DSU Election New Westminster Candidates forum
By Mercedes Deutscher, News Editor
As part of campaign week, hopefuls for the DSU Board of Director opened themselves to the student on the New Westminster campus on March 1 at a candidates’ forum.
Four candidates participated in the New Westminster forum: Prabh Hundal, who is running for Director of College Relations; Tanysha Klassen, who is running for Director of External Relations; Chandrang Makwana, who is running for Director at Large; and Francis Ataiza, who is running for the Coquitlam Campus Director.
Each candidate was allowed a 60-second opening remark.
“I’ve developed a relationship with the college and it would be beneficial,” said Hundal in regard to her interest in the Director of College Relations position.
On the Director of External Relations position, Klassen explained their experience with advocacy campaigns over the previous 10 months and how it helped them feel ready to take on the position.
“I hope to keep fighting for affordable post-secondary education, making it accessible for people through things like campaigns and working at all different levels of government,” said Klassen.
The third candidate to open was Makwana. Makwana explained that he was an international student who started attending Douglas College in 2016. In his time at Douglas, he felt drawn to the DSU and had spent a significant amount of time there, making him interested in pursuing a Director at Large position.
Closing off the opening remarks was Ataiza.
“What we’re trying to build is to have a better community for both sides—New West and Coquitlam,” said Ataiza.
After opening remarks, candidates were each asked questions related to the position that they were running for. The first question, directed towards Ataiza, was whether it would be beneficial to hold joint campus events.
“Team Action is working hard to plan events for both campuses so that David Lam is noticed more […] If elected, my team and I would make sure that David Lam is up and going.”
Ataiza further elaborated on his experience with student engagement and how he would use that to further engage Coquitlam students.
Hundal was then asked: “[What were] the most contentious subjects to be discussed with the college this year, and what [was] the plan to tackle these issues?”
Hundal said that she felt like she understood what students wanted during her time with the DSU. First would be to increase library hours, second would be to improve food services, third would be to increase awareness and understanding around college policies, and fourth would be increase the use of open textbooks.
The next question, directed at Klassen, asked what the most important external issues were for the DSU.
Klassen cited three issues that they thought the DSU found most important—first being Don’t Close the Doors.
“We got 13 endorsements in the province, three being the DSU,” explained Klassen.
Squash the Squeeze, the Canada Grants program, and Aboriginal education were other causes Klassen mentioned to be of importance to the DSU.
Makwana was asked about student apathy at Douglas College and how that impacts the DSU.
“I, myself, as a new student, got to know about the DSU as soon as I came here because we have all these different events we organize, and we have a whole a whole min-tent out here. Getting to know about the DSU isn’t a problem,” said Makwana.
Makwana then further encouraged students to attend the events that the DSU creates.
The floor was then opened to the audience. One student asked about what the DSU would do to help to help alleviate student poverty. Klassen responded that the DSU is part of BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, and worked on refocusing the food bank to better help the students who most need it. Klassen also mentioned that they would be looking into creating more nutrient-dense free food events.