Each spring, the Executive members of the UMGSA are decided in the annual General Election. Every graduate student enrolled at the University of Manitoba gets to vote, and candidates campaign on issues that affect graduate student life.

This year, the Election resulted in a tie for the Vice-President Services & Support Position. As a result, the UMGSA Council and Election and Referendum Committee have decided to hold a run-off election between the two candidates.

The following election results were ratified by the UMGSA Council on Wednesday, May 22nd 2019.

Final Election Results


Meet the Candidates

Okechukwu Efobi (successful candidate)

Okechukwu Efobi, candidate for the Vice-President Services & Support position

Hello, Grad Students. I am Okechukwu Efobi, a PhD candidate in Electrical and Computer Engineering. I studied for my undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Nigeria. Then I spent some years working as an academic support staff at a university and subsequently as an engineer at a utility company, both in Nigeria. In 2014, thanks to a Japanese Government scholarship, I travelled to Japan to study for a Master’s degree at Yokohama National University. 

My background includes working, from an early age, in my family business, both in junior and supervisory roles. I have also worked as an executive member in associations and volunteered in several organizations. 

These experiences have contributed in my penchant for identifying problems and seeking solutions to them. Thus, I have identified an issue that affects a large number of grad students and I intend to help find a way to improve the situation. Below is my key target as the VP Services & Support.

Key target as VP Services & Support: Improvement of U-Pass Transit Services to the campuses

The following throws some light on the problems with U-Pass, some facts, and how I intend to help alleviate the situation for students and the university community at large.

 Please consider the following issues:

  • Are you assessed the mandatory fee for U-Pass?
  • To or from the campus, had the bus failed to show up on time?
  • Had a bus driven past you at the stop because it was already full?
  • Did any of these issues or more affect your day and productivity?
  • Did you contact Winnipeg Transit to complain? Did they help?
  • Did you try contacting UMGSA or other university body for help?

Facts*:

  • Over 22, 000 U of M students are on the U-Pass program
  • Representing > $6 million in revenue for Winnipeg Transit
  • U-Pass covers only 8 months of the calendar year
  • U-Pass is about 10 % of revenue generated by Winnipeg Transit per annum; not counting the city and the province contributions

What am I driving at?

  • U-Pass is a great scheme, but the user experience needs some upgrade

How can I help?

  • As the Vice President Services & Support (VPSS), I would work with UMSU and other stakeholders to set up a system for performance evaluation of bus services to U of M campuses
  • Students’ reports will be used to create periodic Transit services scorecards. This information will then be used to demand improvements to Transit services
  • The coalition formed would strive to engage constructively with Winnipeg Transit, the city of Winnipeg, and other relevant parties to implement lasting changes that would upgrade transit services, which we collectively pay for through the mandatory U-Pass

 My other agenda as VPSS:

  • Continued advocacy for coverage of international students by MB Health: Unfortunately the Provincial Government have withdrawn coverage for international students. I will strive to bring up this matter for review whenever the opportunity presents itself. Meanwhile, I will study the current private insurance coverage and find ways to make it better while keeping costs down for the students.
  • Continued improvement of UMGSA events and boosting participation numbers: The UMGSA organizes several networking, social, sports, and orientation events annually. The previous executives who organized them did commendable jobs. I will take this lead and work on enhancing the experience for students at future events. One way of doing this is by engaging students through simplified polls in order to get their opinions. I would also consider decentralizing some UMGSA events or change the times so as to accommodate a wider range of members. Collaboration with the UMGSA councillors and the HSGSA would be key in making this proposal feasible and successful.

*Sources:

  1. CBC News, Sep 2 2018: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/u-pass-program-results-1.4808255
  2. Global News, Jan 17 2018: University of Manitoba Students’ Union wants changes to U-Pass
  3. Winnipeg Transit Budget: https://www.winnipeg.ca/interhom/Budget/2018Budget/pdfs/2018TransitBudgetPresentation20171201.pdf
  4. University of Manitoba: https://umanitoba.ca/admin/oia/students/1644.html

Eric Gagnon

Eric Gagnon, candidate for the Vice-President Services & Support position

Hello fellow graduate students! My name is Eric Gagnon and I am a first year MA student in the Department of Political Studies. Prior to this, I completed a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Studies with First Class Honours and a Bachelor of Arts (General) with Distinction in Philosophy and Sociology at the University of Manitoba. My research interests fall within the field of political philosophy, with a focus on the potential intersections between liberalism and Indigenous justice. 

