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The Candidates

Scroll down to meet the candidates running for the UVSS Board of Directors.

Lead Directors

Campaigns & Community Relations

Cleo Philp (they/she)

Hi, I’m Cleo! Right now, far too many students are experiencing food and housing insecurity, struggling to pay rent, and dealing with a university that doesn’t prioritize their needs or safety. We can do better. I am running for Campaign Director because students deserve a strong voice representing them. As a student who has experienced, and watched others go through these challenges, I am committed to making real change. To do this, I will prioritize the following:


Affordability is one of my top priorities for UVic students. To improve affordability, I would:

·        Work with the university to improve funding for the food bank on campus, and help fund food security clubs and programs in order to address food insecurity.

·        Lobby the provincial and municipal governments to tie rent increase limits to units instead of leases. This would significantly slow down the rent hikes we have all been struggling with.


It is important to me that the UVSS serves students. Because of this, I will ensure that students’ voices are reflected in my work as a Director by:

·        Opening more avenues for students to provide feedback on the issues that matter to us. This will include running semesterly town halls, as well as frequent polls, surveys, and tabling.

·        Pushing the University to make necessary changes based on the feedback provided by students.

·        Fighting for the demands of the Access4All campaign to improve access to education, especially for students with disabilities. 


Finally, 1 in 3 UVic students experience sexualized violence during their degree. Survivors are underserved by this university. This must change. I will:

·        Advocate to expand, clarify and improve the scope of UVic’s Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy during its review in 2024.

·        Pressure the provincial government to amend the Sexual Violence and Misconduct Policy Act to require minimum standards of care for university sexualized violence policies.

·        Strengthen the Let’s Get Consensual campaign to advocate for more effective support services, as well as bringing awareness to what supports are already available for students. 

I hope to earn your vote, and look forward to working with you to make UVic a more inclusive community for us all.

Kirti Rath (she/her)

I believe tenancy rights is an important tissue and there needs to be more action on it. Promoting awareness of tenancy rights is vital to ensure that tenants understand their legal rights and obligations and can advocate for themselves. Some ways that I plan to promote the same are:

1. Providing educational material like handbooks, guides, and online resources. This will help tenants understand their rights and responsibilities and provide guidance on how to navigate common issues.
2. Conduct workshops and webinars that will cover a range of topics, such as lease agreements, rent increases, repairs, eviction proceedings, etc.
3. Collaborate with community organizations such as neighborhood associations and community centers to help reach a broader audience.
4. Engage with policymakers in advocating for stronger tenant protections.

I will also investigate more on affordable housing. It’s a major issue as many students struggle to afford housing while pursuing their education. I will do the following to help students find better living conditions within a budget range:

1. Research affordable housing programs that offer subsidies, grants, or other financial assistance to help cover the cost of rent or utilities. 
2. Explore the concept of micro-units that have lower rent and utility than larger apartments or houses.
3. Check for student discounts by contacting local housing authorities, non-profit organizations, or government agencies.

Another such subject which I will be working towards is on-campus jobs and financial aid. It can be an important source of support for students. By exploring on-campus job opportunities, researching financial aid options, exploring private student loan options, and developing a budget and financial plan, I can help students better manage their expenses and achieve their academic and career goals as well as help find the right resources and advocate for more such opportunities.

Finance & Operations

Khushi Wadhwa (she/her)

Hi! My name is khushi wadhwa and I’m a 4th year undergrad student at uvic. My platform is mental health and providing students with the right resources and support. I understand how difficult it can get while you’re trying to balance academics, a social life and a job as well! 

I believe that my experience with working with undergrad clubs at uvic will help me have a better understanding of how I can help my peers and uvss reach their potential. 

I also intend on working on undergraduate uvss fee and finding new opportunities for students in the SUB. 

Outreach & University Relations

Matthew Allen Curtis (he/him/they/them)

Hello! I am a second-year Software Engineering student involved with the Engineering Student Society as a Director at Large and the Director of Outreach. As a Director at Large, I organized a group of 14 volunteers and worked with the council to run a charity event (Siege Week and Order of Pi). As Director of Outreach, I have talked to future UVic students about UVic Engineering culture and planned an Outreach event for the next Director of Outreach.

I am running because I want to share the success the Engineering Student Society has recently had in engagement and make the UVSS governance more approachable.  Here are some of the things I want to work on:

  • Adopt the Recommendations of the Governance Review, making the board more focused on governing and less focused on operations.
  • Hire an IT person to improve the UVSS digital systems.
  • Develop policies/procedures to help bridge the skill gap present during general meetings.

