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The Young & Informed: 2024 SRC Candidate Profiles

Written by Vanessa Elley (she/her)

Interviews by Nic George (he/him)

Debate News Team

ALICIA LEMMER

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I am originally from South Africa, but I moved to New Zealand in 2017 where I went to Rangitoto College on the North Shore. Some of my leadership experience includes being Head Girl at Rangitoto, being the youth MP for the East Coast Bays, and balancing the role of Vice-President Academic for the AUTSA with my studies.





What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

Making sure that AUT students get the university experience that they signed up for. I'd like to work towards making university as accessible as possible. As a migrant, my parents don’t contribute to my education, but because they earn over a certain threshold I have no access to student allowance. I think if that threshold were to be increased it would benefit a lot more students, especially in this time of crisis.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I’ve continued to succeed academically during my vice-president role, but if it does get too much I’ll reduce my number of papers to commit enough time to the role of President.


What is your approach to leadership?

I take a very collaborative approach, but I can make decisions when decisions need to be made. I'm very open to listening to all sides and being able to make a decision.


DHRUVA GOPI

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I come from India, from a pretty middle-class background. I have been in leadership roles since I was young. I just refer to myself as the rebel with a cause.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

The main problem is nobody knows what AUTSA is – So the first step is to have AUTSA workshops in place so that regularly we have students coming in and seeing that there is something in place for them. Secondly, there should be a one-year term limit, so new ideas are consistently introduced.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I would pull back from my part time job. My experience with group projects means I will be able to delegate tasks easily and share the work between my team.


What is your approach to leadership?

I don’t think you’re a leader if you tell someone to do something, you're a leader if you show them how to do it by being beside them. Basically, people have to be comfortable to walk up to you and have a chat.



ZOYA MAHMOOD

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I was part of the Upper Harbour Youth Council for five years and in my final year, I was the chairperson. It was a full-time role and it was a volunteer position as well, and through that experience I feel like I could bring a lot to the table. That's why going for president wasn't such a scary thing for me because I've got a lot of experience dealing with councils.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

I think a big, universal thing is finances. Everyone struggles with it as a student especially and being a part of the council we have a say in the fees. A lot of people want cheaper things in general.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

Personally, it's not a big issue for me because I've always had a packed schedule. I'm really good at balancing my time and what matters. They're aware that we're still students so if it does become an issue I'll be able to communicate that and delegate to my Vice-Presidents’ roles. But I'm not really too worried about the actual work of it.


What is your approach to leadership?

I think you’ve got to be open and welcoming. I've been a part of a lot of leadership roles in the past, but I haven't wanted people to feel like I'm above them in any kind of way. As a leader, I just want to make sure that they know that I'm their friend. If they need anything, I got their back.


ALI JOHAR

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I'm a construction manager, so I do quantity surveying and project management and construction. I am also a business mentor and a financial advisor. I was the chairman for the Glendene Community Housing Society in 2021. I have been on the New Zealand Institute of Quantity Surveyors Auckland branch board. I was on a post-grad committee for academics for Massey University in 2019. What do I really bring to the table? Strategy, governance, yes, but leadership. Direction, the ability to see where to take everybody and work with everybody effectively enough to get that together.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

Today's students are not as engaged. How do we empower them? The starting point is currently the way that clubs are set up and the amount of funding they get is minuscule. The business of students should be student-centric rather than being business-centric. I have the experience, I know where and what questions need to be asked, so I'm not going in with my eyes closed.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

If I have to, I'll resign from New Zealand business mentors for the period of two years that I'm a president here. I'm going to be doing two papers next term, one paper the following term, which drops everything down to a very manageable level.


What is your approach to leadership?

Is something right to do in itself? Then do it, pursue it. If you see oppression or abuse at any level, oppose it. At the same time, let's see if there are certain new ideas. And just because they are not conventional, but it's the right thing in itself to do, do it and support it and let it happen.


ASHRIT NAND

RUNNING FOR PRESIDENT


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I joined the student ambassador team in my first year, and I represented SRC last year as well. This year, I'm the President of Out@AUT. In that role, you're part of the student life and you try to balance what they want to see.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

AUTSA’s visibility. AUTSA has so many services on offer, so having students aware of that more than anything would be my goal. I think the clubs and societies space should remain with AUTSA, as opposed to AUT running the clubs and societies space. In terms of the SLA, I would love to see more funding for AUTSA in general.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I would consider cutting down my papers just a little bit, as well as my other leadership roles at the university.


What is your approach to leadership?

I think letting people have the freedom in their own work lets them enjoy it more, and then they just work better at the same time. Especially in an environment like AUT, you want good outcomes, empowering outcomes, engaging outcomes.



