Below are the candidate statements for the Spring 2020 Election Cycle. If you are a TSSU member, you will receive a voting token by email and will be able to cast your vote between March 8 and March 14. If you do not receive a voting token by March 9, please contact trustee@tssu.ca.

Good luck for the candidates!

Solidarity and Social Justice Commissioner – Armina Salemi

Greetings to all!

My name is Armina Salemi, a master student in Mechatronic Systems engineering and I am running for Solidarity and Social Justice Commissioner. I became more involved with SFU student community after the internet shut down in my country. By that time, I had a strong feeling that someone has to do something and then I realized: I am someone.

So, I started communicating with faculties and departments for both deadline extension and raising awareness towards the matter. I also proposed the idea of waiving application fee which evolved into “application fee reduction for countries in economic crisis”. This is what I’m currently working on.

When the plane crash of flight 752 happened, I assisted the organization of the Memorial ceremony for victims, trying to gather all the solidarity and support. As the only cures for such tragic accidents is love and kindness.

I strongly believe “Injustice anywhere, is a threat to justice everywhere”, and it is not a matter to be taken lightly. It is not only about noticing the wrong, but having the courage to correcting it. It requires tenacity and pertinacity, which I’m described with. I am tough enough to seek Justice and soft enough to form Solidarity, which makes me a strong candidate for this position.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

Armina

Solidarity and Social Justice Commissioner – Chantelle Spicer

My name is Chantelle Spicer. My ancestry on my mother’s side is Jewish Moroccan and Austrian. On my father’s side, I am Mi’kmaq from Nova Scotia, though was raised out of community and teachings because he was adopted by a settler family in the 1960s. I have been an engaged member of the community during the last 10 years I have lived on various Coast Salish territories which includes activism with the Nanaimo and Downtown Eastside Women’s Centers, the BC Federation of Students, Students for Consent Culture Canada, numerous labour unions and district councils, the Coast Salish Watch House, BC government working groups, and resurgent community organising with Indigenous peoples on and off campus in BC. At SFU, I am a first-year Master’s student in Anthropology researching the potential of repatriating Indigenous lands out of parks systems. With TSSU, I have worked on the RA membership drive, the restructuring working group, and am the steward for my department.

The Solidarity and Social Justice Committee was my entry point into the TSSU, as it has been for many. My work with this committee over the last year has been the best part of my experience as a graduate student at SFU – a reminder of life outside of academia and the work that is important to my heart. This makes it an important committee not only for our allies and partners with whom we create relationships of solidarity, but also for the mobilisation and mental health of our members. It is my intent to chair and facilitate this committee in a way that empowers and supports people in doing the work that is their heart work.

I am able to do this from many years’ experience in facilitating student task forces related to institutional policy analysis, leading the Vancouver Island University Students’ Union women’s collective, organising the Nanaimo Women’s March in 2017 & 2018 in partnership with our the VIU Faculty Association and the Nanaimo District Labour Council, and working as the Chair of my Students Union. This has given me the experience and understanding that working as a Commissioner or Chair is not about your own goals, but about how to mobilise your own networks and skills to create principled relationships of solidarity to empower others in their meeting our shared goals. The way I plan to enact the position of SSJC Commissioner is to create environments and change in ways that people know they are and can be a part of it.

This is a time of monumental change in Canada on many fronts including labour rights, gender-based violence, and Indigenous rights. This cannot happen in an environment of division. Committees like the SSJC are important in providing opportunities to members to engage with diverse opportunities to learn about and engage with issues that matter to them. It is important for our wider communities and mass movements who need the solidarity of our 3,000 TSSU members in achieving social change.

Over my last year with the TSSU and SSJC, we have been involved in issues that range from education on migrant worker rights to picketing with Unite Here Local 40 to standing against the Kinder Morgan Pipeline. I am excited to continue supporting these important initiatives and efforts of our membership. I look forward to learning what the membership of the SSJC and TSSU want to do moving forward in this time of change.

Chief Steward II – Seamus Grayer

Hello TSSU members!

My name is Seamus and I am running for Chief Steward II. I am a steward in the Communication department, regularly organizing info sessions, helping members, and coordinating with my fellow stewards. Last March you elected me Solidarity & Social Justice Commissioner and I have spent the last year facilitating the SSJC, organizing events, standing solidarity with other unions and social justice groups, and writing plenty of letters. I have also served as a member of the Grievance Committee since 2018.

I am excited about the possibility of working as one of your Chief Stewards. I have spent some time with the outgoing Chief Steward as note taker, attending several grievance meetings and trying to get a sense of the process in action. I have enjoyed my time as steward and Grievance Committee member and would love to continue to enforce the collective agreement, organize and mobilize the membership, and build our power as workers.