Focusing on these steps will increase engagement with the UVSS and better represent the student body and our challenges. Here are some of the things I aim to provide to students if elected:

  • Funding for a Makerspace, providing the student body with access to tools, equipment, and resources to help them bring their ideas to life.
  • A fixed time for General meetings to allow students to plan to attend well in advance.
  • A student-focused co-op program, more in line with other universities.
  • Increased communications and transparency by hosting town hall meetings and posting meeting highlights to social media to keep everyone informed.

Lane O’Hara Cooke

My name is Lane and I am seeking re-election as a UVSS Lead Director. Over the past two years, I have had the privilege of serving as your UVSS Director of Finance and Operations, the UVSS Advocacy Representative for the Gender Empowerment Centre, an Anti-Violence Project support volunteer, and a Munchie Bar barista. These experiences have given me valuable insight into the UVSS on structural and interpersonal levels, the good, the bad, and the ugly. 

Some of the critical issues our student union faces are the struggle to connect with everyday students, a strained relationship with the university, and policy gaps that inhibit good service and accountability processes. These issues are far-reaching but ultimately fall under the responsibility of the Director of Outreach and University Relations.

I have dedicated my formative years to progressive politics, rooted in the belief that our community is not free until we all are and that promoting goodness, care, and courage is a shared responsibility. 

If elected, I commit to the following goals:

– Lobby the university to substantially include food security and affordability initiatives in their upcoming budget and strategic vision. 

– Collaborate with the university in the creation of daily rotating hot lunch events throughout campus to feed hungry students and community members. 

– Prioritize expanding the UVSS “bubble” by breaking down barriers of inclusivity and equity as well as launching an outreach plan to educate about how the UVSS operates, what services it provides, and how to read, navigate, and change policy. 

– Create an interactive Board that can be easily communicated to and is responsive to changing student needs.  

– Dismantle cycles of toxicity and bullying in student politics and the UVSS workplace culture. 

– Advocate for fair wages for student workers in the SUB during upcoming collective bargaining with the United Steelworkers union.

– Demand for survivor-centred and trauma-informed practices in UVic’s Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Policy during its review in 2024.

Student Affairs

Emily Lam (she/her)

Hi, my name is Emily! I am a 3rd year nursing student in the Faculty of Human and Social Development. Having balance between our successful studies and healthy well-being is my core value. That is why I am honoured to be a candidate to represent you as the Director of Student Affairs. 

Over the past years, I have met so many unique people virtually and in-person through the student society. Being involved in student clubs has helped me realize the importance of having a community that feels safe, accepting and fosters a sense of belonging. A community built by interpersonal relationships and the desire to uplift each other. 

During my time as a Campus Representative at Camosun College, I have gained first-hand experience managing various clubs, overseeing the events committee as well as being involved in student life. I realized how challenging it is to build relationships with peers, especially during the start of a new semester and coming out of our virtual world (post pandemic). It is important to be connected to our student body and faculties, as it is the first step in breaking the ice and cultivating a welcoming environment for everyone on campus.

I wish to contribute my talent to serve you, support academic success, and create an encompassing student society. That way, we can create an open and inclusive campus to sustain our physical and mental health, while succeeding in our studies. Thank you!


International Student Relations

Sarah Buchanan (she/her)

It’s been lovely getting to work as a DaL. I’ve met so many wonderful people, and did some things I’m really proud of. I’d like to keep that ball rolling, and work full-time as Director of Events this year!
This past year, you might have seen me tabling, serving hot lunch, or flipping pancakes. In addition to working events, I also represented us to Victoria’s city council as part of a city-wide push for better housing policy. Lately, I’ve been getting to know the internal structure of the UVSS as part of the personnel committee. Naturally, if I’m elected I’ll be continuing this kind of work.
But I’m really excited to take on events because I have some big ideas for what I could do with that portfolio. I’m going to take a page from the current lead’s book and continue with lots of chill, small scale affairs — puppy playtimes, hot lunches, clothing swaps, and the like. In addition to these, I’d like the SUB to host one big party in the fall and spring semesters.
Vertigo recently got a liquor license for the first time in nearly 20 years, which I plan to take advantage of. For the fall semester, I hope to transform the SUB for hallowe’en — a week of decorations, pumpkin carving, costume making, and community. And the centerpiece of the week, a costume party in Vertigo!
For the spring semester, I was blown away by our advocacy group’s work on Sexpo. I’d like to let them lead the charge, and use my resources to support them however I can to make Sexpo even better in 2024.
I’m looking forward to putting these plans into action, if I get this role. I hope you all are as excited as I am to see them through!

