Candidate profile: Eshana Bhangu, Senate

Incumbent Eshana Bhangu is running for a second term in the Senate on a platform of equity, accessibility and transparency.

The second-year arts student and co-chair of the Student Senate Caucus hopes to continue pushing for policies that help international students and minorities, for greater use of open educational resources and for better Senate transparency.

One of her priorities is to call for an equity audit of institutional racism at UBC. The audit is one of the student caucus’s recommendations from its goal-setting document, Senate 2023, which Bhangu helped author.

“I want to push for a review that would essentially look at all the policies that fall under the Senate with an equity and accessibility lens so that we can make more steps towards becoming an actively anti-racist institution,” she said.

Bhangu was the only newcomer elected as senator-at-large last year, running on a platform that promised to help international students transition to the Canadian education system. The senator was unable to implement her policies with the move to online learning, but she’s proposing alternatives for next year.

One plan will look to build on the services already in place at UBC’s Centre for Writing and Scholarly Communication by training the program’s tutors to better support international students.

She also believes that any decision surrounding the return to in-person classes should be announced in a timely manner.

“When we’re going back in person, financial duress is something a lot of international students might fear if the university doesn’t communicate to them in time when you’re trying to make last-minute travel arrangements.”

On open education, Bhangu wants to reduce textbook costs and restrict the use of remote invigilation software like Proctorio, both of which she said have raised concerns over equity and accessibility.

Bhangu said that recorded lectures should continue after the return to in-person classes as well.

To accommodate students who are immunocompromised or unable to return to campus, Bhangu proposed a hybrid model of in-person and online classes.

If re-elected, Bhangu would improve transparency by pushing for committee meetings to be public, part of Bhangu’s broader call for improved communication between the Senate and students.

During debates, she called on paid AMS and GSS advocates to do more on communication, one of the few contentious points Bhangu made in an otherwise amicable field.

Bhangu also wants term limits for faculty senators.

“It’s really hard to get fresh perspectives ... which also contributes to somewhat problematic of a culture at times where student leaders are facing an uphill battle whenever we try to advocate,” she said.

“If I’m not advocating for [students], then there’s no point in me being here.”

Voting is open online from March 1 until March 5. This article is part of our 2021 AMS elections coverage.