Jordan McGavin / GAZETTE

Representing the second-largest faculty on campus is no easy task, especially when it involves close to 5,000 students. Without further adieu, meet this year’s science councillor candidates.

Elliot Polster

Year and program: Third-year interdisciplinary medical sciences and physiology

Favourite Spoke item: Untoasted Canadian harvest bagel cut in half; sometimes I put some peanut butter and jam

Why are you running for your position?

Many students don't realize the scope of things that the University Students' Council does for them, and that they have an opportunity to have a say in student government. I want to help students understand the importance of voicing their opinions and taking more of an interest in their student experience!

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

I want to make sure that all students are aware of the impact of their voice and of the initiatives and topics being discussed at USC meetings. To do this, I want to publish monthly surveys on "hot topics" that I would consult with other USC councillors and executives to create and publish them on social media to get anonymous student feedback. In addition, I would like to set up a social media outlet for councillors to give a condensed, 1 to 2 paragraph summary of meetings so that students can get a glimpse of what goes on behind seemingly closed doors.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

Science Students' Council: having served on a faculty council previously, I have gained an appreciation of the proceedings of student government as well as the impact that it can have on the students that it advocates for.

Residence Soph: this has been one of the most fun and fulfilling experiences I've had at Western University, teaching me the importance of communication and teamwork in positions of leadership.

Tidal Waves: having served as an instructor, vice-president of internal and president, I have gained very valuable experience in personal growth and working with a diverse group of students and individuals within the London community.


Peter Denezis

Year and program: Third-year honors specialization in genetics and biochemistry

Favourite Spoke item: Sweet potato fries or chocolate chip cookie

Why are you running for your position?

I’m drawn towards the position of faculty councillor because it strikes a perfect balance between the big picture goals the University Students' Council focuses on and the direct student impact that the Science Students’ Council focuses on. I hope in this position I can set realistic goals to make effective change.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

It’s no secret that there’s a huge disconnect between Western University students and the City of London that’s built up over the years. As someone from the London area, I know what London has to offer students at Western. There’s so many local businesses, programs and opportunities to get involved available to us. The disconnect isn’t the fault of any specific party, but I hope that I can help break it and engage students more with the city. I’d like to use the upcoming municipal election to help kick start this and get students more active in the city.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

Much of my involvement in the Western community has come through the lens of the orientation program. As a soph, I’ve been able to observe nearly every division of the university working together to give first-year students an amazing experience. This has taught me more than I could ever imagine about the inner workings of the USC, SSC, Board of Governors and any other acronym you can think of. I’m confident I can use the knowledge I’ve gained to act as an effective representative for science students at large.


Babafemi Adewusi

Year and program: First-year medical sciences

Favourite Spoke item: Plain cream cheese bagel

Why are you running for your position?

So many students see student government as a closed off society that unilaterally decides what happens at Western University. I’m running in hopes of bringing students closer to student politics, showing them that student government are their peers and that each student has a power when it comes to university affairs.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

Something that is visibly lacking in university politics is student engagement; it's my hope to raise student involvement in the affairs of the University Students' Council and Science Students' Council by helping both councils become more accessible and transparent. Students should be able to easily find things like what issues the councils are currently working on or documents detailing financials. As well, the councils should more actively seek the input from students about events and issues. I want students to no longer feel a disconnect between themselves and the councils that represent them.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

I believe this role revolves around being an effective communicator and intermediary. In my past role as deputy prime minister of my high school, mediation between school administration and students exposed to me to many differing viewpoints. Even in the workplace, when I was a department manager at a retail store, I found myself in situations with customers and staff that went poorly simply because of improper dialogue. I feel that these experiences have taught me to communicate well with both sides of any issue until a reasonable solution is met.


Bethany Adair

Year and program: Second-year biology

Favourite Spoke item: Veggie bagelwich with hummus on Canadian harvest

Why are you running for your position?

I’m running to be a councillor because it’s no secret that there’s a huge disconnect between the University Students' Council and the student body. In first-year, I didn’t know the difference between the USC and the UCC; I believe I’m not alone in that. I want to help get students informed.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

One of the biggest reasons why I’m running for this position is based on the lack of clarity the USC currently provides students regarding the allocation of their supplementary and ancillary fees. Considering each student pays hundreds of dollars to the USC every year, I find it shocking that there is little transparency concerning where that money even goes. My main goal as a councillor would be to provide this information to students so that it is accessible for all, so students can feel more responsible about what they are investing their money in at Western and with the USC.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

I have gained experience from being a member on a variety of club and council committees that plan and execute student events here at Western — one of these being the Science Students' Council student support committee. From these experiences, I have learned what it takes to get projects done and the budgeting required to carry out initiatives and events. I am also a Faculty of Science soph, which has helped me to become incredibly knowledgeable about the resources and services available on campus. Sophing has allowed me to actively exercise my skills as a leader, which will be beneficial for this position.


Victoria Barroso

Year and program: Second-year biology

Favourite Spoke item: BLT bagelwich on cheddar and herb

Why are you running for your position?