Nico Caparas (he/him)

Hey UVic! My name is Nico. I am a first-year international student from Manila, Philippines, majoring in Computer Science.

This is my first year living in Canada, and leaving home and my family and friends to study in a new and unfamiliar environment was not easy, to say the least. On top of this, other factors such as expensive tuition and housing, a more rigorous academic workload, high expectations, and language and cultural barriers add on to the already immense pressures international students are experiencing.

I was very fortunate to have a very supportive and welcoming residence and group of friends who helped me adjust to Canadian culture, university life, and dorm life. Through this, I became open to different perspectives and opinions about the world and met the most amazing people from all kinds of backgrounds. They made me feel at home, even though home is halfway across the world. In the same way, I want to recreate this sense of community and belongingness for all the international students at Uvic. Appropriately, I have these three main foundations to build upon: 

– Strengthen relations within the international student community by fostering an open and welcoming environment
– Encourage collaboration and promote cultural awareness and diversity 
– Expand mentorship and volunteer programs 
– Build stronger connections for work opportunities

– Advocate for cheaper tuition fees, the availability of housing, and reasonable meal plans 
– More scholarship and financial aid opportunities for international students 

– Provide effortless access to necessary resources and a support system made up of people who have similar backgrounds 
– Readily available mental health services
– Tackle issues regarding language barriers and cultural misunderstandings

Overall, I am delighted to be running for the position of Director of International Student Relations at the UVSS, and I look forward to your support! 

Adam Choi (he/him)

Current incumbent Director of International Student relations. I focused on assisting students with searching for rental accommodations and networking between on and off campus resources for international students. Same as last year, I will be donating all salaries back to the International Student budget so that students get the full benefit of resources allocated for international students. 


Natalya Sochan (she/her)

Hi, my name’s Natalya. I want to be the UVSS Director-at-Large and I’ll reveal why in a bit.

I’m a first-year student studying science, here at UVic. During the fruitful time that I’ve been here, I’ve fallen in love with the community, campus and the overall energy. I’ve gained so much and learned so many enriching lessons. 

Now, I want to give back. 

I would be so grateful to be a part of the UVSS community because I want to prove that I can make an impact, really help the Student Union flourish. That means I will directly put my efforts towards helping all of you. I am determined and advocate for myself and others to help bring harmony and peace to any space.

A little secret is that I’ve been working on these skills for some time now. Part of that journey has been joining UVic Men’s Rowing as a female coxswain. Basically, I’m put in a boat with eight dudes, and give commands to create one fluid, moving vessel. I’m trained to be adaptable and find potential.

Creating the best out of any situation is my talent and I want to give that to you as your Director-at-Large.

Liam Peta (he/him)

“Inconsistency and lack of clarity. Lack of accountability. Lack of awareness.” These are the three key issues with the UVSS, as determined and reported by the 2023 Governance Review. These issues prevent the numerous needs of students from being heard and met, especially those regarding food security. My name is Liam Peta, and, if elected, I will work not only to reform the UVSS, but to address student food insecurity. I have three priorities:

1. Restructure unprofitable UVSS-run businesses and reallocate funds to address student food insecurity

2. Increase the transparency of the UVSS’s Board of Directors and their activities

3. See to it that the UVSS actually listens to and works for students, and delivers on their needs

In short, if elected, I seek to promote a culture of learning and collaboration among students and the UVSS Board of Directors—where everyone is encouraged to share their ideas and perspectives—so that students can trust that the UVSS honestly listens to, represents, and works for them.

Thank you for your consideration, and I hope to earn your vote. Please feel free to reach out with questions, comments, or suggestions at 

Alisa Atanackovic (she/her)

Hello, everyone! My name is Alisa Atanackovic (She/Her), and I’m running for Director-At-Large. I’m currently in my third year doing a Major in Hispanic Studies with a Minor in Public Administration. Originally, I’m from Serbia, but I have also lived in Spain, and I’m now a guest on the Lekwungen territory. Other than English, I can also speak Serbian, Spanish, French, Catalan, a little bit of German, and can say some things in Italian! Also, I am currently a Global Community Mentor, and Vikes Nation Ambassador.  

Here are the things that I plan on doing:

– Listen to the voices of students: conduct a survey at the beginning of summer, fall, and spring terms that asks students about the issues that concern them the most, how the UVSS can best support them, as well as what they would like the UVSS to do.
– Increase mental health support on campus: Work on implementing a walk-in counselling clinic, and decrease waiting time for an appointment with a counsellor at the Student Wellness Centre.  

