On the surface, Shakiba Azimi and Fahim Rahman look like they’re running the same campaign for VP (Academic). They both want to support mental health, reduce costs through various initiatives and increase accessibility. It’s the same platform we see year after year for this position.
They’re even both ISSS executives, something Rahman isn’t afraid to talk about. He puts all of his experience front and centre, before any major campaign points. Once you read Rahman’s detailed platform, there isn’t much to actually talk about, so it becomes clear why he’s focusing attention on his other jobs.
What sets Azibi’s platform apart is the specific technological goals she outlines. While Rahman lists a few basic platform points like advocacy and exploring initiatives, Azibi actually details some initiatives that she hopes to accomplish, with many of them focusing on using the internet. The SU often feels behind when it comes to online resources, so these sort of initiatives really catch my eye.
One of these is improving Beartracks with more course transparency. She proposes having syllabi ready and posted on Beartracks before classes begin, which would let students see what their courses will entail before joining them. This would prevent a lot of the confusion with adding and dropping courses at the start of the semester.
Seeing midterm and due dates would also let students plan ahead in case they need to go away, whether it’s a vacation, or a conference for professional or academic development. You don’t have to go searching through the calendar to find out what the course is actually about, and you can see differences within the same course when multiple profs teach it. I like it and I hope it’s possible.
I’d urge caution with her plan for a Centralized University Mental Support Health Website, though. While a modern, interactive site that helps students find specific in-person support services isn’t a bad idea, creating a Web MD-like attempt to replace professional health services is. It can come off as dismissive and might lead students to misdiagnose their actual issues.
Azimi also has a broken mess of a website, with missing images and placeholder text. I had to scroll through her Facebook page to even find her platform, which is on a slideshow PDF. But while the presentation is awful, her specific technological proposals to solve the points she makes in her platform make her stand out from Rahman.
The fact that Azimi is able to lay out a few specific plans and explain them in detail shows she has already thought about it. With Rahman, I’m not sure because he falls back to typical SU election catchphrases. Azimi is clearly the better choice.