Spring 2022 Elections Candidate Statements

Below are the candidate statements for the Spring 2022 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 7 and March 11. If you do not receive a voting token by March 8, please contact trustees@tssu.ca.

Good luck for the candidates!

Solidarity and Social Justice Commissioner

Tiara Cash

Halito friends! Sah hachifo yvt Tiara Cash! – Hey friends! My name is Tiara Cash and I am running for this year’s Solidarity and Social Justice Commissioner. I’ve been a part of the SSJC for two years now and have worked on various projects including: Solidarity Letter with Palestine, Transformative Justice Event Organizing, No Cops on Campus Working Group, and many more. I am a Queer Black woman with Indigenous heritage from the states who hopes to utilize these ways of being and knowing to help ground my community leadership of the SSJC in this capacity. I am honored to be considered and would definitely appreciate the vote! If you have any questions at all, please feel free to reach out to me at: tiara_cash@sfu.ca

Chief Steward II

Naima Osman

Hello Members!

My name is Naima Osman, and I am running for the position of Chief Steward II.

I am a MSc Candidate in the Faculty of Health Sciences, where I currently serve as one of the stewards. I was first elected in the fall of 2020, which became the catalyst for my active involvement within TSSU. I have served on the grievance committee and member mobilization committee. I have worked on the ongoing RA campaign. I have assisted the current Chief Steward II, with grievance proceedings at the informal, step I, and step II stages. I have also helped review TA/TM postings to ensure departments adhere to the collective agreement. My different roles within the union thus far have given me great insight into the outreach and advocacy aspects of TSSU.

It was my experience assisting with the grievance process that has pushed me to run for the position of Chief Steward II. My previous work experiences revolved around advocacy for refugees and other vulnerable populations in BC. I am very familiar with the variety of injustices that can arise from power imbalances. During my time at SFU, I have worked as a TA, TM, and RA. Though I had mostly smooth experiences, I am very aware that is not the case for many of our members. SFU is a large institution, and it is easy to find ourselves working in silos, emphasized recently by the pandemic. The union’s power is in our membership, and right now it is integral we come together to protect our rights and benefits AND pursue those still owed to our RA members. SFU would not be able to function without the hard work of our members and I want to help ensure that work is recognized and appreciated fairly!

In solidarity, Naima (she/her/hers)

Felix Ruiz de La Orden

I have been a steward in the English Department since starting my master’s degree in September 2020.
It seemed important to get involved with the union right away, considering I was starting my post as a
teaching assistant early in the pandemic while many people were still getting used to working on Zoom.
I wanted to help the teaching assistants, sessional instructors, and research assistants navigate their
rights during a time when the university ramped up its exploitative practices. Since then, I’ve received
training from the union on the collective agreement, the BC Labour Relations Code, the duty of fair
representation, and discipline investigations. I have been a member of the Grievance Committee since
December 2020 and have recently joined the Member Mobilization Committee in order to help with the
hardball campaign to get research assistants a collective agreement. Last year, I got first hand grievance
procedure experience as a notetaker in a meeting that settled a dispute with the University. One of the
reasons why I want to be your second chief steward is because I am eager to get more involved with this
process. As a steward, I have come to understand how important it is to listen and take every and all
grievances seriously. I want to work closely with all stewards across the university not only to provide
the training, help, and resources they need to handle the grievances and inquiries brought to them by
members, but to strengthen cross-departmental solidarity. Part of my role as steward has been to make
sure members know the union has their back. I hope to carry this practice to the Chief Steward position,
build solidarity, and help members find opportunities to get involved.

