Coleman wins in tight race

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Ashley Coleman was elected president and CEO of the Wilfrid Laurier University Graduate Students’ Association (GSA) yesterday for the 2013-14 term.

“I feel like I’m still in shock,” said Coleman following her win. “Already I’m starting to get all these ideas in my head about how to make the campaign platform issues that I have been talking about in the last two weeks happen and how to bring those to fruition.”

She explained that the first issue she will be tackling will be mental health on campus, a large aspect of her campaign.

“There aren’t a lot of relevant supports for graduate students,” she explained. “A lot of it is geared towards undergraduates.”

Of her campaign, Coleman said she had a “lot of support from [her] faculty and from [her] connections with the board of directors.”

She is currently a student in the masters of social work program in Kitchener and was chair of the board of directors for the GSA.

She explained that being based on the Kitchener campus presented a challenge in her campaign as it made it difficult to be visible on the Waterloo, Toronto and Brantford campuses.

One way she will be combatting this disconnect between campuses in the upcoming year will be by having rotating board meetings.

“We haven’t had a lot of involvement by Brantford students and by the students in Toronto. It’s unfortunate, but I don’t blame them,” she said.

Natalie Hancock was the runner-up for the position, who prior to the election expressed that she is looking forward to working with Coleman regardless of the results.

Sean Madden, the WLUGSA chief returning officer, expressed his excitement at having a race at the graduate level for the presidential position as the past several years have been acclamations.

“We’ve had a pretty good response from the membership actually,” he continued.“The Facebook group is pretty active and the events have been pretty active. So it’s really nice to see that kind of enthusiasm.”

Laleh Samarbakhsh, the current president and CEO, in foresight highlighted her hopes for the president-elect.

“I hope that they can deliver the vision that they have right now as a candidate,” she said.

“Sometimes you start running a campaign with a full vision of what you want to achieve and then once in the position you’re goingto see how things work out in the functional way.”

Coleman will be shadowing Samarbakhsh for the next month until her term begins on May 1st. Samarbakhsh congratulated both candidates for having the courage to run.

“We at the GSA office are very proud of both ladies. Highly skilled, highly capable and knowledgeable about the organization and I wish both of them success.”

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