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DSU presidential candidate: Mariam Knakriah

Mariam Knakriah is a candidate for Dalhousie Student Union president. Knakriah is pursuing a double major in environmental science as well as environment, sustainability and society.

Two students — Knakriah and Owen Connolly — are running for the position.

The below snippets of the Gazette’s interview with Knakriah are edited for clarity and grammar.

What makes you a good candidate for DSU President?

Well, I’m running because I see Dal, or I have a vision for Dal to be better. 

We always say, you know, it’s by students and for students, but we don’t always see that in practice. And so even under my elections campaign page, I always said that I want to work with my actions, not my words. I think from the experience I have, over the past few years, I’ve gotten a lot of experience in leadership, communication, engagement, and such. I was a senior sustainability ambassador back in the United Arab Emirates, where I live. And that gave me so much leadership [experience] that I think I can use now, like the DSU, in order to actually give the students what they want. I’m here to actually help the students. I have so many projects that would even let me get closer to the students, engage with them to hear them and then, you know, support them with their needs.

What are your goals if you become DSU president?

The DSU lacks engagement a lot. Although it has really good resources, when you ask a student about the DSU, they don’t really know that there are societies, they don’t know there are services and resources. 

So, one of the plans I’m hoping to work on is to have a [community] board somewhere in the DSU and online to share the projects the DSU is working on with the students. And by putting the project information [online], I really want to be as transparent as possible with students to show them that even if I haven’t started working on this project you want me to work on, you know that I’m still working for the students and nothing else. I’m not using my position for reputation only. I’m actually using it to help you.

Another really important one is foot washing basins. As a Muslim, I pray, and there are a lot of Muslims and also religious people from different religions who follow washing before praying. It’s been very hard on campus because we don’t have any place for this. And usually, students have to go to normal sinks and bathrooms, which is very unhygienic. It’s good to mention that the food bank was actually supposed to be a prayer room and they haven’t already installed foot-washing basins. So my project, hopefully, will be to install more and then maintain the prayer rooms we have right now.

What are you offering as a presidential candidate that your opponent isn’t offering?

I want to be as transparent as possible with students. Of course, I do believe that the tuition increase is a very big huge problem that students are facing. But it’s really important to mention too, that it’s not that easy to deal with, especially after COVID-19 hit. My opponent [Owen Connolly] was always talking about tuition. But as real as what I want to be, I said that while I’m working on such stuff to decrease our tuition, I think we should work on the more important stuff, like giving more bursaries and providing more awards to international students; [the bursaries] are very specific to the point that a student would probably be eligible for one or two.

And then obviously, as a person from a marginalized group, I do want to emphasize making our campus more diverse and have this engagement with all people from all different backgrounds as much as possible. And I think coming from a marginalized group myself would allow me to understand them more, and to actually open my door for them, hear them. And let them know that I’ve been through this, but here I am.

Cover photo: Dalhousie Student Union

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