Convicted thief running for student prez post says he's turned his life around
Published Wednesday, March 8, 2017 6:33PM EST
Three years ago, a residence don at Wilfrid Laurier University was accused of stealing thousands of dollars’ worth of items from multiple university residences.
The case made its way through the courts, with Jeremiah Rojas ending up convicted of 38 crimes and sentenced to jail time.
That’s old news – but it’s something a lot of people have been talking about this week at the University of Guelph.
That’s because Rojas is the only person running for president of the Central Student Association, which represents all of Guelph’s undergraduate students.
Voting ran from Monday to Wednesday, and Rojas’ past was an issue that dominated social media conversations about the election.
After being approached by CTV News, Rojas – who now goes by the name Jay – agreed to an interview, saying he thought being open and transparent about his past would help convince students they could trust him.
Rojas was convicted of theft in Peterborough for stealing a computer from his roommate, before he moved to Waterloo Region.
In the interview, he said being a thief was an addiction for him, to the point where he doesn’t even remember what specific items he stole.
“I just enjoyed it,” he said. “At the time, I got a high from it.”
The convictions in Waterloo Region led to jail time, which Rojas says caused him to rethink the choices he had made.
Even after he was released from custody, he says, he struggled with suicidal thoughts.
“I did stand on top of the Homer Watson bridge, asking myself ‘What’s the point of living if I don’t feel alive?’”
He credits counsellors and hard work with helping him get his life on track and finish his degree at the University of Guelph.
He was elected to the Central Students Association executive last fall, and decided he was interested in running for president the next time the opportunity presented himself.
Asked if he would revert to stealing again, Rojas replied that he “definitely” would not.
“Temptation is temptation, because it’s what addiction is,” he said. “As a recovering addict, those temptations may come and go – but it’s the action that makes the difference.”
With reporting by Abigail Bimman