Daiyam Basharat is an international student studying international development studies and sustainability. He’s running for the Dalhousie Student Union’s vice-president (internal) position.
Two students — Basharat and Tammy Maniou — are running for the position.
The below snippets of the Gazette’s interview with Basharat are edited for clarity and grammar.
What makes you a good candidate for vice-president (internal)?
I think that’s a great question, mainly because I’m running because of the experience I had running the [Dalhousie and King’s College] debate society. I’ve seen that society struggle for the past two or three years and this year, we were finally able to recover. We won three Atlantic-wide competitions and placed 11th in the national competition. And we’ll do a lot better [going forward]. I think given the experience that I had running the debate society, I wanted to make sure that other societies never go through [the trouble] we did.
What are your goals if you become VPI?
I think the VPI position is not just about dealing with societies or sitting on separate committees and funds. That’s only one part of our job. The other thing is advocacy.
So first, in terms of societies, the one thing that’s really important to me is that societies get the recognition that they deserve within the Dalhousie community, especially for the work they do. Recognition is something I believe is really important in terms of student societies, the execs and everybody else for how hard they work.
The other thing is improving the mental health and wellness of the people who run these societies. This is really important because when I started off the [debate] club, there were only three people on my executive when it should have been six. So, one of us was doing twice as much work as necessary.
Catering to [my executive’s] mental health and wellness looked like me sending them an email every other week being like, “How are you doing? What kind of issues are you facing? If you ever need to talk to somebody, you know, I’m somebody available.”
Number three, particularly when it comes to societies, is improving the opportunities that are available to students and making students aware of what opportunities are available for them. This is really important because the student union hasn’t reached a quorum in over five or six years. And that’s a big issue, mainly because that shows us students aren’t interested. It’s really important that the student union improves the way they communicate with the rest of the community, especially by making people aware of what other opportunities are available to them and ensuring that they are able to access those opportunities.
So, that also leads me to this other thing, which is really important, which is this idea of equity and inclusivity. I want to make sure that all societies are inclusive and equitable toward students. Specifically, people might have a tough time at the university, mainly because they’re either international students or they belong to a marginalized group.
International students right now at Dal are not doing well. I know people who work five to six jobs just to put food on the table and pay rent. Because despite the fact that whatever has happened in Halifax, there has been little to no support for international students and that is honestly quite sad. I’m an international student myself. So I understand that feeling because I have worked two jobs. That is sort of unfair, in a lot of ways. Because, you know, we work very hard to improve this community, add more diversity and try to be in a better community at the end of the day.
What do you offer to the VPI position your opponent doesn’t bring?
I think it’s experience. The platform I came up with was basically dynamic leadership. Dynamic leadership is really important, mainly because one thing that works for one person doesn’t work for everybody else.
The way that DSU is right now, you’ll find templates for literally anything. But the problem is that the approach is not personalized enough to different clubs and cultures and how they run things. It leads to a problem where the DSU sort of dictates the way they should do stuff. And that doesn’t work well for them. Being dynamic at the end of the day is really important. [Rather], it’s dealing with the issues by asking the key stakeholders within a specific situation what they think would be the best outcome and how they would like to solve this particular problem or crisis.
Cover photo: Dalhousie Student Union