Below are statements submitted by election candidates. They will be identified by their name and the position they are running for. If you are a candidate, you may submit a statement of no more than 250 words to email@example.com, and it will be posted that day.
Kimber Munford: Candidate for Vice President External
Hello! My name is Kimber Munford (she/her), and I’m a PhD student in my second year in the School of Environmental Sciences. I’m running for the position of Vice President External because I genuinely love advocating on behalf of my fellow workers.
I have been involved in political organizing and advocacy my entire life, from Manitoba to Ontario. I have experience in union organizing as the VP of Unit 2 (graduate students) at CUPE 3908 (Trent University) from 2018-2019, where I helped lead a coalition of local labour organizations and student groups to campaign against Doug Ford’s cuts to education. Our coalition organized many actions against the Ford government’s policies and worked hard to have our issues recognized by Trent’s administration.
In my time with CUPE 3908, I also worked on issues surrounding graduate student funding and completion times, focusing on the way that pressure to complete degrees on time can lead to exploitation of student labour, particularly for International students. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I have been advocating for justice for International graduate students and students with disabilities, who are disproportionately harmed by the effects of this devastating pandemic. I believe that as your Vice President External, I could help foster relationships between our union and campus/local labour groups and improve recognition of the effects that this pandemic is having on precarious workers.
Christopher Hempel: Candidate for Vice President Internal
Hi! I’m Chris (he/him), a third year PhD student in the College of Biological Sciences. I am running for the position of the Vice President Internal, which is responsible for maintaining and updating the CUPE 3913 website.
I served as a CUPE3913 Departmental Steward and College steward in the past, and, therefore, know where our internal and external communication is working and where it can be improved. And I believe that I can set these improvements in motion by restructuring our website and how we communicate. This restructuring will include centralized weekly and monthly updates, an “important dates” calendar, and providing more information about how CUPE3913 works, among others.
If you would appreciate such improvements, I would like to ask you to vote for me for the Vice President Internal position during the upcoming election 😊
Safia Mahabub Sauty: Candidate for Equity Officer
I’m Safia Mahabub Sauty (she/her), and I’m a Ph.D. student in my second year in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology. I’m running for the position of Equity Officer in the upcoming CUPE 3913 election and I’ll be working for the traditionally marginalized and under-represented minority (URM) members, should I win this election. I’m a visible minority student (POC, female, religious minority) and I’m proud of every part of my identity. That being said, I understand firsthand the unconscious bias, lack of education and sensitivity that prevail in our community against URMs. As the equity officer, I want to address these issues by raising awareness, creating proper channels for URMs to communicate and voice their concerns, and working to create an inclusivity-fostering environment where everyone can flourish as their true selves. I’ve been working with my department’s Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) committee as a grad student representative for the past year and my experience has been extremely educative and rewarding. It also gave me the opportunity to work with the Office of Diversity and Human Rights and some of the most prominent EDI allies on campus. I’m currently working as a Department Steward for CUPE 3913, and while I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my time in this job, the position of equity officer will allow me to work for a cause I deeply care about from a better capacity. I’m aware of the cause, I’m aware of the resources, and I have a strong personal drive to create a better experience for my URM peers. I hope you support me in the election, and regardless of that, I hope you never fail to recognize how truly deserving you are of your place at UoG. Thank you!
Alireza Zolfaghari: Candidate for Equity Officer
My name is Alireza Zolfaghari, and I am a third-year Ph.D. candidate in Service Management from the Lang School of Business and Economics. Since Fall 2019, I have served as the department steward in the union. Throughout my service in the CUPE, I noticed despite the union’s effort to support the members, most of the teaching assistants were not much familiar with the CUPE’s services. Other than the benefit claims, members would never approach CUPE asking for support. As a department steward, I strived to make the students aware of their rights, especially during the pandemic, which adversely affected their work assignments. However, I still see much room for improvement. That is why I decided to play a more critical role in the CUPE and nominated myself for the executive committee’s equity officer. As the equity officer, my primary responsibility will be chairing the equity committee. I will be in close contact with local caucuses to discuss the issues, concerns and elevate the voices of traditionally marginalized, constituency oppressed, and underrepresented members. This is important because the majority of the graduate students are either international students or those of immigrant descent, and they might have experienced challenges including but not limited to language barriers, cultural differences, social interaction issues, and legal rights. As an international student who worked as a teaching assistant in large-scale classes, I believe I am quite familiar with these issues, and I am an excellent choice to represent my fellow TAs in the CUPE. I will do my best to echo the voices of those who feel marginalized and provide them with more support from the union. Considering my background and plans, I hope I can have your support in the upcoming election.
Abolfazl Rahimnejad: Candidate for Member Representative
My Name is Abolfazl Rahimnejad, and I am a third-year PhD candidate in Intelligent Control Systems from the School of Engineering. Since Fall 2019, I have served as the department steward in the union. Throughout this time of working in the CUPE, I noticed that the department members have been experiencing some issues that may be common among all members. This is why I am running for the position of Member Representative as I have the vision of working with all CUPE members (GTAs and SLs) to deliver their needs & concerns to the corresponding authorities to find out appropriate solutions. If I have the opportunity of being selected as your representative, my main objective would be to preserve your rights, the most violated of which is the members’ workloads based on my experience.
Syeda Manjia Tahsien: Candidate for College Steward for CPES
My Name is Syeda Manjia Tahsien, and I have recently completed my MASc. from the School of Engineering Specialization in Artificial Intelligence. I am currently running for the position of College Steward from College of Physical and Engineering Science (CPES) as I have the vision to work with student’s, TAs, and staff to find out their needs and preserve their rights and deliver these to the proper place to find out suitable solutions. I am currently involved with the CUPE 3913 local student Union as chair of Disability Caucus from 2019 so that I can carry out the message of the students to the union and help them accordingly.
In addition, I am serving as a Community life facilitator officer at the University of Guelph Family Housing where I need to manage our student families with their issue and arrange various activities for them time to time. I am also working with GSA as a General Director (Engineering) and GES as a VP Finance. During my masters, I was involved with some of the voluntary works with the university such as involved during international student orientation program and health and safety classroom monitor officer. With your one vote I can be your representative as a College Steward from CPES.
If I have the opportunity to serve you, then my first priority will be arrange a virtual meeting (due to COVID-19) with all Departmental Stewards and all members to get an updated information and issues so that I can bring that to the union and can prepare for the next bargaining period. In that way, I want to preserve all the rights of my fellow mates from my college so that nobody can deprive of their rights and all members can feel comfortable to see that someone is representing them. I hope you all will support me and help me to be elected as a College Steward from CPES.