EngSoc hopefuls debate rebuilding process after COVID-19

Candidates for Vice-President of Operations and Junior Senator focus on post-pandemic plan

The debate happened Tuesday night on Zoom.
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Candidates for the Engineering Society’s (EngSoc) Vice-President (Operations) and Junior Senator positions went head-to-head in a debate hosted Tuesday night on Zoom.

They answered questions about their platforms, transition strategies, and how they will rise to meet the unique challenges facing EngSoc in the upcoming year. 

Vice-President (Operations)

The candidates addressed questions about their campaigns, transition strategies for when Queen’s resumes in-person learning, provision of services through the pandemic, and sustainability and long-term planning for the future of EngSoc. 

In her opening statement, Salma Ibrahim addressed the need for EngSoc to collaborate with different departments at the University for returning to in-person services “safely, strategically, and conscientiously.” 

She proposed the idea of forming a transition task force of upper-year students and former EngSoc directors to advise new directors on aspects of their positions they may have missed out on during the remote year. 

Ibrahim’s platform is also focused on long-term planning for EngSoc’s services and automating financial transactions through the Bank of EngSoc. Her plan involves working closely with service managers to form and meet goals for the future. 

The pandemic has forced the Bank of EngSoc to function entirely online and provide payments through e-transfer, according to Ibrahim, but she said the system remains inefficient and difficult to use. Ibrahim believes improving it will increase the sustainability and accessibility of the Bank of EngSoc in the long term.

Benjamin Frosst’s platform also hinges on a safe transition back to in-person services, with an emphasis on student mental health, long term planning to eliminate debt and improve the quality of EngSoc services, and automation of processes.

He hopes to reopen spaces like Clark Hall Pub and The Tea Room, and to restart the iCons—a student constable program at the ILC—to extend the hours when students can study there. His goal is to “regain some of that engineering spirit” that he believes has suffered during the pandemic, bolstering student mental health and academic success in the process. 

Regarding how he’ll get new members of EngSoc up to speed on in-person operations, Frosst acknowledged a “knowledge gap” for new members. He’s keen on continuing communication and collaboration with members from the past few years to ensure the gap is bridged.

Junior Senator

The Junior Senator candidates fielded questions about responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, approaching long-term project planning, and uniting the student voices of the senate. 

The pillars of Luka Clancy’s platform are to preserve engineering traditions at Queen’s, better integrate international students into the engineering community, and create an alternative frosh week event for those who missed it this year due to the pandemic. 

Clancy promised to speak out in the Senate for the interests of engineers and to start petitions and protests if they’re not being heard. 

He said all students are ultimately looking for a “fun, healthy, memorable time at Queen’s,” and by working toward that common goal, students will have more power in the Senate. 

If elected, Clancy aims to monitor the public health situation as it develops to meet student needs, allowing engineering traditions to “come back better” after the pandemic. 

Shashank Ojha’s platform emphasizes improving access to student mental health resources, especially during the pandemic, and using cooperative values to improve the function of EngSoc and the Senate. 

Ojha said the goals of different student groups in the Senate will be more aligned than ever after the pandemic, as they face the reopening of in-person services and recovering from feelings of isolation. 

He’d also like to preserve the traditions of the engineering community at Queen’s, as well as introduce new inclusive opportunities.

“At the end of the day,” Ojha said. “We’re all students at Queen’s, we all have pride to be at Queen’s.” 

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