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HomeNewsDSU vice-president (finance and operations) candidate: Mohab Brisha

DSU vice-president (finance and operations) candidate: Mohab Brisha

Editor’s note: This interview was edited for length and clarity. 

Why are you running for this position? 

Well, I’m running for this position because I believe I can make a difference in this position. I believe that using this position I can better represent the students, actually represent the students. I feel like that is not something that has been done well so far. I do recognize there have been some valiant efforts that have been spoken of, but not much real action yet. There’s a lot of indication we still have a long way to go in that area.  

I believe I’m a very good fit for that specific goal. I really believe I’m able to communicate with as many different people as possible. I have a lot of engagement with societies at Dalhousie University. I have a lot of information about how everything generally works. And my background as well, as an international student I’ve lived in an area with so many different cultures, so many different backgrounds. And we just learn to get along. I feel like that’s taught me a lot about how to bring everyone equally forward. 

What do you think the biggest issue affecting students on campus is at the moment? 

I feel like right now, I would say it’s definitely the fee rise for Dalhousie. I think that’s completely absurd that Dalhousie would increase the fees in this situation. I genuinely cannot, you know how sometimes things seem irrational from your point of view? I pride myself in usually being able to see the other side. Even if I disagree with it, I usually am able to pick up what their side is thinking. I can be like, “OK, I understand you, but I think otherwise.” This is not one of those times. This really isn’t one of those times at all. I just genuinely can’t see any reasonable justification for this. So yeah, I think that’s definitely the biggest problem right now. 

How would you approach that issue in your position? 

The problem is that it is a Dalhousie issue. I’m not going to lie. This is not what I ran for. At the time I entered the race, this was not the biggest issue. There were other issues I was considering that were more relevant to the position I’m running for. But as a completely general question, this is definitely the biggest issue. I don’t claim to have a plan to run with it, and I don’t think anyone else can claim to have a solid plan to deal with this.  

But I do believe that if the DSU had better communication, a better connection with the student body, we may have been able to bring about change. Unfortunately, I don’t see it happening. Mainly because the student union has very little influence at this point with the students. It’s a big problem. It’s our job as the leaders of the student union, or the future leaders of the student union, to rally the students behind a cause that is affecting every single one of us. That, in my opinion, is the main core of the job. 

One main student complaint about the DSU is students don’t know what the DSU does with their membership fees. If you were the vice-president (finance and operations), what would you do to help students better understand where their money is going and how the DSU spends its money? 

That point has definitely bothered me in the past. I don’t get to choose whether or not I sign up with the DSU. I don’t get to choose, if I don’t like what they’re doing, to say I’m not going pay you anymore. 

What I would try to do to make the problem much, much better [is] the communication part. That’s my main priority, if we can be able to engage the students throughout the entire decision-making process, then they will be able to understand it. They will be able to relate to it more. For example, if students want more Sexton campus engagement, they want the DSU to care more about the Sexton campus or the Truro campus, they’ll be able to see it on the budget the Truro campus support increased compared to last year’s budget, for example.  

At the same time, accountability is very important as well, and that comes hand in hand with transparency, with communication, with the students feeling that they are part of this union.  

On your candidate profile you mention some varied accounting experience, from managing finances for your family to more professional settings. Can you talk about how both would translate to the position? How do you think the skills you’ve gained accounting for your family would be able to help you in this role? 

Basically, with my experience with my family, I’m the one who manages financial affairs. Generally, my parents don’t really take to it as well as I do. So, I’ve been taking care of the books for almost five years now. We have accounts here in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) — I’m currently living in the UAE right now — and we also have accounts in Egypt. I also take care of those, make sure those are in order, make sure there are no discrepancies. 

I also have some very light, I would say, experience with some volunteering opportunities where I had to draw up a budget for an event. 

I think the most important thing I’ve learned from these experiences is responsibility. If something goes wrong with these accounts, this is someone’s life. This is literally our money here. We need to be very careful with it. I think that’s the biggest thing you learn when managing any kind of financial aspect of anything, just the sheer responsibility of it. It’s a massive responsibility and that’s the main thing I’ve learned. I’ve also learned a few basic skills with Excel. I don’t really do all the fancy stuff with specialized software and websites. I just do mostly Excel. So, I’m not the most experienced there, but I feel like it’s a very good starting point. 

Is there any positive thing you think the DSU did this year for students? 

Even though I criticized the DSU last year when I was running in the 2020 elections, I make it a point to always stay on their side until massive errors have been made. It’s a very exceptional year. I honestly have no idea how anyone could have handled being in that position of responsibility, or how I could have done better. It’s really, really hard to put yourself in their shoes when they’re faced with a situation that’s completely unprecedented, such as the situation that happened.  

Is there any issue the DSU could have dealt with better this year? If so, how would you have dealt with it? 

I genuinely don’t want to criticize them just for this year. Pass for me for this year. 

What’s the most fun you’ve had on a screen this year?  

I guess maybe a group call with friends. Sometimes we just get on a group call and just talk, then maybe we decide to play a video game and stuff like that. 

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