The five candidates running for the four spots on the Students' Union External Commission this year are a diverse group. They include a former Miss Barbie, a politically-inclined Biology major, a big jazz fan, a Gregorian chant aficionado, and a current Residence Community Assistant.
The External Commissioners, along with the Vice-president External, represent students to governments at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. Candidates are unanimously focused on tuition and funding.
"I think the biggest issue facing the External Commission will be the next Board of Governors meeting dealing with tuition and continuing efforts to lobby the government," said third-year French student Jane Alkhouri.
As a young girl, Alkhouri was proudly crowned Miss Barbie at the Montreal Eaton's pageant. She is currently an SU Operations and Finance Commissioner.
Second-year Biology student Oliver Bladek also keyed in on money.
"We need a net influx of cash into the net operating budget so it affects the lives of everyone on campus," he said, noting that recent funding increases were not distributed evenly.
Alleviating student debt is the primary cause for jazz fan and fourth-year English/History major Stefan Lohka.
"It's tough for students and they're not getting the experience they need [at university] if they're worrying about debt," he said. "We have to help out."
Lohka is currently the Students' Academic Assembly Faculty Representative for Humanities.
Gregorian chant aficionado and first-year Engineering student Matthew Schneider takes a slightly different tack on the tuition issue.
"If you have tuition, it's an incentive to go to class, but it's a bit high at $3,600," he said.
Schneider favours working with the university Board of Governors and the provincial government to foster cooperation. He also called for tuition to be linked to inflation so that debate can focus on real dollar values.
Second-year Political Science student Matt Stambaugh decided to run for the SU based on positive experience as a Community Assistant in Kananaskis Hall this year. While he identified tuition as the number one issue, he also emphasized the role of an External Commissioner.
"The External Commission position is an ambassador between the students and the su," said Stambaugh. "We need to get people aware of what the SU does."
All candidates were disappointed by the low number of students running for SU positions this year, but are pleased to be involved in a race themselves.