Zemar Hakim elected as 2019-20 Students’ Union president and CEO

Zemar Hakim has been elected as Wilfrid Laurier University’s 2019-2020 Students’ Union president and CEO. 

Hakim was officially elected into the position on the evening of Jan. 24, at the #LaurierVotes Results Night hosted at Wilf’s, with over 50 per cent of the vote.

Voter turnout this year raised to 23 per cent, in comparison to last year’s 22 per cent voter turnout, which also saw four candidates running for the president position.

Tarique Plummer, the current President of the Students’ Union, is very happy with the percentage of voter turnout this year — which is higher than it has been for the last two years — as well as the results of the election.

“We had a higher voter turnout than we really expected. As it relates to the candidate, the students chose who they thought was best. I fully support the decision — I would have supported any decision, but I support their decision,” Plummer said.

“I’m very grateful that we have our next Students’ Union President and I’ll try my best to make sure he’s prepared and as successful as possible for the entirety.”

After hundreds of hugs and congratulations from his peers, Hakim only had one word to describe how he felt after receiving 54 per cent of the vote to become Students’ Union President & CEO. 

“Grateful, very grateful — thank you,” Hakim said.

As for what he plans to do in his first steps as president: the goal is simple. 

“Going through with the initiatives that I promised the students,” Hakim said.

Hakim the dream, as his campaign slogan read, was backed by his team of supporters who helped life him to victory this elections season.

“My role as a candidate was literally to create the platform, research the platform and know everything about the students’ union, but my team did everything when it came to the campaign. So, I owe this victory to them, thank you very much my team, the Dream Team,” Hakim said.

Hakim also aims to be very involved with the student body, as what he looks forward to most next year is “to get to know every student on campus. Hopefully they look to me as an inspiration to get involved at Laurier,” Hakim said.

The most important part of the win is relaxing and celebrating — and the way the dream team plans to celebrate? 

“I’m gonna have a good time with my team and hopefully you guys will join me!” Hakim said. 

Talha Naeem, one of the runner-up Presidential candidates, has not allowed the loss to affect his outlook regarding the election process; nor has it impeded his ability to look favourably upon the future. 

“I still feel like a winner because this is life, right? You win some, you lose some. But at the end of the day, I’ve said that real winning is building relationships, real winning is building a team, real winning is building a community -- it’s not about the figures,” Naeem said.

Regarding voter turnout, as well as the percentage who chose him, Naeem was proud of the number of Brantford voters his campaign was able to inspire. 

“[Our campaigns] were very competitive -- all three candidates out of four have more than 1000 votes and I was one of them: I’m really proud of that,” Naeem said.

“We got the Brantford voters to come out … We burst the bubble in that sense and we brought in the new voters.”

Despite his loss, Naeem’s plans for the future still focus on Laurier and his original plans for the campuses.

“Things that I’m committed to, whether I become the President or not, I will still continue to advocate for that. There are stances that I am taking on mental health … I want to fight for Brantford student’s rights and I will keep pushing that. I want to fight for student tuition issues in affordability, of education and I will keep pushing that,” Naeem said.

Naeem sees a number of opportunities in the future for himself that don’t have to revolve around the Students’ Union. But tonight, he says, should be focused on the festivities.

“Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and I’ll be a new man. Tonight is a night to celebrate the victory of our team who have done an amazing job. But tomorrow is a new day -- and I’ve got new assignments and new tasks to accomplish,” Naeem said.

Wojtanowski, another runner-up in the presidential election, is also looking forward to what the future has in store for her. 

“The student body voted and all that I can assume is that it was the most informed vote and that they chose the best person that would represent them at the end of the day. I'm so happy and thankful for the experience: this is just the beginning for me,” Wojtanowski said. 

For Wojtanowski, a main goal in running for president was inspiring and motivating other undergraduate students to get involved within elections too.

