Arezoo Alemzadeh Mehrizi is hoping to translate her experience advocating for students in the Graduate Student Society and Senate to the Board of Governors.
Mehrizi is running for one of two UBC Vancouver student seats on the Board of Governors (BoG) on a platform of graduate student support, professional development support and stopping tuition increases.
The fifth-year PhD candidate researching endometrial cancer was the VP students of the Graduate Student Society (GSS) from 2017 to 2018, where she said she was able to boost both revenue and participation in GSS events while spending less.
She’s also a graduate and postdoctoral studies student senator.
Mehrizi spoke at length about graduate student support. She said she’d advocate for a package to help students affected by COVID-19-related research curtailment, a package for child care and financial assistance for both graduate and undergraduate students.
She said she’d also push for more scholarships for international students.
“It’s very important that we recognize the international talents ... and it’s very important for Canada itself. It’s very important that we keep [international students] and we help them, because if we do, they’re going to give back to society,” said Mehrizi.
Specifically, Mehrizi said she’d fight for more scholarships for doctoral students, and would fight for a tuition waiver for PhD students in general. She wants to put money toward climate action and the Indigenous Strategic Plan as well.
On professional development, Mehrizi spoke of knowing many students who are graduating and not being able to find jobs. She said she’d push for more investment in co-op and Work Learn programs.
Reflecting on the work of current BoG student reps Jeanie Malone and Max Holmes, Mehrizi said the two have done a good job in pushing for graduate student support but could have done more to prevent tuition increases last year.
She said the university should rework its finances so it doesn’t have to rely on tuition increases for revenue. In debates, she often came back to this point when discussing tuition and enrolment.
She said what sets her apart from other candidates is her track record.
“I have a record of successful advocacy — not just advocacy, successful advocacy.”
She cited her work as vice-chair of the Senate Teaching and Learning committee as an example of her strong advocacy and personality as a student leader. The committee recently passed a motion to restrict the use of Proctorio and remote invigilation software, to be sent to the full Senate in March.
“We looked at all the [student] concerns [about Proctorio], we’ve come up with a solution and that motion has been passed,” she said.
“My leadership — that throughout the years has been helping me to successfully advocate and make things happen — is when the university gives you a lot of reasons your request cannot be done, you always come up with [a] solution.”