In solidarity,

Seamus

Secretary – Hollis Schmidt

Howdy comrades B)

Hollis (he/they) is a second-year Master’s student in Criminology studying anti-imperialist armed and unarmed struggle in Northern Ireland who is hoping to become your new Secretary! He’s been a steward since he began his MA in 2018 and also served as the co-chair of the Criminology Graduate Caucus in 2018. During the campaign to unionize research assistants, Hollis worked with TSSU’s SSJC Commissioner to create and manage the Research Assistants @ SFU page with an organizer from Tuition Freeze Now with the mission of creating content to ‘stir the pot’ regarding unjust practices against RAs and garner support for unionization. Currently, he continues to supplement the Softball campaign with his efforts in MMC. He is also a member of UBC Hillel and SFSS Out On Campus and organizes events between several of these groups and serves as a liaison for them, though he wishes to gain a more active role in TSSU and pursue additional union work upon graduation.

In sol.,

Hollis Schmidt

Treasurer – Zora Feren

Greetings, my name is Zora and I have been serving as your interim Treasurer for the last few months.  I’m the one who presented the scary budget at the last General Membership meeting.

I am excited to be working with TSSU at this important but financially unsure time.  We’re bringing hundreds of new members into TSSU thanks to the incredible organizing and enormous amount of work our existing members and allies put into the campaigns over the last year, but until we can get these members their representation (in the form of a contract) we have to be especially aware of our spending. 

I would like to maintain my role as Treasurer to assist in this transformation of our membership, with the ability to offer services and support to all members, but to also safeguard the financial health of our Union for the future.

In Solidarity,

Zora

Trustee II – Amal Vincent

Dear fellow TSSU members,

I am Amal Vincent (pronouns he/him), currently serving as Trustee II for the Teaching Support Staff Union. As I approach the completion of my term, I am once again asking for your support to be re-elected. During my term as the Trustee, I have strived to help interpret and enforce the TSSU by-laws and other governing documents without any prejudice. 

I am currently a Master of Science student in the School of Interactive Arts and Technology. My involvement with the TSSU began in 2017, during my first month at SFU when I was elected as one the TSSU stewards for my department. I have been proactive in taking up union work and presently serve on multiple TSSU committees including the Contract Committee. 

I am thankful to past and present TSSU members, executives and staff in constantly mentoring and training me to serve the union better. If re-elected, I would continue to repay the faith put into me, by working towards ensuring proper conduct within the union.

Feel free to reach out to me if you have any questions at amalv@sfu.ca.

In Solidarity

Amal

Organizer – Lea Hogan

Before becoming an active member of TSSU, I remember feeling isolated in my job and studies. There was a community but it felt isolated in my small department in the Contemporary Arts. I wanted a community looking to improve our experiences here at SFU. When I applied to become a Steward, I met the Organizers and slowly found that expansive community in all the folks in TSSU. Since then, I’ve become a member of the Contract Committee, Solidarity and Social Justice Committee, Membership Mobilization Committee, Anti-Harassment Committee, Grievance Committee, and a delegate for the Vancouver and District Labour Council. Additionally, I helped with organizing our members in Downtown Vancouver during the RA Campaign, expanding our presence within departments that had no TSSU presence. As Organizer, I want to continue to grow our presence in more departments that needs the support TSSU offers. My skills in art management will be a useful tool since the job involves being connected to different groups and managing the communication needed for everyone to work towards their goals. As I continue helping with training sessions and orientations, I see the need to inspire a passion within everyone to work towards improving the working conditions for all positions represented in TSSU.  All members of TSSU are the pillars of SFU that allow this institution to function. We provide an important role in student experiences but we lose out when our jobs are not secure. When we come together, we make these changes happen. I want to continue giving all our members a chance to be a part of TSSU that will help improve our working conditions while finding themselves a community that cares deeply for all workers beyond just our members. I hope to pass this along to every member who wants to get involved.

Organizer – Ed Graham

My name is Ed Graham and I am asking you to vote for me as the next Organizer of TSSU! I have been involved with nearly every part of the union since I began my PhD at SFU almost three years ago. I have been TSSU’s Secretary for the past year, and have been a member of a number of committees: Social Justice and Solidarity, Membership and Mobilization, Contract, Health and Safety, and Internal Relations.

  When elected Organizer, it will be my goal to continue in the spirit of last year’s successes. I will develop the incredible work of our RA campaign organizers in building relationships within and between workers in all departments. This means building bridges within TSSU membership, focusing on education that connects our TAs and TMs to members from our important but less-represented job categories, such as Sessional and ELC/ITP instructors. We need to make sure members on all campuses are involved in the union – Surrey will not be left behind! As your Organizer, I will ensure that all voices are heard as TSSU prepares to fight for and win its biggest, and best, Collective Agreement yet. 

I hope to continue a culture where every member knows their rights, is equipped to educate, agitate, and be empowered to become an organizer themselves. The coming year presents a lot of challenges, but I know that the strength of the membership will push us through. I’d be honoured to help further build our collective power. Thank you for reading!

In solidarity,

Ed