TASFIA MAHMOOD

RUNNING FOR VICE-PRESIDENT ACADEMIC


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I've held two positions on the SRC so far: Diversity Affairs Officer last year, and this year I had the privilege of being the business, economics, and law faculty rep. I'm currently with the Mooting Society this year as treasurer and I've also been the business student rep for business overall and the accounting department as well.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

One of them is definitely bringing back a centralised academic assistance program. Personally seeing the disestablishment of the peer mentors program and the correlation that has had with the anxiety levels of students has been very disheartening to see. Being on the ground you can see the level of professionalism and the level of down to earth one to one service that honours students and senior students can really provide to their junior students.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

For me, being a first-year immigrant kid, academics and education has always been a very big part of who I am and a very big pedestal that I've been given. And it's something that I do always think of as a privilege. I think my way of excelling in my own studies is to be able to do other things that allow me to have a break in one way or another while still being an advocate.


What is your approach to leadership?

Leadership isn't necessarily one person taking the lead for me. It's more so one person amongst the crowd who's bringing everyone together for a united purpose. It's not about someone who's at the front, it's more about who's at the back being the driving force and allowing everyone else to succeed wherever they are best placed, and then together being able to achieve a bigger goal.



REGINA TAO

RUNNING FOR VICE-PRESIDENT COMMUNITY


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I am a Communication Studies student, a student ambassador, and an RUOK? advisor, so I'm trained on how to deal with people and the well-being side of everything.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

I think my main priority is making well-being services easier to access for all students. There was a news article a while ago about AUT students in Manukau Campus, Pasifika students, that weren't supported in the law faculty. So I want to ensure that that's easier for them and they know that there's the actual possibility to get help. Fees are actually increasing for student services and a lot of students don't actually know that that's involved in their university fees. So I want to clarify that. Also in general just ensuring that I make inclusive spaces for people to feel welcome into and continue to grow those spaces.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I think just making sure that I have a good schedule and time managing everything that I can. I would prioritise being Vice-President Community as well as my studies but with my time management skills I feel like I'll be able to do that.


What is your approach to leadership?

I have quite an open-minded style to leadership. I'm very open to hearing other people's opinions and I feel like I stand quite neutrally. I'm going to hear you out before I make a decision or anything.



SAMRIDHI GUPTA

RUNNING FOR VICE-PRESIDENT ACADEMIC


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

I have completed a Bachelors of Commerce at the University of Auckland and I'm currently pursuing a Bachelor of Laws here. This year I was the treasurer for the Law Student Society. In my time at UoA I have held the role of class representative for four of my classes, which is basically just the student voice brought to the teacher and to the faculty. This year I've also been a mentor for one of the programs that the Law Student Society ran too, and I was responsible for a mentee.



What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

Just understanding what students want more and less of in the classroom, and being able to bring those issues to the faculty. Academic VP is all about being able to ensure that the students' academic journey is something that they're happy about, something in which they actually learn. To be able to support that through their voice being heard at the very base level, to elect a representative in their own classroom who can talk to the teachers or talk to the faculty on their behalf if they're not comfortable doing so themselves.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I still have quite a bit of time on my hands to be able to actually prioritise this role as well in equal levels to what I will be studying for. In the scenario that I am elected as the Academic VP, I can beautifully balance that in both ways and give both of the roles enough time.


What is your approach to leadership?

For me to be able to understand what the students want and are aiming for is the biggest priority. And to be able to have a collaborative approach with the university. I do know that there are approaches that can be very antagonistic and very hostile, so collaboration is key here.



ANJLI SHINMAR

RUNNING FOR VICE-PRESIDENT COMMUNITY


What is your background? And what experience do you bring to the table?

In school I was in the student leadership council and the science council. I also did other cultural events around school and helped out with international evening and Pasifika evening and all of that. We also did a physics tournament at school, and I was in charge of organising that event.


What are your main goals and the main issues you want to tackle as President?

I think cultural diversity is a big thing because I just want everyone to feel welcomed. And also, I think there should be a lot more mental health support. We have the RUOK? team and we have so much mental health support, but I think… AUT's vision is to create great graduates, and I think the one way we can do that is by providing that mental health support that's needed for students.


How will you balance your personal study goals with the responsibilities of being President?

I think I have that balance between studying and working and my own goals. I don't want to make the experience stressful for me, but obviously it's a little bit stressful and it's a lot of pressure having all that on your shoulders.


What is your approach to leadership?

I want to really get to know what the students want and how they think, what they think a good university really is, you know? And I just want to bring all those different cultures together so that no one feels like they don't belong here or like they're too stressed out or anything like that. I just want everyone to feel welcome and together.

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