The following is an interview with Sajeth Paskaran conducted by Reia Tariq, Pro Tem’s Campus Life Editor. Sajeth is the Vice President Campaigns and Advocacy for Momentum, a newly founded slate in the upcoming YFS elections, taking place from February 13-16th.
Q. What do you feel differentiates Momentum from other parties running in this year’s YFS election?
A. We are a select group of individuals who share a common vision that also aligns with our views when it comes to policies and campaign points that we want to work towards. Our main difference is that we are striving to engage more than the 13.3% of students who have voted in past elections. We want to tackle systemic issues facing students here at York, through the lens of enhanced student engagement and equitable democratic practices.
Q. What are your top three platform points you want the student body to be aware of?
A. First, we want to approach the issue of ending student debt and ensuring that all aspects of education are truly accessible; this includes tuition fees, affordable housing, transportation costs, and food sustainability. Second, we want to enhance student engagement by having more frequent general assembly meetings, which would allow for the average York student to engage in the work of the union so that they can set the tone and direction of the YFS. This will allow effective mobilization of students to occur, which, we believe, can initiate significant systemic changes. Third, we want to take a stronger stance on accessibility on both campuses. This consists of several policy implementations that would need to occur to truly make this school accessible for all. For example, we want to advocate for an online platform for students to receive counselling services to reduce the stigma of students having to go in-person to receive such services. Furthermore, the York administration always seeks statistics when it comes to policy changes; we would like to see Admin start collecting statistics as to why people choose to drop out. Only when we do this, and are able to exhibit quantitative proof, will we be able to effectively lobby the administration to create change.
Pro Tip: For more information about these key platform points, check out Momentus’ social media @momentumforyfs, or website, momentumforyfs.com.
Q. What changes or policies do you have in place for Glendon, specifically, if elected?
A. Given the unique relationship the YFS has with Glendon students and their local union, the GCSU, it is imperative that equitable engagement be consistent during the whole year. Two significant changes we would be advocating for include an increase in the shuttle service from both campuses, particularly between 6:45pm and 9:15pm. We believe this would enhance academic participation, as well as intramural sports inclusion across the two campuses. The second would be to lobby the university alongside Glendon students for more sustainable food options at Glendon since there is currently an Aramark monopoly there. We believe that the lack of (affordable) options is a serious matter that needs to be addressed, particularly given the current conversations around ending student debt.
Q. Do you feel that it's time to switch to online voting?
A. We do believe that looking into online voting is necessary because it is a growing trend of preference. Matters of accessibility, convenience, and student engagement are at the forefront as to why students want online voting, especially when only 7000 or so students vote, out of a total York population of over 55 000 students. As potential elected representatives, we ought to represent and adapt to the changing mindset on how the union should operate.
Q. Tell us about Momentum team, what does each member running bring to the table and what motivated you to run?
A. The entire Momentum team brings to the table a fresh, committed, and engaged approach towards advocating on behalf of York students on the various issues that are important to us. We have no reputation or expectations to fulfill—we have a clean slate this election and have everything to prove, regardless of the results. Our main goal here is to get students informed about their local unions, to make it so that they know about the various resources available to them, and to be critical about how they are being represented. We are a unique group of individuals who were motivated to see substantial change at the union level with a unique approach to implementing change and mobilizing students.