– Tackle food insecurity: increase the number of free hot lunches per term, as well as make food on campus more affordable.
– Advocate for affordable housing.

Faculty Representatives

Riya Shekharbhai Parekh (she/her)
Director of Social Sciences Student Relations

Hello, I am Riya Shekharbhai Parekh, a 3rd-year student pursuing a combined major in Psychology and Computer Science in the Faculty of Social Sciences at UVic. I am running for Director of Social Sciences Student Relations with the goal of creating a positive impact on our department.

My primary goal is to increase awareness of the many programs available in the Faculty of Social Sciences, such as coastal studies, financial mathematics, economics, and various combinations of majors and minors. I strongly believe that increasing the knowledge about such
programs among our students can prove to be highly beneficial and aid them in finding their true calling.

I want to make students aware of co-op opportunities and help them find jobs in their fields. I believe practical experience is essential, and co-op is an excellent way to gain it. I intend to help students find these opportunities and assist in finding jobs outside of the co-op program too.

I am a firm believer that every student’s opinion matters. That is why I intend to address concerns, comments, and questions for each and every student. Creating an environment where students feel comfortable to approach me with their issues or feedback is crucial. This
will help me better understand the needs and wants of our students, and I can work towards fulfilling them.

Finally, inclusivity is essential to me. I am here for and by all. I believe that everyone should feel welcome and valued, regardless of their background or beliefs. I want to promote inclusivity and diversity within our department. I will work towards creating a welcoming and accepting
environments for all students, where they can feel free to express themselves without any hesitation.

Overall, I am excited to have the opportunity to serve our students and make their experiences even better.

Between March 23 – March 27, vote Riya Shekharbhai Parekh for Director of Social Sciences Student Relations

Keegan Waklee (she/her)
Director of Humanities Student Relations

The best part about going to high school in the US was arguably the opportunities to get involved. All four years I was active in leadership classes, class office, and the several month long endeavour called homecoming season. What I learned most through all of this was how much I enjoyed being able to see the effect of all of my hard work. 
The best part about going to university in Victoria is also the opportunity to get involved. The past almost 3 years at this school I have been appreciative of all of the different outreach activities, and this year I have finally decided to attempt to peek behind the curtain. With this position I hope to be able to not only learn more about how influential the UVSS is in student outreach, but also meet new people like myself. 
As the Director of Humanities Student Relations I shall ensure that not only are Humanities students fairly represented within larger campus events, but also have more faculty-based enrichment events. With options like in person book clubs, online book clubs, and themed outings to the James Joyce Cafe, I hope to foster a more community focussed last year for myself and many others!

WITHDRAWN Max Thomson (he/him)
Director of Science Student Relations

This candidate has withdrawn from consideration.

Hello friends! My name is Max and I’m running to be your Director of Science Student Relations. I’m a third year student pursuing a biology degree, and for the next year I hope to be pursuing your interests by advocating for science students. These are meaningful changes that we can make to the UVSS and SUB that would hugely benefit current and future students:

Review the businesses we operate in the SUB, with a goal of either achieving profitability or properly reorganizing them as at-cost services.

Find space and resources for practical amenities that we otherwise lack on campus, like a small, cheap grocery store (like Cap’s before it was demolished) and the long sought after makerspace.

Implement many of the recommendations from the Governance Review. Namely, reduce the number of board members in favour of fewer, better paid positions. We have 18 elected directors, most of whom are poorly compensated and very part time; that is not how we run a functional student union

The UVSS needs directors with realistic, practical, responsible goals, who are in it out of a sense of duty to their fellow students; and I think I can be that for us.

Kate van Oort (she/her)
Director of Science Student Relations

My name is Kate van Oort and I’m a third year Physics and Computer Science student. I am committed to making my community a better place and believe that I could make a difference if elected as a Director-at-Large. If elected I have three main issues I would like to focus on: Student Engagement, Bus Scheduling, Food Prices.

– Student Engagement: Increase student engagement! There are 19’000 of y’all on campus and I would like to find some way to reach more people and let you know about the opportunities you’re paying for on campus. Like free popcorn, coffee, and election stuff!
– Bus Scheduling: Lobby for more late night bus schedules coming to and from UVic
– Food Prices: Lower the cost of food on campus, or at the very least provide more affordable options, particularly to those on the UVic meal plan. 

The UVSS exists to represent the undergraduate student body and, with your help, I would love to have the chance to work on these issues!

