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Elections 2019

Saffiya Lulat wants to make a ‘real difference’

“I’m here to listen to you, represent you, and work for you.”

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Eli Ridder | Special Report

Current member of the IGNITE Board of Directors Saffiya Lulat wants to “make a real difference” as the vice president of the University of Guelph-Humber by advocating for voices that are often left out, she told The Avro Post in an interview on Monday evening.

The Justice Studies student revealed her candidacy along with over 20 other candidates across the Board of Directors, vice president and president races at Humber College and Guelph-Humber.

Lulat, 21, was elected last year as the second director behind Kevin Siery by three ballots and has experience monitoring IGNITE’s initiatives, budgets and executive progress, and she says she is familiar with IGNITE’s long-term plan.

Link: Elections 2019

Lulat has worked for the federal government and she says as a third year has an abundance of experience being a Guelph-Humber student, all of which she says gives herself confidence to “bring real change”.

The third year endorsed Board of Directors candidates Afifa Abbaszadeh and Erika Caldwell as “fantastic”.

Lulat is facing off against Carmen Duong and Megan Roopnarine for the vice presidency, who have not yet responded to requests for comment from The Avro Post sent on Monday.


The platform

Saffiya Lulat, who lives in Toronto, broke down her platform into three points she aims to improve: financial security for students, the “academic experience” and “make students life on campus more comfortable and enjoyable”.

“Most importantly, I will follow through on my platform promises and be a voice for Guelph-Humber students,” Lulat added, saying she seeks to “make a positive impact to ensure a better campus life for current and future students”.

Lulat broke down her platform into a “problem” and “solution” section for each items she’s bringing to the table.

For financial security, she describes significant decreases in funding by the Ontario government scheduled for the fall, which also includes wiping free tuition for some 200,000 low-income students from the Ontario Student Assistance Program.

As for a solution, Lulat wants to add a section to GH Works — a student employment portal — for external scholarships and increase IGNITE financial assistance for students via scholarships and bursaries.

Lulat told The Avro Post that students often just come to campus for class because there is a “lack of networking, events and communication between our student inion and clubs funded by IGNITE”.

For solutions she wants to implement monthly networking events for professional relationships, have IGNITE work with clubs to host more campus-wide events to engage students and address the reported population issue at Guelph-Humber.

Senate candidate Elsayed did a story for her News Gathering course that found there was overcrowding at the University of Guelph-Humber, and Lulat wants to advocate for more space or another building to avoid a “safety hazard”.

“Many students spend more time on campus than at home and it should be a warm, inclusive and comfortable environment for students to enjoy spending time at,” Lulat said, moving on to her third priority for a more enjoyable campus.

Two ideas make up her solutions to the campus comfort problem: advocating for more study areas at Guelph-Humber so “every student has a spot to sit, study and make the most of their time on campus” and secondly, Lulat suggest IGNITE should work in partnership with external companies to provide additional resources for students, such as a transit pass or discounted movie tickets.

When it comes to the concept of a student transit pass, Humber College entered discussions to consider having one, which would likely only come about via a referendum of all students on campus as it would add student fees.

There has not been much talk of considering a transit pass for several months and repeated attempts by The Avro Post to discover the status of Humber’s or IGNITE’s stance on a transit pass have not been successful.


‘Error in communication’

When asked by The Avro Post if IGNITE is effective despite the scandals that have plagued it in the past such as the re-branding, Saffiya Lulat said that she knows the student union has “not been involved with any scandals”, but added that “there has definitely been an error in communications between The Avro Post and IGNITE.”

The Avro Post has been ignored by the elected executives for no official reason since August 2018, however, Vice President Maheen Nazim said last year she does not reply to requests for comment or interviews because the publication is “not sanctioned”.

When asked about whether she would also ignore requests from the independent student press, Lulat chose not to answer.

IGNITE gave The Avro Post club status for less than two weeks before kicking it from the union because it asked to review stories that included IGNITE before they were published, a request TAP did not comply with for journalistic integrity.

For any questions about her platform, contact Lulat on Instagram and Twitter @SaffiyaLulat, Facebook and LinkedIn at Saffiya Lulat and via email at Slulat01@guelphhumber.ca.


Full interview

Below is the full text of the interview Saffiya Lulat did with The Avro Post.

In one sentence, why should students vote for you?

As a current Board of Director, I had the opportunity to monitor IGNITE’s initiative and the elected officials progress, however, I strongly feel like I can make a bigger difference as the Vice President of the University of Guelph-Humber by advocating on behalf of GH students whose voices are, unfortunately, often left out. 

In whatever length you wish, why should students vote for you? What makes you stand out?

