An End-of-term Message from your 2019-20 UWSA VP Student Affair, Noelle Sagher
For the past year, I have worked alongside UWSA staff and students, day in and day out. But mostly importantly, I have been an Executive Director with Meagan Malcolm and Mahlet Cuff. For the past 11 months, Meagan and Mahlet have been my crutches and my breath of fresh air. They have been the backs upon which I stand, the comforting voices in the office after the door slams, the laughter in the late hours of the evening which I hold so dearly in my heart, and the feet that make so much noise when we’re out at Portage and Main, holding hands, standing with our brothers, sisters, and siblings. To Meagan and Mahlet, I owe you everything I have learned about patience, about resiliency, about power, and about love.
I am thankful to be a part of the first ever all women of colour Executive at the UWSA, a title never came lightly. It allowed us to care for Black, Indigenous, Students of Colour in ways that honoured the BIPoC Executives before us and the amazing work they laid down for us. Their victories and ideas continued on with our term, and I’m grateful to those that took the time to help us within our roles – including friends that are close to our hearts.
In my role as VPSA, I was able to sit on many university committees to ensure students were accounted for in policies, academic advocacy, services, and finances. This meant continuous bargaining, and letting the university know about students’ concerns, including security on campus, awards and bursaries for those who need them most, and the need for a more accessible post-secondary education. Though our voices were not always heard, our efforts were not meaningless; we have seen many changes within the University’s procedures, and we hope our words echo for years to come.
I was able to sit on the Senate Academic Appeals Committee, where I worked with wonderful academic advisors to ensure students are given the accommodations they need, and helped turn the tide on academic appeals and mental health, advocating for students who deserve a second shot at University and to be accommodated. Sitting on this Committee every single Tuesday morning was rewarding in more ways than one, and I leave knowing that students are well taken care of.
Throughout my role at the UWSA, the fight for the U-Pass stands out as one of the most important events of my career here. Through constant tabling, advocacy, meetings with staff and those at the City, countless City hall meetings and speeches, we were able to save the U-Pass. This means affordable transportation for students at the University of Winnipeg, and I couldn’t have done it without my staff and teammates.
Though there are many things I’d love to highlight about this role, advocacy for students stands as the most important, enriching, and monumental. I met with well over 100 students requiring academic advocacy, whether it was to file appeals, attend Senate and Departmental Review Committees with them, talk about their case of academic misconduct, tell me about the systemic inequalities they are facing at the University, or just a shoulder to cry on, and I wouldn’t have traded this for anything. One of the most important parts of this job was meeting with students, and doing everything you can to help alleviate their moments of stress. This will always be a part of this job that I hold near and dear to my heart.
Student organizing, protests, and rallies are an important way to show solidarity with marginalized students across campus, and I hope UWSA Executives take that to heart for years to come. From Portage and Main, to the Hive, to the Carlton Graduate Student Unions’ Lounge, the most valuable information and knowledge I have gained has come from grassroots organizers who double as students. The time I have spent with these people goes beyond my role at the UWSA and will continue for years to come; the learning is never done.
Through my work at the UWSA, I was elected as the Women’s Representative on the National Executive of the Canadian Federation of Students, where I will continue my work alongside my family, Meagan Malcolm (Circle of First Nations, Métis and Inuit Rep on the National Executive), and Mahlet Cuff (Queer Rep on the Provincial Executive). I am thankful for this role, and the community it allows me to build, as well as provide an avenue to continue the work I care about on a National level. I had an amazing year the UWSA, and am thankful for all the opportunities it has given me; but I am most thankful for Mahlet and Meagan. The work is never done, but when we do it together, we can go farther.
Noelle Sagher | صقر نوال
2019/20 Vice-President External Affairs
University of Winnipeg Students’ Association