Racial Equality Officer: Candidate profiles

There are four candidates in the Racial Equality Officer election ©YUSU

The Yorker looks at the candidates for Racial Equality Officer in this year's YUSU elections.

Itai Michael Choto and Rohan Banerjee

©York Vision; Image credit: Oliver Todd

Second year Politics students Itai Michael Choto and Rohan Banerjee are teaming up to run for the position of Racial Equality Officer.

In his first year, Choto was elected President of the Social and Political Sciences Society, which was runner up in ‘Best New Society’ at the 2011 YUSU awards.

Banerjee is the university’s representative of a consultancy network which specialises in China based recruitment, as well as being a Halifax STYC last year.

Choto and Banerjee told The Yorker that they will encourage students to develop their own cultural and personal identity.

They also pledge to encourage even more inter-societal events between cultural groups on campus, have by-weekly drop in sessions, increase interactivity and co-operation and better publicise the role.

Choto and Banerjee said: “Coming from two very different backgrounds and cultures, we feel this embedded diversity in our own partnership can serve as the bedrock of any future policies we hope to execute.”

Interesting fact about Itai: “Through my father’s political work, I have had the rare opportunity to meet a number of important figures in Africa.”

Interesting fact about Rohan: “Through my aunt’s work as a Race Liaison officer at Sussex Police, I have attended a number of UNISON and SBPA (Sussex Black Police Association) events across the country.

Find out more about this candidate: Manifesto | Facebook | URY Interview | YSTV

Asiya Elgady

©York Vision; Image credit: Oliver Todd

Second year Sociology student Asiya Elgady wants to put her experience from running anti-discriminatory and educational campaigns with NGOs to good use as Racial Equalities Officer.

Elgady has been Assistant Project Manager and Networking and PR officer for those campaigns and she is currently Chair of the Culture Society.

She told The Yorker that her main policy is to bridge the gap between international and domestic students through informative speaker and social events.

If elected, Elgady said that she would also like to change the student body perception of race, strengthen the link between YUSU and student societies, provide more readily accessible and informative services for the student body, and integrate more within the wider York community.

She believes that her “winning smile (cheesy grin)” makes her stand out from the crowd, adding, “no seriously, primarily my experience both within and outside of the university.”

Interesting fact about Asiya: “I've always wanted to sing in a New York jazz club.”

Find out more about this candidate: Manifesto | Facebook | Video | URY Interview | YSTV

Vishnuu Nithiyananthan

©York Vision; Image credit: Oliver Todd

Second Year Maths student Vishnuu Nithiyananthan is also a STYC and a course rep, which he believes gives him experience campaigning on issues. He added that he feels these skills are transferable and that he has a “huge passion” for the Racial Equalities Officer position.

Nithiyananthan also lobbied YUSU at Fairfax House in his first year, arguing for compensation for every student as a result of building work and carpet refurbishments affecting crucial exam periods.

Nithiyananthan has pledged to revamp the role of Racial Equalities Officer. Through better communication, building relationships between the Racial Equalities Committee and other areas of the student body, he told The Yorker that he “hopes to revitalise an area of YUSU that many feel let down by.”

He added that he “hopes to allow all racial issues to be dealt with,” and to allow all races on campus to be able to come to him with problems.

Interesting fact about Vishnuu: “I speak fluent Tamil.”

Find out more about this candidate: Manifesto

Rebekah Phiri

©Nouse; Image credit: Philippa Grafton

Rebekah Phiri, a second year PPE student, is already involved with the Racial Equality Network, as well as being Co-President for the African and Caribbean Society.

She told The Yorker: “Currently being involved with the Racial Equality Network means I have an understanding of what they stand for and can continue the work we are currently doing, as well as bringing my own fresh ideas.”

Phiri is also a Student Ambassador, a speaker for a panel discussion on Black Identity in Education and a University of York representative for Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, a not-for-profit organisation focused on improving access for ethnic minority students into the most competitive professions.

Her key policies are to work for inclusivity and encourage students to take a more active role, and to work within existing Welfare services to provide specialised support networks.

She added that she would like to make the Racial Equality Network a centralised platform for all cultural and faith societies to discuss and address issues faced by their members and if elected she would collaborate with these societies to organise and publicise targeted events and ensure the university commemorates key events.

Interesting fact about Rebekah: “I am a huge Disney fan and I have every single Disney movie ever made on VHS or DVD.”

Find out more about this candidate: Manifesto | Facebook | Campaign Blog | Twitter | Video | URY Interview | YSTV | Poster

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