Transitioning to begin for president-elect, Kanwar Brar

Photo by Paige Bush

On Jan. 26, Kanwar Brar was officially elected as the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union president for the 2017-18 term.

The results for both Students’ Union president, Board of Governors, Senate and Students’ Union Board of Directors were announced at the #LaurierVotes Results Party held at Wilf’s. For the 2017 Students’ Union election, voter turnout was 22.22 per cent of student population of Laurier, which dropped from approximately 26 per cent from 2016.

“When you put it into perspective, [last year] there were two presidential candidates and 20 board candidates and the turnout was at 26 per cent. Whereas this year was only one presidential candidate and 15 board candidates … I think the turnout could have been much lower [sic],” Kanwar Brar, incoming Students’ Union president and CEO, said.

Nick DeSumma, chair of the board of directors, also reiterated that student turnout throughout the campaign period and voter turnout were low.

“[It was] very engaged on the candidacy front and the campaign front, but the turnout front just wasn’t there. There was low attendance to events. It felt a lot of the time that we were pushing to get votes, but it was a good campaign period. I’m happy that we had 22 per cent … so I’m satisfied but I still feel that we can do so much more,” DeSumma said.

DeSumma explained that thinking of ideas and strategies to get a larger voter turnout has been a focus of his.

“Even two candidates just isn’t enough to get 74 per cent of the population voting, it’s how do we reach those students that just don’t want to be reached,” DeSumma said.

He explained that it can be difficult to accommodate such a large variety of students, such as mature students, students who commute and those who don’t necessarily stay on campus long enough to vote or hear about the candidates’ campaigns and platforms.

“How do we locate those students, that’s, I think, the next conversation that we should be having,” DeSumma said.

DeSumma also explained that with 11 new directors starting in May, it will be crucial to begin the transition process as soon as possible.

Tarique Plummer, who received the majority of the student vote, is the only returning director from the current board.  Other board members elected for next year’s board are Michael Del Bono, Emily Rezkalla, Klaudia Wojtanowski, Ilana Roitman, Idris Omar Hassan, Kevin Bonnell, Zemar Hakim, Moumita Paul, Dana Toameh, Ricky Liu and Joseph Small.

“They’re all leaders, but it’s easier to transition some new directors when you have directors who’ve been there before because you’re not teaching them all the ropes,” DeSumma said.

By bringing current directors to various training sessions, this issue will hopefully be resolved.

Since elected, Brar said he has been busy thinking about Students’ Union vice-president applications and getting ready for their interviews.  He said he has been focusing on picking the best team possible and hiring those who are best suited for the roles, while making sure both his goals and his team’s goals align so that they can work well together.

Additionally, Brar has spent the last few days shadowing Tyler Van Herzele, current Students’ Union President. Brar has been attending meetings alongside Van Herzele and working with him in the office in order to learn the essential details of the role.

“I think that’s [going to] be really beneficial for the next three months in preparation of me taking office on May 1,” Brar said.

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