Candidate advocates for sustainability, LGBTQ+ representation and mental health resources
Following interim ASFA president Julia Sutera Sardo’s announcement that she will not be running for re-election, Concordia student Jonathan Roy has stepped into the spotlight.
As VP internal and councillor of the Concordia Classics Student Association (CCSA), VP of finance of NDP Concordia and member of the Concordia Senate, Roy is heavily involved in student politics at Concordia. On Monday, Nov. 13, he announced his candidacy for the ASFA presidency.
His posters, plastered on the university’s walls, feature his campaign slogan: “Empowered together.”
“You can’t just leave the decisions of an organization to a single individual. They need to be worked through by a collective,” Roy said. “I’m doing this because I want to support the rest of the executives. I want to support all of our associations. I want to support our students. This isn’t about me.”
This sentiment is echoed in his platform of empowering the member associations (MAs) and ASFA executives to fulfill their mandates. Roy has proposed moving away from the traditional, hierarchical order of the executive.
“Yes, I’m running for the presidency but, in my mind, the spirit of that office is that of a general coordinator,” Roy said.
Roy’s other campaign promises include making ASFA more sustainable, increasing LGBTQ+ representation in student governments and a complete collaboration with Concordia’s mental health services.
In terms of environmental sustainability, Roy plans to put a compost bin in every MA lounge, if elected, and plans to continue his work with Waste Not Want Not, Concordia’s composting campaign.
As a gay man, Roy said he is all too familiar with the lack of LGBTQ+ representation in politics—especially in Concordia’s student associations. He said he plans to take concrete steps toward solving this issue.
“I want to propose setting a specific spot on ASFA’s advocacy committee aside for a representative of Queer Concordia to be a voice on behalf of our community,” Roy said. ASFA’s sustainability committee already holds a designated spot for a representative from Sustainable Concordia, which has been an extremely positive experience, according to Roy.
As for working with Concordia’s mental health services, Roy said this collaboration is deeply important to him. After suffering from severe depression and attempting suicide five years ago, he said helping people through mental illness is especially important to him.
“I was at the lowest point in my life,” Roy said. “I’m always candid about my mental health issues because it’s important to talk about it. That’s how we end the stigma around it.”
Having used the services himself, Roy said he hopes to further relations with the Concordia chapter of jack.org—a national mental health network—and ensure Concordia’s psychological services are better advertised, if elected. Roy plans to push for more open dialogue about mental health within the university so students and their academics suffer less.
“People don’t deserve to feel the way that I’ve felt, and I want to try to help them,” Roy said.
While Roy said he feels confident in his ability to win the election, he is not running unopposed. Jad-Faraj Abi Semaan told The Concordian he is also in the running for the position. Semaan is a political science student at Concordia. He said that, if elected, he plans to strengthen the relationship between ASFA and the MAs by improving communication and establishing a plan of action which will allow MAs to reach their full potential.
“In a world polarized more than ever, […] we need platforms that bring people together,” Semaan said. “I will make it a personal priority to give an equal voice to students from all backgrounds, religious affiliations and ethnicities, such as the LGBTQ+ community, Muslim students and students with disabilities.” Semaan also said he wants to ensure the ASFA community is loving, accepting and respectful.
According to Roy, Semaan has had no previous involvement with ASFA, apart from acting as a polling clerk for the association last year. However, Semaan told The Concordian he would “be more than happy to have a constructive conversation with [Roy] at any point during this campaign and put to bed all his concerns about [his] legitimacy.”
Overall, Roy said his priority throughout the campaign and, if elected, his presidency, will be to empower the student body as a whole.
“The way I see governance, especially student governance, is not about catering to the needs of one person. It’s about coming together to work to help everyone,” Roy said. “That’s something that I’m a huge proponent of and something that would be reflected in the work I would do as president.”
Feature photo by Alex Hutchins