ResSoc candidates compete for presidential position

Candidates hope to establish community, promote equity during remote learning

Roshael Chellappah and Jared Fernyc are competing for the position. 

Two candidates are on the ballot for next year’s Residence Society President: Jared Fernyc and Roshael Chellappah.

Fernyc, Sci ’23, held a volunteer position for ResSoc and is a current staff member in residence. 

He hopes to implement professional and interpersonal skill programs should he be elected, allowing students to excel beyond first-year residence into the professional world.  

Direct accountability with the student community is another pillar of his platform, and he pointed to open town hall meetings as spaces to discuss social initiatives promoting Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Indigeneity (EDII). 

“I have heard a lot of student concern that residence and student leaders are not accessible to the community,” Fernyc told The Journal. 

Fernyc also detailed a commitment to increasing support for student leaders, explaining that the pandemic has resulted in incoming student leaders looking for more clear and consistent communication from professional staff. 

An additional pillar of Fernyc’s proposal includes an eight-month-long professional speaker series, featuring University professionals like faculty members, researchers, and industry professionals.

Regarding recent calls to action for justice and solidarity with marginalized communities, Ferync referenced the ResSoc flag hanging initiative and proposed an increase in cultural nights and a broadened resident network supporting student diversity. 

“One of the most powerful tools we have in promoting diversity for supporting BIPOC students is an open dialogue. Firstly, having conversations with students addressing concerns within power to creating tangible goals to achieve them.”

The past year has shed light on much-needed support for the student community, according to Fernyc. He’d like to expand the mentorship program established in 2019-20 by creating a peer support network.  

“Many students feel isolated and unheard in pandemic conditions. Trying to connect and unite students will create a singular voice to advocate for change,” Fernyc said.

 “We need to recreate a sense of community intrinsic to Queen’s residence.”

Fernyc expressed a hope to become involved with as many facets of the Queen’s community as possible, increase the visibility of the organization, and provide an opportunity to enact change.  

“I chose to run because I see it as an opportunity to create significant change. My don in first year was an incredible mentor who believed that residence could be a place to provide lifelong lessons and friendships,” Fernyc said.

“This year has shifted these values out of focus, and my year will give me the space to reintroduce programs and initiatives to give us enough of the positive attributes back as we can before returning to a full capacity year.” 

Chellappah, ArtSci ’22, presently occupies the position of Socials Coordinator for the Biology Department Student Council and Co-President of the Queen’s Tamil Students’ Association (QTSA). 

Chellappah’s key platform pillars include advocacy, support, and transparency. 

“[One of the] main roles of President is to act as a representative of the student body, accurately identify and convey interests to the AMS and Senate to ensure positive experience,” she told The Journal.  

According to Chellappah, the pandemic has increased the amount of support students need academically, financially, and emotionally.

“Mental health is a prevalent issue right now, and we need to take into account what programs and opportunities are needed to support the transition to university, and facilitate the shift to post-academic life.” 

Regarding transparency, she stressed the need for increased disclosure of financial statements to students, as well as yearly reports detailing the particulars of ResSoc positions and responsibilities. 

“[This will ensure] students have a better understanding of how to access and learn about programs and supports, and forms will provide immediate student feedback to ensure a positive resident experience.”  

She said one of the main challenges cited by students in residence is the inability to connect with peers in the same program while studying remotely. Chellappah would like to tailor residence communities to students within the same program, allowing for peer support within the same household. 

Looking at the year ahead, Chellappah said students need time to create connections and friendships, and she hopes to expand on current ResSoc initiatives to create academic and professional-based programs. She proposed broadening the mentorship program to connect students with senior residence and faculty members.

Chellappah also proposed increased collaboration with other student organizations on campus, allowing networking with industry professionals and promoting career development.

Regarding the recent call to action for justice and solidarity with marginalized communities, Chellappah emphasized the diversity of student experience and noted that not every EDII action plan will accommodate the needs of every student. 

“As a first-year student, moving into residence as a young brown female from an area with a lot more people like me, [Queen’s] was an environmental and cultural change,” Chellappah said. 

She pointed to increased support for local Indigenous businesses and partnership with Four Directions, as well as standing in solidarity with the Chown Hall Indigenous Living and Learning community, to help students feel supported and welcomed.

 “What is needed is increased student feedback. They are the ones that we are representing, [we need to ask] what ResSoc can do to make the experience at Queen’s better.” Chellappah said. “Cultural groups foster community and create family away from family”. 

 “We want to foster an environment where students can become the best they can be, and ultimately succeed. I hope to create a community of support in my term as President.” 

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