The new executive chairperson of Durham College Students Inc. (DCSI) clearly has a ‘fun’ side.
Jenna Peace, 24, won the top job after months of campaigning and competing in the 2020 student elections against two other candidates: Eduardo Akeson and Michael Shmelev.
At times, Peace campaigned on a bicycle wearing a life-sized banana suit handing out goodie bags, chatting with students and making herself known.
“Standing out in a banana suit and talking to people, even just walking around, was a good idea because people were turning their heads and that was creating attention,” says Peace.
“I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t annoying people when I went around trying to get people to vote for me so this was a funny way to get them to remember my face.”
Peace won the position by a considerable majority, securing 49.6 per cent of the votes (858 votes), while Shmelev came in at 30.3 per cent (525 votes) and Akeson at 20.1 per cent (348 votes).
The election was held March 10-12, ending just before COVID-19 put an end to daily activity on campus. Voter turnout was 14.6 per cent (1,750 votes cast of 12,017 eligible voters) electors voted in this ballot, registering a 5.4 per cent increase since last year.
“It feels really good. I’ve never really done anything like this before in my life because I never thought I had what it took,” she says. “It’s really reassuring to know that I guess I do have what it takes by getting so many votes.”
Prior to enrolling at Durham, Peace worked as an event co-ordinator in Montreal after completing an event planning course at LaSalle College in Montreal.
“I add benefit to this role because a lot of it involves the events that go on campus. Since I am a student and have done event co-ordination, I think it is the perfect little mix to not just, as people would say, hand out popcorn, but plan more fun events,” she says. “I just want to enhance all these little things.”
Peace says she intend to make four key changes during her time as executive chairperson.
Primarily, she hopes to start a student networking series where students get to interact with not only those in other programs within the school, but also industry experts.
“Right now, we’re all in our secluded little classes from day one to when we graduate. I want to have a series of events where we get to mingle with and build our network,” she says. “Whenever I work on future projects, I would love to use someone I went to school with that I can trust with their work versus someone I have to hire and potentially, not have it work out.”
Another item she wants to bring forth is new, improved religious spaces for students of all backgrounds.
“There are a lot of international students at this school and there’s not enough representation for religious spaces,” she continues. “I find students in the bathroom cleaning themselves for prayer in the sink, balancing on one foot. For students to have no other option than to wash in a public space as people come and go is a real injustice in my eyes.”
Peace also wants to advocate for healthier and more affordable food options at campus.
In addition, she is seeking to add more nap pods and quiet spaces, especially for students who live far from campus to relax between classes.
“Nothing happens overnight so even if I don’t see it in my time at least I’ve got the ball rolling,” she adds. “I am willing to just dedicate my time to these things and I will talk to anyone if they give me their ear. If anyone wants to tell me their ideas, I’m ready to discuss that as well.”