All-female SAMRU executive council elected for first time in a decade
by Bryce Visser
The votes have been cast, the ballots counted and the results announced in the 2011-12 Students’ Association of Mount Royal University’s elections.
This year’s executive election saw an all-female council elected. It was the institute’s second all-female executive, following the 1998 SAMRC council, which was said to be the only other time it has happened.
In the end, Meghan Melnyk beat Kyle MacQuarrie in the presidency race — 481 to 362 votes.
“I am thrilled,” Melnyk said after the results were announced. “I went into this knowing that there was only a 50/50 chance of me being elected with two candidates.
“So much of a campaign is talking to people, but when there are 12,000 students, it gets really difficult. I tried to talk to as many students as possible and tell them what I was for, but honestly in the end it was in the hands of the electorate.”
In total, 967 students voted in the election, which ran between Jan. 31 and Feb. 9. The turnout amounted to 7.95 per cent of the potential electorate of 12,157 voters, according to the Students’ Association. The turnout is slightly lower than last year’s 8.27 per cent.
Regarding what Mount Royal students can expect from her administration, Melnyk reiterated her campaign platform of advocating for better transportation in and around MRU. She said transit and parking are the top issues that she will be fighting for.
Also elected was Kaylene McTavish, who won the position of VP student life, receiving 583 votes to Raman Basi’s 302.
“I am ecstatic about the position and challenges it will have,” McTavish said. “I know I can make a difference here on this campus and I think the students saw that.”
McTavish added: “I want to dive into this role head first, from day one I want to be a soundboard for them. That’s what the students voted for, and I’m not going to let them down.”
Runner-up Basi said she is focusing on school for now, but that she wasn’t planning on going away. “We’ll see what happens next semester,” she said.
Jennifer Langille and Michelle Dennis will serve as VP academic and VP external, respectively. Both women won their uncontested positions with 725 votes each.
“I think this will be a really good executive,” Langille said. “Thank you everyone who voted, we will make you proud.”
Dennis said: “I look forward to getting to know these women — these really intelligent, exciting women who are good at their craft and passionate about serving students. I’m looking forward to building this team and all that we’re going to do. Get ready, because here we come.”
Also elected Wednesday night were the members of the students’ council. The closest race of the election was for the position of science and technology faculty representative, which was won by Arielle Muriel with 431 votes to incumbent Shiv MacFarlane’s 348 votes.
“Thank you, thank you all for getting out and voting,” Muriel said. “Only 967 people voted and that is a minority, a distinct minority.”
Other representatives elected to the council were Serena Navarro for the arts faculty, Danish Haider for the business and entrepreneurial studies faculty, Lexie Courtney for the communication studies faculty, Gary Verma for health and community studies faculty and Diane Ngyuen as women students’ representative.
Regarding MRU’s first all-female council since 1998, Melnyk said: “I think it is indicative of our changing populous in the city and at MRU. There is a large majority of females at MRU. I also think that because three-quarters of our last executive committee were women that is an image people saw. Who knows, though — next year could see an all-male committee. I’m happy with who was elected, regardless of gender. We are all really passionate.”
“I think it’s wonderful,” said Muriel. “It really shows a shift in women being interested in changing their infrastructure and their organization and also in the constituency being willing to take charge of their own leadership and choose based on merit rather than comfort and gender.”
Several positions on the council were not filled in the election including the representatives for the conservatory and continuing education; immigrant, international and minority students; Aboriginal students; and students with disabilities. These four positions will be appointed in the fall semester by the students’ council according to the SAMRU constitution.