Tim Al-Saudi (he/him)
Director of Engineering and Computer Science Student Relations

I am a second-year software engineering student affiliated with the Engineering Student Society. I believe that the UVSS communicates poorly, lacks sufficient transparency, and advocates ineffectively for student needs. If elected as the ECS student representative, I plan to help the ESS and UVSS collaborate on projects and events that are not only beneficial for engineering students but also for the general student population. These plans include creating a makerspace, organizing more relevant and engaging events at various times to allow students with different schedules to attend, and scheduling crucial meetings such as the SAGM at better times to allow students with busy schedules or on co-op to attend. Additionally, I hope to advocate for student issues such as course accessibility, affordable food options on campus, and the breakdown of stigma across different student populations.

Tarek Alakkad (he/him)
Director of Engineering and Computer Science Student Relations

My name is Tarek Alakkad, and I am running for the position of Faculty Director for Engineering and Computer Science at the UVSS. As an international student from Syria, I understand the challenges that come with studying abroad, especially when it comes to financial difficulties. Therefore, I am committed to advocating for the importance of providing financial aid and scholarship for bright international students. 

I am passionate about promoting hands-on learning experiences for engineering and computer science students. By organizing more hackathons and coding competitions, and promoting collaborative projects, we can provide more opportunities for students in the faculty to apply their theoretical knowledge to real-world problems. This will not only enhance the student experience but also provide a gateway for more funding for all students. 

In addition to these initiatives, I will also work towards addressing student concerns regarding housing. This issue affects many students, especially those who are new to Victoria, and I believe that as a Faculty Director, I can make a significant impact in addressing this challenge. I will work with the university administration and local housing providers to explore ways to provide affordable and safe housing options for students.

As an international student, I understand the importance of creating a welcoming and inclusive environment for all students. If elected, I promise to be a strong voice for our faculty and work tirelessly to address student concerns. I will collaborate with other members of the Student Society to ensure that we are all working towards a common goal of enhancing the student experience.

Lastly, I want to reiterate my commitment to advocating for financial aid and scholarships for bright international students, as I believe that education should be accessible to everyone, regardless of their financial background.

Thank you for considering me as your Faculty Director for Engineering and Computer Science. I am excited to have the opportunity to serve our community and make a positive difference in the lives of our fellow students.

Naomi Tran (she/they)
Director of Fine Arts Student Relations

Hey everyone! My name is Naomi, and I am first year student. I am majoring in Visual Arts and Computer Science (combined major).  

I grew up in the unceded and traditional territories of the Wet’suwet’en territories, also known colonially known as Smithers BC. My passion for art stems from my love for creating since I was a child. I have been drawing for long as I can remember. My involvement in UVSS began when I applied for a graphics assistant position in the start of the fall. With my long passion for art and institutional knowledge, I hope to use my experiences in representing my faculty with their upmost best interest in mind.  

Increase General Representation 
-Improving communication channels 
-Establishing a clear and effective communication channel between students, faculty, and the administration  
-Ensure that student voices are heard  

Advocate for More Funding 
-Ensure that students have access to the resources they need to excel in their studies.  
-Access to high-quality facilities and equipment  

Encourage Student Involvement 
-Build a sense of community and foster a passion for the arts 
-Coordinate art related events that allow students to connect with one another  

I would be honoured to represent you as your faculty of fine arts director.  
Thank you so much! 

Kelly Weiling Zou (she/her)
Director of Law Student Relations

As a current law student, I am familiar with the opportunities and challenges facing our community. After three years in student government at Queen’s University, I know how to leverage the resources of academic institutions to support the wellness, academic development, and sense of community of students. Understanding that the most effective vehicles of change must be led by the individuals impacted, I always take a community-centered, bottom-up approach in addressing the needs of my peers.  

If elected, my platform will focus on three main pillars: Improved financial accessibility, meaningful supports for marginalized students, and further diversity in academic and career opportunities. 

Prioritizing academic obligations requires that students receive adequate financial support and can afford the necessities of life, tuition, familial obligations, and more. I will work to increase non-merit based financial aid opportunities, improve affordable on-campus dining and living options, increased insurance benefits, and provide educational opportunities on the financial resources available for returning learners, students with dependents, and students with medical conditions and disabilities. 

Across Canada, marginalized students’ law school experiences have been fraught with experiences of discrimination systemically and by individuals within the system. I believe that administrators and professors should be held accountable for regularly improving their ability to support marginalized students through ongoing learning. In doing so, I hope to increase the accessibility of education and displace the educational labour placed on marginalized students.  

University of Victoria’s law program attracts a more diverse class than most law schools across Canada. As such, I believe that the educational, career, and community-involvement opportunities should reflect the needs of our students. I will advocate for increased funding for equity-related campus organizations, as well as diversity in partner organizations and educational opportunities. 

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