Back to the ballot box

Back to the ballot box

CSA looks for a president in early by-election 

The Central Student Association (CSA) is gearing up for its second election for the 2017 to 2018 academic year, with the presidential position still available. During the annual general election, Jay Rojas ran unopposed for president, but was not selected by the undergraduate membership to represent them by a margin of 2.31 per cent.

The CSA board of directors has decided to conduct an early by-election to avoid running without a president until October.

This time around, three candidates—Chelsea Mulvale, Ethan Pankhurst, and Zoey Ross—have entered the electoral race.

As the president, whoever is elected will be expected to work with the rest of the executive, made up of three vice presidents, and the board of directors to fight for the interests of their undergraduate membership.

Voting for the candidates will run from April 3 until 5, and 10 per cent of the undergraduate population must come out to cast a vote in order to reach quorum.

The Ontarion had the opportunity to meet with each of the candidates to discuss their platforms and motivation for running.

Chelsea Mulvale

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Mulvale’s campaign is built on nurturing an inclusive campus, bringing a greater focus to mental health resources on campus, and connecting communities at the University of Guelph.

“I think one role of the president is presenting initiatives and starting new initiatives and it’s not really up to me to decide what those initiatives are,” said Mulvale. “The main initiatives should really come from collaboration with college governments, student groups, the other execs, and the staff members who are more experienced.”

In the 2017 general election, Mulvale was one of three candidates running for vice president external, placing second and garnering 30.85 per cent of the vote.

From that, they have learned about engaging with the undergraduate community for the by-election.

“I see a lot of flaws in my previous campaign for the reach that I would have had on campus,” said Mulvale. “For this campaign, I’m really looking to improve on that by doing more classroom talks and by trying to get to different areas that I wasn’t able to on my last campaign.”

Leading up to the by-election, Mulvale was asked why they chose to run for president after being unable to secure nomination for vice president external.

“When I was deciding on what position I was going to run for, it was between president and [vice president] external because I felt like they both suited me and my skill sets the most. I ended up choosing external because it was going to provide me with more new experiences in terms of directly working in politics.”

As an OUTline facilitator, Mulvale has worked with committee supervision and believes “that creates more lines for transparency and accountability, which are values that I hold really dear to myself.”

Ethan Pankhurst 

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Pankhurst hopes that, if elected as president, there will be greater transparency in both the financial operations of university spending and continued transparency in the financial operations of the CSA.

“The CSA gets about $16 from each student, but when you look at what the administration gets, it’s just a big lump sum of three or four thousand dollars for tuition,” said Pankhurst. “I’d like to see that broken down a little bit more—how much is going to professors, how much is going to programming, how much is going to infrastructure, and how much is going towards administration? I want to make sure that the administration is using the money that students give them wisely.”

Though he doesn’t have experience running for a CSA position, Pankhurst has been involved with student organizations before.

“I was vice president of the political science society in my third year. I co-founded the NDP on campus, also in my third year. This year I’ve stayed out of any organizations—I was focusing on work and school,” said Pankhurst.

The CSA club space renovation has been a contentious issue on campus, with advocates of both sides voicing their opinion at the annual general meeting.

Pankhurst believes that improvements can be made to the existing plan to accommodate all parties.

“There are solutions out there. They just need to designate some space for clubs that have a big enough member base and would use the space appropriately for permanent space and the rest can continue to be rented out as planned.”

Zoey Ross

Mariah Bridgeman | The Ontarion

Ross, who has acted as both a representative on the board of directors and as the communications and corporate affairs commissioner, is running on a platform that focuses on building community.

“I’m really focused on making sure that the work the CSA has accomplished over this year gets finished next year. That includes looking at the clubs, and anyone who feels displaced or is displaced after losing their club room, and making sure they thrive in the new spirit of the community that is being built.”

Ross has three focuses for his campaign: “Improved community, better board structure, and a focus on empathy for all students.”

In regards to his experience with the CSA, Ross believes that his role as the communications and corporate affairs commissioner will allow him to focus on his responsibilities as president rather than spending the beginning of his term in training.

“While the president is a new role, it does combine a lot of the previous aspects of the communications and corporate affairs commissioner position, and I think I’ll really thrive in that because of my past experience at the CSA,” said Ross.

Ross had originally intended to run in the 2017 general election, but withdrew his nomination before the official nominations were announced.

Ross has also been on leave from his role as the communications and corporate affairs commissioner since March 6, and will be until his contract has concluded on April 30.

“I took some time off—I needed a bit of a break, and I chose to not run in the last election and run in the by-election. I’m at a good place. I’ve had a lot of support—actually, a lot of people have emailed me and sent me messages on Facebook and all kinds of social media supporting me to run this race.”

Photos by Mariah Bridgeman/The Ontarion.