Frank Ye, 4th Year, Interdisciplinary Medical Sciences, running for President.
Jared Forman, 4th Year, International Relations, running for Vice President.
Photo from Team ForYe
Meet Frank Ye and Jaren Forman, two fourth-year students making up one of the slates running in the upcoming University Student’s Council election. Lifelong friends, Ye and Forman met in the eighth grade, attending high school and then university together. The pair realized that they had similar goals when they ran for and were elected as USC councilors in second year. As USC councilors, they worked on the implementation of gender-neutral washrooms in the UCC and worked with the Women’s Issues Network (now the Gender Equality Network) to implement sexual violence training for USC councilors. This year, the pair are Science Student’s Council President and Social Science Student’s Council President, respectively.
“[As a result of our experience], we saw the power that students had when they were given the resources of the USC,” Ye notes. He recognizes this as a motivating factor in their decision to run.
Ye and Forman feel that what sets them apart from the other slate running is the plan they developed in light of recent announcements by the Ontario government. The Ontario government announced on January 17 that they intend to cut OSAP funding and make ancillary feels that support student governments, such as the USC, optional. Ye and Forman revised the platform they originally published because they felt like many of the promises they made in it, such as expanding mental health crisis counseling, would not be realistic or feasible in the upcoming year should these changes go through. They cite research they’ve done into how student governments have survived similar situations and felt it was their responsibility to have a plan in place.
One of their ideas in response to the Ontario government’s proposed changes is an online calculator where students will be able to calculate how much money they will save by opting in or out of ancillary fees. The main idea underlying this is transparency, Ye says, wanting students to realize how much money they can save by opting-in and all of the services that their ancillary fees support. From research they have done on other student councils, including Western Law’s Law Society, they have seen that being transparent with students is a policy that works, and by showing students where their money is going, they can encourage students to continue to opt-in.
As an all-male state, Ye and Forman acknowledge that their experience is not typical of everyone and that there are systemic barriers that prevent groups, such as women and people of colour, from running in elections. They plan to use a community-based approach to advocate for these groups and empower other communities to become more involved in the USC. Common feedback they’ve gotten from these groups is that they don’t see the USC fighting for them. If elected, Ye and Forman are committed to empowering women and people of colour and fighting for the issues that are important to them and want to make sure that their efforts are meaningful and will benefit all members of the Western community.
Prior to the Ontario government’s announcement, Ye and Forman viewed mental health and wellness as a top priority if elected. Now, their plans have changed. “If we can’t get platform pillar one right, we won’t have a USC to use to bring about changes in other areas,” Ye explains. If elected, they will make sure that they have a plan they can use to protect students’ interests.
Ye emphasizes how unprecedented and unlike any other election this is in light of recent announcements. “Never before has there been an election where it’s not a question of which slate will win, but it’s a question of ‘will there be a USC?’” Ye says. If elected, Ye and Forman plan to work with the government and other groups to minimize costs and negative effects for students and believe their plan is the one that will serve students best.
“This is not the year to gamble on the USC and the services they offer. This is not the year to vote against experience and gamble on something new,” Ye says. “[We] need to make sure the USC remains so that Western student experience can remain.”
More information on Team ForYe’s platform can be found on their website here.
Vote in the USC elections on February 4th and 5th here!
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