I’m running for re-election because I have loved being a part of the University Students' Council. I am passionate about advocacy and the experience of every student on this campus. I hope to continue working with council to have the important conversations that bring to light the concerns of students on campus.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

In returning to council, I hope to continue to work within the student experience standing committee to more effectively review services and resources available on campus. I hope to improve the transparency of this process and allow students a more significant role in providing their feedback and perspective on how these resources are or potentially are not benefitting their overall university experience. I also hope to engage with students early on in the year to see which of the many services and/or resources students would like us to take a closer look at.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

Joining the USC after first year was a significant learning experience. I believe now having spent a year on council, I have a greater understanding of the USC as a whole as well as how to effectively bring the thoughts and concerns of my constituents to light. The past two years I have spent on Science Students’ Council have also helped me remain close to the students I represent. Having the opportunity to meet with the students who represent every module within the science faculty helps us as councillors remain connected and informed on issues being faced across various disciplines.


Teodara Marginean

Year and program: First-year medical sciences

Favourite Spoke item: Nanaimo bars

Why are you running for your position?

After being a proxy for a science councillor at a University Students' Council advocacy committee, I learned a lot about student issues like financial aid, diversity and equity, and sexual violence prevention. Being a councillor would allow me to connect with students, advocate for them and help improve student life on campus.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

I want to work with academic counselling to improve accommodations for students (no one should have to write an 85 per cent final), streamline services to reduce wait times and work with other USC members to implement an online self-reporting system like McMaster’s student absence form. This would relieve students of a minor assignment (worth less than 25 per cent) due to medical or personal reasons once per term without further documentation. Students’ needs should be of utmost importance because academic wellness is an important part of mental wellness too. You can read more details at www.facebook.com/TeoForUSC!

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

As a first-year rep on Science Students’ Council this year, I’ve learned a lot about how student government is structured and ran. I’ve also made it a priority of mine to reach out to the students I represent, listen to their concerns and bring them to council. Before university, I was president of my school board’s student council (YSCPC), and my team and I were responsible for planning province-wide and board-wide conferences on empowerment and advocacy for issues like homelessness. I have always admired student leaders and want to continue working with them to make tangible differences.


Eric Sun

Year and program: First-year medical sciences

Favourite Spoke item: Jalapeno cheddar bagel with spinach and feta cream cheese

Why are you running for your position?

I want to bridge the disconnect between the University Students' Council and student body by representing student voice and playing an active role in decision making to improve student life at Western University. I believe that strong communication, transparency and active student-engagement are matters that must be addressed so that student voices can be heard!

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

If elected, the most important goal I hope to accomplish is subsidizing the cost of faculty soph fees or completely eliminating them once and for all. Selfless faculty sophs are already devoting enormous amounts of time out of their own schedule to help first-year students with the transition from high school to university, so why should they be forced to pay additional fees? By removing these fees, financial barriers are eliminated and more students are able to continue giving to the selfless tradition of sophing and being a crucial part of Western’s orientation program experience.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

Before coming to Western, I sat on the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee of Niagara Falls and my high school’s student council. I was also one of the co-founders of the Niagara Student Summit, coached a house-league children’s soccer team and worked in a research lab. Perhaps the most important of all, I am a student like you! I understand the difficulties of university, and I want to improve our school for everyone! All my diverse experiences have equipped me with the necessary experience and skills to be an effective councillor and liaison between the faculty, student body and university.


Cheryl Fernandes

Year and program: Third-year medical cell biology

Favourite Spoke item: BLT bagelwich on Asiago sourdough

Why are you running for your position?

I am running for University Students' Council science councillor to maximize our undergraduate experience by ensuring all voices are heard. My campaign is not only about what I want to change or improve because I am just one student but also about communicating together as a faculty to make a positive change.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

My main goal would be to create a stronger engagement between the student body, Science Students' Council and USC. Last year, less than 30 per cent of Western University students voted for USC elections and after elections many students were unaware of what the USC had been working on. I want to keep the conversation going after elections which will help build a stronger connection between the USC and student body. The continuous communication will allow councillors to better advocate for the needs of their faculty, allowing an improved undergraduate experience.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

As the current vice-president of communications of Save the Children Western, I worked on enhancing the social media of the club by creating an Instagram page and suggesting ways to increase student engagement on Facebook. The goal was to bring greater awareness of the club on campus. Last year, we had around 60 members, and this year we were able to bring that up to 150! Just like how I helped in increasing awareness and engagement for STC Western, my goal would be to do the same as a councillor by creating a continuous connection with the USC and student body.


Husna Doudi

Year and program: First-year computer science

Favourite Spoke item: Nacho fries

Why are you running for your position?

I'm running for University Students' Council science councillor because I want to be the voice of science students. I want to bring to light the issues science students face and change and improve them. The whole point of a science councillor is to advocate for our fellow students and inspire them to voice their opinions.

What is the most important goal you hope to accomplish?

The most important goal I hope to achieve is diversity. As a USC Councillor, I believe it is important that all the students are engaged and feel welcomed. I want to help empower all minorities, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and sexual orientation. I want to advocate for programs, events or information sessions to help Western University students become more culturally aware, so this university can be a safe space for everyone. As a member of multiple clubs, I also want to be a liaison between the clubs and USC.

How have your previous experiences prepared you for this position?

I've had many leadership experiences that I believe prepare me for this position. I'm currently a first-year representative for Science Students' Council, and the position has taught me how to organize events properly, manage my time and advocate for the students. In high school, I also held many positions in various activities, such as Student Congress vice-president and Quizbowl secretary. These positions taught me how to lead. Currently at Western, I am also apart of multiple clubs.