By Jake MacAndrew, Racy Rafique & Gabriela Silva Ponte
The Toronto Metropolitan Students’ Union (TMSU) is hosting elections for its 2023-24 term.
Voting began on Tuesday, March 21 at 10 a.m. and will last until Friday, March 24 at 5 p.m.
There are 33 total candidates participating in the elections, with 12 students running for five executive positions on the Board of Directors—president, vice president equity, vice president education, vice president operations and vice president student life. There are 21 candidates running for 15 faculty and student representative positions.
Candidate for vice-president student life Shahram Farhadi and candidate for vice-president operations Nathan Sugunalan are both running under the Dream slate this election.
Sugunalan told The Eyeopener in a joint interview with his running mate that their slate focuses on community building and striving for a fun, educational undergraduate experience.
“[Shahram and I] shared a bit of the same vision, and we kind of came to the same conclusion in the fact that we thought that we can talk about great ideas and do them as much as you can but we feel a dream is only a dream until you act on it and we have to make it a reality,” said Sugunalan.
“[Students] have something to say. They all want something and they all have a dream for what they want their undergrad experience to be. And it’s our job to listen to that as best as we can. And make that dream a reality to the best of our ability,” said Farhadi.
Nathan Sugunalan – vice president operations
Nathan Sugunalan is a geographic analysis student and previously served as the Faculty of Arts senator. He later served as the TMSU vice president education after the position opened following Umar Abdullah’s resignation from the role at the July BoD meeting, as previously reported by The Eyeopener.
He was inspired to run for the position following the influx of independent candidates that won in last year’s TMSU election.
“We saw the independents win last year and it was such a big shift from [previous elections]. It was just really inspiring,” said Sugunalan. “Let’s take this as far as we can. Rebuild this place and just have a great experience for [undergraduate students and] whoever’s coming after us.”
He said one of the biggest changes has been the increased transparency within the students’ union.
Sugunalan plans to bring in an external consulting firm to report on the progress of the union similar to the annual audits currently in place. Additionally, he would add a live updated budget on the TMSU website.
“This is the students’ money, we collect it and then after we put it to work for them, for whatever services that we have, whatever services we develop, they can see where it’s going. And that’s one thing that I really wanted to…be more public with our budget,” said Sugunalan.
He said being more interactive with students is on his list of priorities. He’s looking to do that through hosting more town halls, conducting surveys and implementing community-wide grants.
Sugunalan said although he only joined the TMSU executive team in October of last year with many issues to fix, it motivated him to make strides in actions such as the bylaw amendments—which he said he was most involved with as an executive.
“I helped to rebuild the relationships with the other unions on campus,” said Sugunalan. “Over time, once they saw I was a more genuine person, they kind of opened up more to the TMSU.”
Shahram Farhadi – vice president student life
Shahram Farhadi is in his fourth-year of business technology management and is a student representative for the Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) senate.
Farhadi was a previous vice president events for the Information Technology Management Students’ Association and a Program Admin/Operations Lead for the Recreation and Athletics Centre.
He said TMSU events are currently socially-focused but he would like to add career-focused events like conferences and workshops for TMU students to grow their careers.
“A lot of [university students] are interested in professionally growing their career. That’s the reason why we’re here; for fun, but also an experience of actually learning and growing in your career,” said Farhadi.
Despite not being on the TMSU Board of Directors for the 2022-23 term, Farhadi said he noticed increased transparency throughout the union and upholding many promises such as Grammarly premium discounts.
The TMSU introduced a discounted subscription to Grammarly at the Semi-Annual General Meeting last December, as previously reported by The Eye.
“[The TMSU] did a lot of good things this year and I definitely want to be a part of that next year and take it a step further, improving much more and get to another level,” he said.