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Photo by Samuel Cheffins

OP-fi forum kicks off SU executive candidate forums

By Scott Strasser, February 28 2017 —

The first executive candidate forum for the 2017 Students’ Union election took place on Feb. 28 in the MacHall south courtyard. The forum featured the two candidates vying for the position of vice-president operations and finance — Ryan Wallace and Briana Stallcup.

Stallcup however, was absent from the event due to a scheduled class. Campaign agent Cristinita MacAldaz took her place.

Moderated by current SU president Stephan Guscott, the forum featured an opening address from each participant, a series of questions from Guscott, a speed-round and audience questions.

Wallace rehashed his platform in his opening address, stating that he wants to do a full SU policy and services review, as well as a review of the SU’s health and dental plan.

“This is to help ensure that the SU is more transparent and that [student representatives] better understand their roles to make sure they are representing the student voice more accurately,” Wallace said.

In her opening address, MacAldaz said Stallcup’s platform centres around accountability and a reallocation of SU funds. She highlighted that Stallcup intends to find an alternative for the SU’s annual Colour Night transition event and reallocate the funds for “De-Stress Kits,” which currently cost the SU thousands of dollars each year.

MacAldaz also mentioned Stallcup’s goal of getting the university to publish the budget for revenue earned from MacHall vendors. The SU lost control of roughly $1.9 million in revenue from MacHall vendors following their failed injunction application last year.

“She wants to conduct a monthly review so students actually know where the revenue loss is going. Secondly, she wants to prioritize funding for clubs and marginalized groups,” MacAldaz said. “Briana cares about mental health advocacy as well.”

Early into the event, Guscott asked each participant what approach they would take regarding the ongoing MacHall ownership dispute between the SU and the university.

Wallace said he wants to minimize the impacts that are felt by students in the short term and aim for “small victories.”

“Since the 1960s, students have been paying for renovations to the MacEwan Student Centre and I think it’s extremely important that moving forward, the SU continues with the stance that we need recognition for that investment in the building,” he said. “There have been some small impacts that have been felt by students and we need to work towards minimizing those.”

MacAldaz said that Stallcup’s plan for a monthly review of the revenue generated by MacHall would help keep the university accountable with how they allocate the funds.

“What Briana wants to do is give the students a say in keeping the university accountable. She’s super excited to work with the other executives and also [other students] on campus to figure out what students would find more effective with their money,” MacAldaz said. “Finding out what the SU is doing with that $1.9 million loss — Briana thinks students deserve to know.”

Audience questions included why Stallcup was absent, which candidate consulted with the current vice-president operations and finance prior to running and what kind of leadership or budgeting experience each candidate had.

MacAldaz also faced a question on whether Stallcup’s proposed alternative to Colour Night would be more expensive.

“It’s not about creating a Colour Night for everyone because that would be way too expensive. It’s about the fact that Colour Night is a pretty extravagant event and it’s pretty exclusive. Briana wants to do something that is not as expensive and that actually involves everyday students,” MacAldaz said.

A few dozen students attended the forum.

For the Gauntlet’s review of the two candidates vying for vice-president operations and finance, click here.

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