Team BPN encourages student advocacy in ComSoc contested election

Candidates ask Commerce students to “make some noise”

Team BPN is running in the Smith Commerce Society (ComSoc) executive election.
Credit: 
Supplied.

Team BPN is encouraging student advocacy ahead of the contested Smith Commerce Society (ComSoc) executive election.

Team BPN consists of Presidential candidate Omar Baboolal, Comm ’22, Vice-Presidential (Student Affairs) candidate Finn Price, Comm ‘22, and Vice-Presidential (Operations) candidate Tara Matin-Nejad, Comm ’22.

“Your voice as a student is powerful,” Baboolal told The Journal. “Student voice is the key to change.”

At the heart of team BPN’s campaign is their slogan ‘Make some noise,’ which encourages students to use their voice and advocate for change at ComSoc.

“As an institution, Smith could use more activist voices,” Baboolal said. “We really want to empower students and give them a voice.”

Team BPN acknowledged that student engagement and activism is essential to execute the changes they want to make at ComSoc.

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“I don’t think that change is possible without student voice,” Matin-Nejad said. “I think that students can really start being that catalyst and pushing for change and change will follow suit.”

The team cited Instagram account ‘Stolen by Smith’ and the Reform Smith initiative as an inspiration behind their slogan.

“Stolen by Smith is a real testament to the power students have that we don’t know we have,” Baboolal said.

“I’ve seen both sides of the coin,” he said. “As a racialized person, I’ve had fantastic experiences in Commerce but also very difficult, hard experiences […] Let’s point out the bad, let’s make noise about that, let’s be activists, let’s call out what’s wrong and come together and work together to make it better.”

Team BPN is also advocating for increased access to wellness counselling for students—specifically BIPOC counsellors to help students cope with racial trauma.

Baboolal said being advocates requires them to welcome the input of different faculties to be able to challenge cultural norms within the Commerce program. 

“We’re aware how Commerce might have blind spots in what we’re taught in terms of the pedagogy,” Baboolal said. “Having students from other faculties would really position us to actualize on ComSoc’s advocacy potential.”

Price stressed the importance of transparency within administration to “hold them accountable to the initiatives they claim to be pursuing.”

“We want to advocate to admin about having more transparency around their EDII initiatives,” he said. “There are things they are doing that we simply don’t know about or the student body isn’t aware of.” 

Team BPN said the lack of support and inclusivity for international students has recently been brought to ComSoc’s attention through the newly launched Instagram account ‘International At Queen’s.’

They said they commend international students for advocating for themselves and making some noise about how they’ve been wronged by the University.

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“I’m really happy you guys have that Instagram account and are making your voice heard,” Baboolal said.

“We want to increase international student presence and voice within the ComSoc community,” he said. “Not only just giving them space, but giving them a chance to represent and advocate for themselves.”

Team BPN wants to create a culture change within the program by ensuring equal opportunity and creating transparent criteria for awards that would allow clubs and students to have tangible goals.

“There’s still this problem that persists of nepotism,” Price said. “Although this is a really hard issue to rid ourselves of, we want to minimize the bias and try to ensure these equitable hiring outcomes.”

“Culture comes from the top down. If you exhibit that at the top, you can have that trickle down throughout the whole faculty. I want to create a culture where people feel comfortable reaching out to others, feel comfortable in their school, and enjoy their time at Smith.”

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