Students should vote for me because I’m familiar with IGNITE’s long-term plan, I have experience working with IGNITE on behalf of the students, and I’m in 3rd year so I have a lot of experience being a “Guelph-Humber student”. In addition, having worked for the federal government, I’m fairly confident that I can bring real change to GH to improve:

1. Financial Security for Students

2. Improve the academic experience

3. Make students life on campus more comfortable and enjoyable

Most importantly, I will follow through on my platform promises and be a voice for Guelph-Humber students. Next year is my last year at GH and I would like to make a positive impact to ensure a better campus life for current and future students so that we may continue to grow and develop to our full potential.

Do think that IGNITE is effective despite scandals that have existed in the past?

I know that IGNITE has not been involved with any scandals, there has definitely been an error in communication between the Avro Post and IGNITE.

What will you do for transparency with IGNITE?

In order to ensure transparency between IGNITE and the student body, I will ensure we continuously update the IGNITE website with any changes and/or updates. In addition, I will conduct more short and concise but informative survey’s so students are aware of everything IGNITE is doing to help GH students. Lastly, I hope that the elected BoD’s for this year are effective and ensure that IGNITE staff follow through on their platform ideas; I strongly believe that Afifa Abbaszadeh and Erika Caldwell would be fantastic BoD’s. Overall, transparency is absolutely necessary in order to gain students respect, trust, and cooperation in order to make a positive difference that will benefit everyone.

What kind of Vice President will you be?

A great one!

If you are a returning IGNITE executive, what do you think you can improve on from the time previous? 

Well, I’m currently running to be the Vice President of GH which is completely different than my current role as a Board of Director for IGNITE so I can’t compare my performance. However, whichever role I occupy I can guarantee that I give it my all and complete it to the best of my ability. I am dedicated, hardworking, and I take my job seriously. I’m here to capitalize on this opportunity by giving back to the school and making a positive difference that will have a lasting impact before I graduate and hopefully attend law school.

In simple points, what is your platform?

As posted on the IGNITE website, my current platform consists of the following:

1. Financial Security for Students

2. Improve the academic experience

3. Make students life on campus more comfortable and enjoyable

If you’re looking for an in-depth version:

1. Financial Security for Students

Problem: 

The Ford government significantly reduced funding so IGNITE needs to step up and provide an alternative measure because any student who faces financial insecurity cannot be expected to perform at their full potential which in turn is problematic for both the student and the respective educational institution.

Solution:

  • Add an addition section to GH Works where students can apply for external scholarships
  • Increase IGNITE financial assistance for students through scholarships and bursaries

2. Improve the academic experience

Problem: 

Often times, students simply go to class, do their assignments, and go home because there’s a lack of networking, events, and communication between our student union and clubs funded by IGNITE.

Solution: 

  • Implement monthly networking events so students can build stable relationships with professionals in their field that can benefit both their academic and personal development
  • IGNITE should work in partnership with IGNITE blubs to host more campus-wide events to encourage student participation and involvement from all programs and years of study
  • Advocate for more space and/or another building for GH because as the population of GH increases the space should increase simultaneously in order to avoid overcrowding (a safety hazard) and ensure a safe, quiet, and respective environment for everyone

3. Make students life on campus more comfortable and enjoyable

Problem: 

Many students spend more time on campus than at home and it should be a warm, inclusive, and comfortable environment for students to enjoy spending time at. Personally, I travel 2 hours to and 2 hours from GH (4 hours total!) and understand the difficulties of commuting.

Solution: 

  • Advocate on behalf of more study areas at GH so every student has a spot to sit, study, and make the most of their time on campus
  • IGNITE should work in partnership with external companies to provide additional resources for students. Ex. Discounted movie tickets, Transit pass, etc.

Is there anything else you would like to say? What else would you tell students about why they should vote for you?

If you want to vote for a Vice President who has simple, feasible, and effective ideas to implement then you should definitely vote for me! I’m here to listen to YOU, represent YOU, and work for YOU. Together, we can make a real difference!

IGNITE’s student union has completely ignored The Avro Post since August 2018, except to tell us we are ‘not sanctioned’. Will you agree to talk to the student press as a vice president?

N/A

What will your approach be to the OSAP cuts and especially the optional student fees? Will you release a line-by-line budget if elected?

Why won’t students opt in?

Students are responsible and they know that IGNITE offers programs like health, dental, and optometrist insurance which are necessary today more than ever with Ford’s unfortunate cuts of grants, OSAP repayment time, and OHIP medication cost coverage.

Furthermore, IGNITE ensures students receive scholarships and bursaries to relieve financial burden. 

In fact, the money students “opt in” to give is spent right back on students to ensure their academic, professional, and personal success.

As a student and current BoD I see the benefits of IGNITE and I know the students are intelligent enough to see it too. Therefore, I’m not worried about students choosing to opt out because they’re smart enough not to.


More details to follow. Image of Saffiya Lulat from IGNITE.

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The Avro Post was established as an independent student publication at Humber College’s North Campus in October 2017. Its mission is to report daily news, important updates and in-depth reporting that matters to students on campus.

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