By Gurman Sahota, August 1 2019 —
In an effort to introduce new — or even continuing — students to representatives in the Students’ Union and in the Students’ Legislative Council throughout the spring and summer, the Gauntlet is running the series, ‘Who’s Who in the SU.’ The fifth instalment introduces Sadiya Nazir, vice-president external of the SU. Elected in March 2019, Nazir began her term on May 1, 2019 and will be in the role until the end of April 2020.
The Gauntlet: What do you do in your role?
Sadiya Nazir: As the vice-president external, my role is mostly focused on the greater community outside of campus, and advocating to all three levels of government.
G: Why did you run for vice-president external?
SN: My very first experience with the SU was back in 2015 when I volunteered with ‘Get Out The Vote.’ That was really cool for me to volunteer for a cause that was beyond my field of study at the time — I started off in biology. That sparked my interest in political science, and then I added political science onto my degree. Having that experience with the Faculty of Science representative position, and the cool ways in which we were advocating on behalf of science students to admin, I took that experience and I thought, well, maybe I could expand that out and try to see if we could get more advocacy initiatives going for us.
G: What do you plan to do within your role as VPX?
SN: One of the main things that I want to accomplish this year was to have sort of a leadership position with our Council of Alberta University Students, which is our provincial advocacy group. Having been elected as Chair now, and sort of starting to build those relationships with the Alberta government, I think we can look to things such as the STEP employment program and sort of expanding that out — that’s one of the biggest advocacy things I wanted to bring to the council this year. They’ve been really receptive, and I am just excited to keep that going. Also, with the student refugee board, really making sure that our refugee students know that they’re taken care of, and know that they have a wide team of people at their disposal.
Also, with ‘Get Out The Vote’, because we are in a federal election year, we have a target of 10,000 pledges from students and so similar to our provincial, ‘Get Out The Vote’ campaign last academic year, really focusing on making sure that students know why it’s important to vote. With the vice-president external this year, I’m really excited to explore some workshops that we can hold.
G: For someone who doesn’t know what Students’ Legislative Council is, how would you describe it? And how would you describe what it does?
SN: SLC is the highest governing body within the Students’ Union, and so decisions that come through whether that be anything with a budget, anything with policy, all goes through SLC, which is to the best of our ability, representative of most faculties — we do have some vacancies, and we’re working on filling those. Extensive perspectives come to the table so that when we are making decisions as an organization, we are informed, and faculty representatives have their full autonomy to pursue interests and initiatives that interest them.
G: A year from now, when you are done your role, what do you want to look back on and see?
SN: I think just starting with ‘Get Out The Vote’, definitely trying to hit that 10,000 goal. Also, beyond the workshops and things like that, we do have the opportunity to build new connections with the new government that’s in place — really focusing on that relationship-building piece and making sure that we have those good connections established, so that moving forward for my successors we start off on a really solid foundation.
G: What’s one thing that you’ve learned now that you wish you had learned in the past?
SN: I think I would have hoped to get involved with SLC a little bit earlier on. Because when I did run for science rep, I was already in my fourth year, and so I think not being afraid to put myself out there a little bit earlier on. At the end of the day, you know, everybody starts off somewhere. I think for a lot of students, it is a little bit intimidating, especially if they don’t have experience with the SU and they see their colleagues and say “Oh, I have to run against six other people.” Knowing that there are so many other people in the same boat as me and just really capitalizing on opportunities that were cool.
G: How can students get in contact with you if they need you?
SN: Students are more than welcome to contact me whenever they want, if they have any questions or concerns, especially in terms of anything that they see going on with government right now. My door is always open as well if they’d like to come in.
For more information or to contact the SU vice-president external, send an email at email@example.com.