Candidate Profiles: two candidates compete for Undergraduate Trustee

Candidates outline commitments to student engagement, EDII initiatives, health and safety protocols

Jaya Sharma is one of the candidates running for the position.

Jaya Sharma, BHSc ’24, and Seyon Shelvachandren, Nurs ’24, are competing for the position of Undergraduate Trustee in this year’s election. 

Jaya Sharma

Sharma is as a first-year intern to the AMS President. 

“Through this position, I’ve been able to learn a lot about how the student government is structured, as well as what issues students are trying to get addressed,” Sharma told The Journal.

Sharma’s four platform pillars include continued learning, accessibility, representation and engagement, which she expressed through the acronym C.A.R.E.

She said she’s committed to student outreach, providing opportunities to share concerns, and self-educating on Board of Trustees history of decisions and policy.  

Addressing EDII initiatives, Sharma said she’d voice all student concerns and not take group support for granted while valuing communication between student groups and leaders in the community and facilitating shared decision-making processes. 

“One thing I will be emphasizing throughout my campaign is that the student population is my biggest resource as to how I will plan to get things implemented. I would be remiss if I didn’t capitalize on all the work that has been done to help these changes come about,” Sharma said. 

“I am a BIPOC student myself, but within this position you really have to make sure you are the full perspective of these students within our community. There’s a lot of us and we all have different experiences in Queen’s […] The way I will represent these marginalized communities is just by using the student population as my greatest resource.” 

Regarding mental health, Sharma said the pandemic has shown students are having a difficult time accessing mental health supports. 

“Improving and completely reforming the Queen’s Student Wellness system will inherently help students who are learning remotely, even when we go back to in-person [learning],” Sharma said. 

Sharma said she’d look at the Queen’s Backing Action on Climate Change (QBACC) petition, acknowledging the timely nature of the club’s mental health reform proposal. 

“This issue has been around for a while [and] has only been compounded by the pandemic.”

The potential for partial in-person learning next year presents many issues over the upcoming year, according to Sharma, particularly regarding the need for students to follow masking and distancing protocol. 

“That’s one thing, helping to facilitate that cultural attitude towards taking [COVID-19] seriously.”

Sharma emphasized the importance of equal access to quality education for students online and on-campus, including mental health services and available office hours. 

“The main thing that excites me about this role is the idea of student advocacy and being able to represent students and actually making changes to address their needs […] I really take this position seriously, and with this position comes a tremendous ability and responsibility to make positive change for students.”

Seyon Shelvachandren

Prior to running for Undergraduate Trustee, Shelvachandren worked as Global Health Director of the Nursing Science Society.

“I like working in a team, talking to people, negotiating—I like getting things done,” Shelvachandren told The Journal. “[It is] a euphoric feeling I get when I am a part of something, doing something for the entire community, beyond myself.” 

Shelvachandren’s key pillars include mental health, health and safety, academics and affordability, student life, diversity and inclusion, transparency and accountability, sustainability, and initiatives for student engagement. 

He plans to deliver comprehensive mental health support for Queen’s students by implementing a 48-hour mental health day once per semester, as well as the option to reweigh an assessment to the culminating examination. 

“Currently the policy is to take 48 hours off for illness or compassionate reasons […] I think this needs to be expanded on,” Shelvachandren said, referencing the current practice of granting academic consideration for extenuating circumstances. “With everything going on, mental health is a bit of a grey area and there’s no way to cover everything with just an ‘acute illness’ or compassionate reasons.” 

“With COVID-19, transitioning learning online, all of a sudden [after] students spent their whole lives in traditional learning, can affect mental health in many ways. I [would take] this policy from other universities and Queen’s and give it an upgrade, [at] no cost for the University.” 

Regarding health and safety, Shelvachandren described a plan to maximize and prioritize the count of period products on campus, as well as make some contraceptives free for all students. 

“I want to take into consideration people’s affordability and such; everyone deserves to have a comfortable experience here regardless of their financial status,” Shelvachandren said. 

Shelvachandren has a goal of cutting tuition for undergraduate students, both domestic and international, citing the tuition cut for Queens’ international PhD students reflecting the potential for making this accommodation for all students.

“At the end of the day, it’s not just PhD students in the situation of online learning, you’re getting a different product then what you paid for, and I think everyone deserves a tuition cut,” Shelvachandren said. 

He also proposed increasing the number of scholarships and awards granted to students who reflect dedication and contribution to the school, academics, and a display of character values. 

Shelvachandren aimed to appoint a volunteer Trustees’ Council of representatives from diverse student backgrounds. 

“It’s important to acknowledge there is only one position for Undergraduate Trustee. In reality, not one person can reflect all diverse perspectives and opinions.” 

All final editorial decisions are made by the Editor(s)-in-Chief and/or the Managing Editor. Authors should not be contacted, targeted, or harassed under any circumstances. If you have any grievances with this article, please direct your comments to

When commenting, be considerate and respectful of writers and fellow commenters. Try to stay on topic. Spam and comments that are hateful or discriminatory will be deleted. Our full commenting policy can be read here.