During my time at the University of Manitoba, I have been heavily involved in student affairs. As an undergraduate, I was the Director of Finance for the Undergraduate Political Studies Student Association (UPSSA) and the Assistant Social Programmer and Graduate Student Representative for the Arts Student Body Council (ASBC). Currently, I am the UMGSA Co-Councillor for the Student Association of Masters of Politics and Public Administration (SAMPA). I have also served as a member of the UMGSA Bylaws Committee, Finance Committee, Executive Review Sub-Committee, and the Indigenous Ad Hoc Committee. 

Outside of university, I am actively involved in my home community of Sainte-Agathe. As a member of the Sainte-Agathe Community Development Inc. (CDI), I serve as the chairperson of the CDI’s organizing subcommittee for the Festival d’Été Cheyenne Summer Festival, the largest community festival in the municipality of Ritchot. I also enjoy volunteering my time as a music teacher and jam session supervisor at the local school in Sainte-Agathe. 

Policy Points 

Develop more event partnerships with departmental student groups and other groups on campus, such as Red Frogs and Justice for Women.
These partnerships would provide more in-kind support for departmental student bodies, improve event attendance records, encourage collaboration between departments, and introduce new and fresh ideas for events.
As VPSS, I would also like to coordinate with other student groups on campus, such as Red Frogs and Justice for Women, to increase safety at events and provide consent training and volunteer experiences for Graduate Students.

Make UMGSA events more accessible to all graduate students by including more family and child friendly elements into our programming.
Social events are great ways for grad students to get involved and meet other students on campus! However, it’s difficult to attend when family members have not been included in event plans. This is why I will strive to organize more events that are family-friendly, such as game nights, movie nights, and holiday and cultural celebrations.
Additionally, by introducing child-minding services at our events, as well as more alcohol-free programming, we can ensure that more graduate students are able to attend and be involved within the UMGSA community.

Build a more collaborative working relationship with the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU).
By building more partnerships with UMSU, UMGSA can join in existing campaigns and help expand them to become true campus-wide initiatives. Mental Health, Consent Culture & Sexual Violence Prevention, ReconciliACTION and Sustainability campaigns are stronger when all students can contribute.
It is also my intention to work closely with UMSU and the Red River College Students’ Association (RRCSA) in order to help develop a new Manitoban student advocacy organization. Such an advocacy group would represent the largest graduate, undergraduate, and college associations in Manitoba, and would help facilitate collective lobbying efforts across campuses. 

Advocate for a review of the University’s Student-Advisor Agreementsto ensure that graduate students are properly protected and their rights are being respected.
While the relationship between Graduate Students and their advisors can be an incredibly positive one, the closeness of this relationship does put some graduate students at an increased risk of being taken advantage of. Currently, there are measures in place on campus concerning sexual harassment; however, the rules surrounding other forms of exploitation are vague (ex: advisors pressuring graduate students to work unreasonable hours, or complete odd tasks).
As VPSS, I will advocate for a review of our University’s Student-Advisor Agreement to ensure that Graduate Students are being protected and treated fairly.  

Provide a strong voice for students in Health & Dental and U-PASS negotiations.
Many Graduate students do not follow an 8-month school schedule and need transportation in the summer. This is why we need a strong voice for Graduate Students when lobbying for a Summer U-PASS and for better quality transit services.
We as Graduate Students have diverse health needs. With a large international student community, we need to lobby for more accessible health coverage for international students and other additions that fit the needs of Graduate Students and their families. As the VPSS, I intend to be a strong voice for Graduate Students on the UMSU Members Service Committee and other related bodies. 


Timeline

“On-the-Floor” Campaign Period: Monday, May 13th to Tuesday, May 14th

Electronic Campaign Period: Monday, May 13th to Thursday, May 16th

Online Voting Period: Wednesday, May 15th to Thursday, May 16th


Relevant Policy Manuals


Relevant Forms