SAITSA election sees 9 members chosen for board of directors

SAITSA’s incoming board of directors, Shehbaj Singh Chatha, left, Sangram Singh, Ahmad Baker, Varshit Barot, Lance Santiago, Lesi Nwielaghi, Ryan Ng, Nina Fabian, (not pictured, Rey Tacder) on Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Photo by Claire Robichaud/The Press)

Nine members were elected to the SAITSA board of directors earlier this month — with terms running for one year — and the president and vice-president will be announced in early May.

Voting was held over a five-day period in early March and the results were announced to an anxious crowd in the Expo Centre of the Johnson Cobbe building.

“I think for students, the most pressing issue is affordability,” said Ryan Ng, one of the nine elected to the new board.

“As a board, our job is to advocate on behalf of the students to SAIT to keep costs of tuition … low.”

The nine incoming board members include:

  • Shehbaj Singh Chatha
  • Sangram Singh
  • Ahmad Baker
  • Varshit Barot
  • Lance Santiago
  • Lesi Nwielaghi
  • Ryan Ng
  • Nina Fabian
  • Rey Tacder

For more than a century, SAITSA, the student-led non-profit organization, has operated in a variety of areas including student services, activities on and around campus, and programming to meet each students’ individual needs.

The board also acts as an advocate on behalf of students to all levels of governing bodies.

This year’s voter turnout was announced at 13.8 per cent, beating out last year’s numbers of 12.9 per cent.

With many pressing issues at play, each candidate brought their own visions on how they could benefit SAIT if elected. For international students, the cost of tuition and the rising costs of living has been a huge concern on campus.

“Students are already feeling the prices of inflation in housing and food, so I think our job this year is just to keep SAIT honest about the costs of tuition and keep it low.” says Ng.

Ryan Ng, after the announcement of the 2024 board of directors on Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Photo by Claire Robichaud/The Press)

Finding affordable housing for students away on practicums will be another focus.

“We get sent out on two weeks’ notice to a random town in Alberta for four months, working 48-hours a week for free, with no opportunity to work part-time,” said Ng.

When asked what Ng plans to accomplish in his first 30 days, the much-contentious issue of the microwave situation on campus was mentioned, an issue Ng tackled on his campaign posters, saying it would be his first order of business.

“I already talked to facilities management and corporate services about that,” he said.

“So, I already have a plan in mind for getting them. I guess it depends really on how many we get, but I’m pretty confident I can get some microwaves in the first 30 days.”

With SAIT’s minimal number of microwaves in the student dining facilities, wait times were exceeding 15 to 20 minutes per person to reheat food.

“When students have eight-hour class days and only have one hour to eat lunch, you don’t want to be spending a majority of that time waiting in line for a microwave,” said Ng.

For newly elected director Lesi Nwielaghi, her main focuses are tuition support, mental health awareness, and student feedback integration.

“My job basically is we take all the needs of the students up to the SAIT leadership,” she said.

“So, it’s not really in what I plan to do, it’s whatever issues that I get on campus for the next one year. It’ll be my job to advocate for students to get the best they can in grad experience at SAIT.”

When representing more than 20,000 students at SAIT, making yourself accessible is imperative to the success of a director’s term.

“I think I’m quite approachable. I’m a realistic person, and I always think of the positives. I’ve had a lot of life’s challenges, and I don’t think Saitsa or SAIT could say anything new that will make me feel down,” said Nwielaghi. “My energy is going to be up all through my time.”

When asked what she wants to accomplish in her first 30 days, Nwielaghi says understanding her role is one of her top priorities.

“I may have heard a lot about the role, but I really want to know what my job is going to be on the board,” she said.

“I’d also like to do a survey to know exactly what students need. Then I can now know that I can put this in order, according to priority.”

Incoming SAITSA board of directors members Lance Santiago left, and Lesi Nwielaghi receive a gift bag after the 2024 election winners were announced on Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Photo by Claire Robichaud/The Press)
About Claire Robichaud 1 Article
As a news reporting and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Claire Robichaud is working as a writer for The Press in 2024.