COMPSA 2018 elections see only one contested position

Candidates discuss their platforms and prior experience with The Journal

Presidential candidate Max Keleher
By Nicole Langfield

This year, only one of three executive Computing Student’s Association (COMPSA) positions will be contested in a race of all second-year students.

The Journal met with the four candidates running to hear about their platforms, prior leadership experience and visions for the future of COMPSA.


Max Keleher believes his wealth of experience within computer science has provided him with a unique understanding of issues facing his fellow students. 

It’s for this reason that Keleher, CompSci ’20, thinks he would make a good president. Running unopposed, it was the confidence he had in his skills and commitment to improving Computer Science Student Association (COMPSA) that motivated him towards his decision.

“I think being a member of council this year, seeing a couple of things rub me the wrong way, I got to a point where I was like ‘you know, I can sit here and think that it’s being done differently than I would like, or I can go and make the change I want to see,’” he said.

Being on COMPSA for the past two years – most recently as the Professional Development Director – has given Keleher a good understanding of where he wants to see change in the society. His first step will be increasing the COMPSA student fee, which he believes is too low for the association to provide meaningful services.

“It’s kind of in an uncanny valley where you’re paying $15 and you don’t always feel like you get your $15 worth,” Keleher said.

Despite his firm belief that increasing the fee would be a good first step, he recognizes student concerns.

“I understand that a lot of students might be skeptical because, the thing about computing is that since you’re a member of ASUS and computing you have to pay both student fees,” he said.

With a goal of a $10 increase, computing students would be paying a total of $50 in faculty fees. 

In addition to increasing the student fee, Keleher wants to rework the current structure and mandates of the director positions on COMPSA council.

“I know as Professional Development Director, there are a couple tweaks that could be made. [This change], would involve talking with other people and seeing what could be moved around,” Keleher said.

Keleher’s plans would have broad implications, but they aren’t unrealistic. Reality is something he prioritizes.

“I think being realistic about what you want to do is really important.”

Vice-President (University Affairs)

In the only contested race of the 2018 COMPSA Executive elections, Roberto Ruiz and Niyousha Saeidi, are running for Vice-President (University Affairs).

In a race of similarities, — they’re both CompSci ’20 — Ruiz and Saeidi have each been involved with COMPSA since their first year at Queen’s. Ruiz served as the first-year representative to COMPSA last year and is currently the second-year representative.

Saeidi was a first-year intern last year and currently serves as the Social Coordinator for COMPSA. In addition to her position at COMPSA, Saeidi is involved in many other activities on campus. She’s the Editor-in-Chief for the ASUS Data Journal, an orientation chair for CompSci Orientation Week, a workshop developer for the Software Developers club and a coordinator for the not-for-profit organization Pseudolabs.

In an interview with The Journal, Saeidi placed a lot of emphasis on her experience. She said her extra-curricular activities helped her to gain a deeper understanding of Queen’s.

“I found that being in COMPSA was not enough to get to know other people in different faculties because our faculty is so small and everyone is really tight. To broaden my horizons, I decided to work for ASUS, ResSoc and be on a team,” Saeidi said.

In terms of their goals if elected, Ruiz wants to prioritize increasing exposure of COMPSA to Computing students.

“As it stands, I feel like there could be more attention from the students in our own faculty, as to what COMPSA is doing,” Ruiz said.

Ruiz also wants to bring back the first-year COMPSA internship program, which was discontinued this year. The program allowed first year students to intern for COMPSA executives, familiarizing them with governance positions within their faculty.

Similarly to Ruiz, Saeidi wants to increase COMPSA exposure. Unlike Ruiz, she’s more focused on intra-faculty exposure. She wants to “develop our faculty and to grow in Queen’s and in terms of it’s relation to other faculties.”

She believes it’s important to increase the connection and representation of COMPSA at other organizations, such as ASUS and the AMS. 

Saeidi is excited to take advantage of the many opportunities available at Queen’s and believes her involvement in multiple clubs and organizations increases her connection with the student population.

Vice-President (Operations)

Jessica Dassanayake is vying to be this year’s Computing Students’ Association Vice-President (Operations) in an uncontested race for the executive.

Dassanayake is a second-year computer science student with two years of experience in COMPSA under her belt. Serving as the association’s Marketing Director this year, Dassanayake is committed to improving access to COMPSA for first-year students.

One of her key platform points is to bring back COMPSA’s internship program. The program provided first year students an opportunity to get involved in their faculty society government by interning for an executive member of COMPSA.

“I found it to be a really vital part of getting involved in student government at Queen’s and so I want to bring that back and give more opportunities to first year students,” Dassanayake said.

Dassanayake also wants to reinstate the COMPSA Web Services Program, also known as Qmulus. This program provides computing students with opportunities related to their desired field of work, as well as providing a service to the Queen’s community.

“It got put on pause this year, so I want to rebrand and bring that back for the coming year,” she said.

In addition to reinstating old programs, Dassanayake wants to restructure the way volunteer positions function under commissioners. After a major year of restructuring for COMPSA, a lot more volunteers were brought in comparison to previous years. Dassanayake wants to tighten up the structure and clarify under which commission or director volunteers fall to ensure that avenues of communication remain clear and open.

While the position of Vice-President (Operations) is no small role to take on, Dassanayake is up to the task. She’s excited to combine her two years of experience to improve COMPSA.

“The last couple years I’ve been able to see, especially through the operations side, what works and what doesn’t work, since both years have been very different. I just want to contribute my part,” she said.

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