Board keeps it together through five departures
As the new Student Association (SA) board of directors gears up for the start of school, two themes keep coming up; family and politics.
“I’m totally the mom,” said Tiffany White, director of education at the SA, which funds The Dialog. “A lot of our board members are 19, 20, or early 20s and I’m in my late 20s and already have kids so it’s like I’ve just slid into that role of being the one who takes care of everybody. But I enjoy it so it’s good.”
White, who is in the second year of a practical nursing program, is a mother two children ages five and eight. White said that she has been working hard since getting acclaimed to make sure that everyone on the board feels included.
Brittney DaCosta is the SA’s director of campus life. She is also in the marketing program at George Brown and was an SA events staff member last year.
“Neil Cumberbatch, was my supervisor as an events squad member. We have a lot of similar views on the way we like things done so I think it was easier for me to be the director of campus life because I established those relationships in the beginning,” said DaCosta.
Rajai Refai is the director of equity and a student in the construction and engineering program. This is his first year on the SA board but he’s been interested in politics since high-school after protesting when a female student there was sexually harassed.
“I went and talked to her and realized it was a huge issue and said “why isn’t anyone doing anything?'” recalled Refai who said after they got the attention of the principal he was hooked on activism.
The SA’s board is taking a more activist role this year releasing a statements in solidarity with communities affected by the Pulse Nightclub shootings in Orlando.The SA also supported Black Lives Matter Toronto’s protest at the Pride parade where the group temporarily stopped the parade and demanded changes to how Pride Toronto works with black and South Asian queer communities at Pride as well as a demand that there no longer be police floats or booths.
“Some individuals weren’t comfortable with posting the solidarity statement because they weren’t comfortable with the idea of removing police involvement,” White said. “It was a little bit iffy, but overall the statement was very welcome and it was very accepted.”
Since the spring elections, five SA board members have vacated their positions, including the director of communications and internal. The women and trans people representative position remains unclaimed from last year.
“I decided to step down from my role as Waterfront campus director because I felt like it was a perfect time for me to go,” said Gagan Deep who resigned on May 1, the day that the new board took office.
“I felt like this was a time where I should be more focused and prepared for my upcoming obstacles of my career life and become successful in that too,” wrote Deep in an email to The Dialog.
Byelections to fill the vacated positions are tentatively scheduled to begin at the end of September, with the voting period slated for Oct. 14 to 21.
White is looking at the upcoming byelections as a good opportunity for the board. “When we have the byelections maybe we needed those people to step back and resign from their positions,” she said. “Maybe we needed them to open up the space for people who haven’t had that chance.”
There is sense that the SA board is a family at the moment and the board members want to keep that positive vibe with people who run in the byelections.
“We’re very accepting of you are as a person first before we get into your position and I think that opens the door better for communication,” said Refai. “If a new person comes in we want to make them feel like part of the family. ”
Gemeda Beker, the SA’s director of operations, was not available for an interview.