CFS elects new national chairperson

Sofia Descalzi says improving experiences at colleges is a priority

A new chairperson was elected to the national office of the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS) during its 37th National General Meeting on Nov. 16 to 19.

Sofia Descalzi, the current chair of the CFS-Newfoundland and Labrador, defeated Arnel Fleurant, the director of education at the Student Association of George Brown College and Leila Moumouni-Tchouassi from the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa.

Descalzi is the first international and Latina student to be elected to the post of national chairperson for the CFS. She said it is both an honour and humbling.

Descalzi has been the leading the provincial office of CFS-Newfoundland and Labrador for the past year and a half.

During this time, advocating for improved access to education through reducing and eliminating hefty tuition, particularly for international students, has been her main focus.

“It is just answering to the needs of the province, so as my position next year in the national context will be answering the needs of the country as a whole,” Descalzi said.

“Making sure that we are supporting our member locals, for example, our colleges, seeing how we can work together to make sure that the students’ experiences and access to education through colleges are good,” she said is her focus as she takes on the post.

As for Fleurant, he is determined to continue the work he began after taking on the role of college and institutions representative at the CFS last year.

He aims to improve services particularly directed towards college, international, and Indigenous students.

“I would see more campaigns geared to college students, which is why I currently hold my position and I hope that I could develop those campaigns and bring it to George Brown College,” said Fleurant.

He noted that the CFS has a history of supporting university students, who they represent more of than college students.

“I feel like CFS could put themselves in a position where our member locals could provide international students with a fair health plan through the CFS,” he added.

He was also looking to recruit colleges in the north which have large Indigenous populations.

“I felt like more Indigenous involvement, more Indigenous students could benefit from the CFS services,” he said.

Also new to the national office is Mary Askemoe, treasurer of CFS-Ontario who was voted in as the national deputy chair. Trina James retains her post as treasurer.

These positions will be ratified at the next national meeting set for June 2019.

The CFS is the largest and oldest student organization in Canada, representing over post-secondary 500,000 students.

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CFS elects new national chairperson