters, website, and Facebook group complete with team pictures were launched less than 24 hours later.
Dubbed by critics and opponents as the incumbent slate, Unite for Action faces criticism of being favoured by an alleged biased Elections and Referenda Committee, the body in charge of enforcing election policies. The ERC consists of current UTSU executives, who are colleagues of candidates on Unite for Action. Presidential candidate Danielle Sandhu is the current VP Equity and VP Internal and Services candidate Cory Scott is the current VP Campus Life.
“I don’t believe we’re an incumbent team,” Elamin said. “We’re just ordinary students with extraordinary hopes to enhance the university experience for students.”
Even though Elamin says that Unite for Action formed at the All Candidates Meeting, a list of victories achieved throughout the year by the UTSU and other student organizations, including UTMSU, is posted on the slate’s website. When asked why Unite for Action takes credit for collective student achievements that took place before the slate was conceived, Elamin said, “Individuals of Unite for Action have worked on these initiatives. It’s any victory done for the students by the students. That’s as much as I can say about that.”
Unwilling to comment on the boycott campaign and the impromptu candidate disqualifications of the former opposition team, Elamin said that it is not her place to discuss the ruling of the Elections Referenda Committee.
“It’s an issue that is to be addressed with the Chief Returning Officer,” Elamin said. “In regards to United for Action, we are a positive, realistic, compassionate group of students who have a vision in unity. United for Action is intent on one purpose: not to find our own way but to find the common way. With all the chaos and commotion, I can’t comment on the decision made by StudentsFirst.”
Students can vote at polls from March 8 to 10 in the North Building, CCT, and the Davis Building.
The Unite for Action team platform points include working to improve the status of women and other marginalized groups, fighting proposals that threaten students, ensuring that the campus is a safe and accessible space for all, and are committed to provide high quality services for students studying at UTM.