By Jason Herring, February 20 2018 —
For the second time in four years, the next Students’ Union president is acclaimed. Current SU kinesiology representative Sagar Grewal will serve as next year’s president after being the only person nominated for the position. We sat down with him to talk about MacHall, the next U of C president and his would-be campaign theme.
The Gauntlet: What are your thoughts on being acclaimed?
Sagar Grewal: It’s a really interesting feeling, especially being someone who has been part of the election for the last two years and had to go through the whole campaign process. Being told I was acclaimed just feels so different, that it’s just done then and there. I just hope it doesn’t affect voter turnout too much. I hope students still vote for the other executive positions and still choose who their elected officials will be.
Gauntlet: Did you see the acclamations coming?
Grewal: No. I had actually heard some names who were also interested in running for president. I was expecting a race and I was actually preparing for one.
Gauntlet: I know that some universities have a yes/no ballot for acclamations. Do you think not having something like that that affects the legitimacy of the position at all?
Grewal: I don’t really think it affects the legitimacy, but I think it’s something that’s interesting to think about. In the future, I think it’s something that’s worth thinking about — letting students still have their say in who their elected officials are for acclamations. I know people have thought about that in the past and are thinking about doing it now, so I’m interested in seeing how that turns out.
Gauntlet: We’re not going to get the privilege of seeing your face hung up around campus for the election. Can you let us in on what your campaign would’ve looked like?
Grewal: My campaign theme was actually going to be Drake-themed. Drake goes by “Champagne Papi,” so I was going to go by “Campaign Papi.” I was going to have a bunch of 1-800-VOTE-4-SAGAR posters and pictures of me sitting on MacHall to recreate the Views album cover. It was going to be a whole thing.
Gauntlet: I think it’s a bit of a crime we’re not allowed to see those out in the world.
Grewal: You know, I’ll probably still post some on social media because I had them ready to go. I even had some “If you’re reading this, vote for Sagar” ones.
Gauntlet: What kind of things do you expect to be taking up most of your time once you’re sitting in that president’s chair?
Grewal: Right away, one of the biggest things will be the transition of MacHall, returning to the management of the Students’ Union, which is effective May 1. I think that’s probably a lot of what’s already going on, in terms of getting ready for the transition period and then handling those first few days of overseeing management again.
Gauntlet: Can you elaborate on those latest developments on MacHall?
Grewal: The Students’ Union and the University of Calgary actually came to two agreements, the Stakeholders’ Rights Agreement (SRA) and the Management and Use of Space Agreement (MUSA). These basically outline the rights of the SU and the U of C in the building. The MUSA is a more in-detail agreement about what management actually looks like, getting into everything from maintenance to cleaning to the grease traps in the building, so it’s very detailed. That’s renewable every 10 years. The SRA is in perpetuity for the life of the building, as well as any redevelopments, any renovations or any recreations of this building, in case it ever was torn down or whatever it might be.
Gauntlet: This certainly sets a tone for your relationship with the U of C. What kind of atmosphere do you hope to build?
Grewal: I think it will be very interesting being the SU president with two different U of C presidents and maybe even a third if there’s an interim period if one’s not chosen in time. I think it’s going to be a relationship that’s going to have to be fairly adaptable with a number of people but still maintaining the great relationship that we’ve built over the last couple of years and keeping that progress moving forward. I think this MacHall resolution was a win for students, so I want to make sure student rights are still being advocated for and held at interest.
Gauntlet: You’re going to be among those on the committee that searches for Cannon’s replacement. What kind of things are you hoping to bring to that search?
Grewal: I think a big key point for me, as someone who is representing undergraduate students, is making sure that the next U of C president does have undergraduate students and students in general as a top priority and I’m glad to see that student experience is in the Eyes High strategy as a cross-cutting theme. I hope the applicants demonstrate that interest to me by showing me that, yes, student experience and students do matter and that they will be a priority for them. It is in the strategic document and if they’re going to be a leader of the university, they should be able to make that promise.
Gauntlet: What do the words ‘student experience’ mean to you as a student yourself?
Grewal: It’s literally the life we live here on campus. It’s coming to university every day, everything you do from your classes to your extracurriculars to literally being on campus as a member of this community. I think it encompasses a lot of things for a lot of different people. It’s really hard to define — I know the SU tried to define it earlier this year. It’s a very diverse tapestry and that’s something that does need to be acknowledged, that there’s no single or simple solution that fits everyone for what student experience really means.
Gauntlet: What are your expecting to see from executives and representatives who actually have races to run during this election period?
Grewal: I’m excited. I know what it’s like to be running in those campaigns, I know how tiring it is, and I hope they know they have my full support and I’m behind them in terms of willpower. I’m looking forward to seeing how those races go.
Gauntlet: You’re going to kick back, take it easy, though?
Grewal: I’m hoping to still be out there, still engaging with students, because it’s unfortunate that as someone who was acclaimed students won’t be able to get to know me to the same extent as those who go through campaigning. I’ll still actually be out there engaging with students, getting my face out there and talking to them, as well as encouraging them to still vote. I know in the past when there was a presidential acclimation votership did drop. I hope that doesn’t happen this year because there are still four executive positions up for grabs, which is still huge and I hope students do get out there and vote. That’s gonna be my message this campaign period.
Interview edited for clarity and brevity.