In particular, Wojtanowski emphasized the importance of female and diverse representation — a component which has lacked on the board of directors the past few years. 

“I really hope that I inspired so many other people out there to run and to put their all and their heart out there … and especially the female population. Me not winning does not mean that we did not have a force … it just shows that it’s not about what gender you are it’s about who has the best idea,” Wojtanowski said. 

For Ibrahim Musa, this election season is just the beginning. As a second-year student, Musa is looking forward to continuing being involved.

“I’ve learned so much and no one can know everything ever. So honestly [I’m going] to get more involved in the university, try to learn as much as possible and this is definitely not the last of me,” Musa said.

Musa’s experience running for president, he explained, has taught him invaluable skills and given him new experiences.

“There’s so much I’ve taken away. Speaking skills; speaking in front of crowds; being able to word my thoughts properly. Those are definitely skills I’ve learned, but the list could go on forever.”

Although he did not state when, Musa did state he had plans to possibly run for the position again in the future. 

Elected board of directors for 2019-20 are Ty Thomas, Saloni Sharma, Julia Pereira, Devyn Kelly, Sameed Hussain, Stephanie Higgs, Thomas Hamilton, Andrew Dang, Karneet Chahal, Owen Bourrie, Feisal Borjas and Osman Alwi.

Hussain and Alwi were both acclaimed, as they were the only two Brantford candidates. 

Karneet Chahal was elected into senate, while Mitchell Bergin was elected as the representative for board of governors. 

Owen Bourrie, the current vice-chair of the board and director-elect for the 2019-2020 board of directors, had some difficulty containing his excitement amongst the festivities, noting the importance of those who voted for him.  

“I’m thankful for all the support we’ve had from all my friends and honestly, I’ve never been so grateful for a bigger support group than I have,” Bourrie said. 

For Bourrie, the continuous support his friends and others offered him during the election season was one of his biggest takeaways. The future, for Bourrie, is clear.

“[My] plans now are to implement the two pillars of my platform as vice-chair, so just go in and implement that platform as best I can, hopefully with the support of the board,” Bourrie said.

The Students’ Union has given him a number of opportunities — a boon that he will endeavour to repay in the coming months. 

“The Students’ Union has provided me and my friends so many opportunities. What I want to do is continue building on the experiences the Students’ Union has given me and keep going,” Bourrie said.

Ty Thomas received the highest percentage of votes in the Students’ Union election for his position on the board of directors. 

“I’m really excited. I know I wasn’t at the open forums because of conflicting reasons [and] I’m really excited to represent the entire student body,” Thomas said. 

“I really want to enhance the Laurier experience; it’s not a tagline, it’s reality — and I want so much for everyone to feel great here.” 

In his platform, Thomas focused most of his attention on the student experience at Laurier. As he currently is a don in residence life, he wants to help students transition into upper years and still feel like they are a part of the Laurier community.

“I just really want to have continued support, from every student here, I know a big part of my platform is the fact that students, once they leave residence, they really aren’t getting connected with the Laurier community — and I want to change that for sure,” Thomas said. 

“I want them to be informed in what’s going on. I’m also going to vouch for them, part of my platform was that I want to hear other students’ ideas and work with them.”

As for working with newly elected president Hakim, Thomas thinks the future looks bright for the Students’ Union. 

“Zemar and I are both Dons; so I’ve known Zemar for a bit now, excellent guy. I’m excited to sit down and talk with him and see what we can do with the student body,” Thomas said.

Devyn Kelly, who was elected for a position on the 2019-2020 Board of Directors, could not express her excitement enough.

“This is the most unreal experience I’ve ever had in my life … thank you very much, Laurier, for upping the voter turnout,” Kelly said.

“I think this year is one that the Students’ Union is going to remember.”

With files from Safina Husein, Editor-in-Chief; Hayley McGolderick, News Editor; Aaron Hagey, News Editor; Margaret Russell, Lead Reporter. 

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