Secretary-Treasurer

Mahsa Ansari

Dear TSSU,
My name is Mahsa Ansari and I am running for the position of Secretary-Treasurer. I am in the third year
of the Ph.D. program in the Department of Mathematics. I have been one of the TSSU stewards in our
department for almost six semesters now. Moreover, I was the treasurer of our GSS caucus for three
semesters, and I currently, work as the treasurer of the Association of Women in Math.
I would like to serve as a Secretory-Treasurer for several reasons. Firstly, having the experience of

serving as the treasurer and being familiar with the institutional environment, I believe that I am well-
equipped for the position of Secretory-Treasurer in TSSU. Secondly, I strongly believe in equity and

justice, and I believe that the community of RA students is suffering from injustice. RAs are hardly
working while their work is not considered as work by SFU. I participated in RA boot camp and rally and
tried to convince other students to start fighting for their rights. Now, I am ready to be in the front line
of fighting for getting a Collective Agreement for RAs.
On the other hand, through my lived experience as a TA/TM, I found out that many grad students are
not aware of their rights as TA/TM. As a TSSU steward, I tried to raise TA/TMs’ awareness about their
rights. However, I believe that we still need to empower the stewards’ network and consequently
increase solidarity and knowledge about employment rights.
It would be an honour for me to devote my skills and efforts to the union to make sure the
administrative and financial aspects of the union function well enough to support the valuable cause of
the Union’s goals. Your vote will help me to play a more active role in TSSU.

Zhiyun (Richard) Peng

Hello everyone!

My name is Zhiyun (Richard) Peng and I am running for the position of Secretary-Treasurer. I am a TA, RA, PhD student in computing science. I am a member in TSSU finance committee. I have experience as the current treasurer for the Computer Science Graduate Student Association. I am an occupational health and safety representative serving for South East Safety Committee. Also, I am a TSSU steward in school of computing science. 

With the current financial state of TSSU, my aims in this position are to:

1- using my skillful number processing ability to calculate, visualize and simply the numerial documents so that they are easy to understand and to use.

2- increase cooperation within TSSU by recruiting more members to our finance committee (eg, making use of the MMC's activity like the marking party in 2021.12)

3- enhance regular reviews of possible new, to-combine and to-archive budget items; moreover, review TSSU important financial events and how the numbers in finance can help (e.g. new MMC's activity, RA contract negotiations, TSSU benefits).

Thank you for reaching up to this line! Wish you have a beautiful day 😀

Zhiyun (Richard) Peng

Trustee I

Marissa Traversa

I am a graduate student in the social psychology department working on intergroup relations and social justice research in online/social media collective action and group interactions. This research focuses on the perspectives of groups who have faced harm online and centers the voices of those who are often marginalized by dominant systems. I have been an active member of the SSJC since 2020 and am familiar with the appropriate TSSU conduct and meeting protocol. I am also a founding and facilitating member of the No Cops on Campus Coalition (NCOC), which is a newly formed abolition group working closely with the TSSU, SSJC, and GSS, and has been endorsed by many campus groups (e.g., SOCA, FNMISA, SFSS, etc.). Through my work with the SSJC and NCOC, I have actively led and participated in multiple letter-writing campaigns, including open letters and solidarity statements (e.g., Palestinian protestors, Indigenous survivors of residential schools and their decedents, open letter to SFU regarding inadequate COVID safety protocols, etc.). I have also helped organized panel talks that centre Black and Indigenous voices and perspectives, as well as climate protests (divestment from fossil fuels and anti-TMX protests hosted by SFU350), among other work. Outside of SFU, I am a member of the researching team within an Anti-TMX community.

Trustee II

Scott Yano

I am Scott Yano, and running for the position of Trustee. Terms as a Chief Steward (Nov., 2017-Nov., 2019), one year as Trustee II (2021-2022) an ELC/ITP shop steward (2006-21), a member of all contract committees dating back to 2005, the Grievance Committee since 2014, the 2012 Strike Committee, and a general member of the TSSU since December, 2004, have helped develop my understanding of the history of the union and its inner workings over time, and of the personal, political, financial, and legal realities of union operations. Trustee work involves language interpretation and drafting of bylaws, and both my academic and union work support this. The implementation, creation, and interpretation of bylaws, and conducting of elections and referenda, guide the union towards achieving its collective goals, and I would like to continue to be a part of the collective effort that ensures that this can take place productively now and into the future.