Every year during reading week, the Gauntlet puts together our Students’ Union election supplement to inform students on who is running, what they plan to do if elected and who we think is best for the job.
We invite all candidates vying for executive positions to our office — after the one time every year that we actually clean it — for a five-minute platform pitch and a 10-minute question and answer session. A panel of Gauntlet staff picks apart the platforms and grills candidates on some of the key issues they would face if elected.
Last year, the MacHall ownership dispute between the SU and the University of Calgary demonstrated the need for strong student government. The dispute — and the ensuing lawsuit — was inherited by this year’s Students’ Legislative Council and will be passed on to whomever is elected this March. The failure of the injunction application this year and the resulting loss of control over roughly $1.9 million in MacHall-based revenue puts the incoming SLC in a difficult position. U of C students need competent student leaders now more than ever to address the MacHall ownership issue and work in the interest of students.
We know the election period can be annoying. Posters cover every possible inch of wall space and costumed candidates invade your classes to beg for votes. Student elections can seem juvenile and meaningless, but their outcomes are still significant. The SU’s decisions and policies affect the student body as a whole, whether it’s fighting for tuition fee regulation or keeping country music out of Bermuda Shorts Day. It is crucial we elect capable officials who have our best interests at heart.
Since you can’t properly judge a candidate on an outdated meme poster or a 90-second classroom pitch, the Gauntlet is here to inform you of the candidates’ qualifications and platforms. Once you’ve read our reviews, look for our panel’s endorsements on the last page. These are the candidates we feel would do the best job if elected based on their interview, platform and previous experience. But don’t just take our word for it. Every candidate’s platform is on the SU website, and most candidates make themselves available during the campaign period if you have any questions.
And of course, don’t forget to vote March 7-9. You can vote online through your student centre or in person via ballot boxes in MacHall.
Operations and Finance
The vice-president operations and finance is responsible for the Students’ Union’s budget, SU policy and the fiscal operation of their businesses in MacHall. They also chair several SU committees.
With a platform focused entirely around accountability and uprooting the system, Briana Stallcup is an adventurous and unconventional choice for Students’ Union vice-president operations and finance. However, if elected, many of her ideas would be incredibly difficult to execute.
Stallcup’s most intriguing platform point is convincing the university to publicly release the monthly budget pertaining to the $1.9-million annual revenue they will collect from MacHall vendors — something the SU lost control over this year with the failed injunction ruling. In theory, more fiscal transparency from university institutions should be pursued. However, Stallcup seems shaky on the details of how this money is distributed in the first place, and convincing the university to do anything — let alone release financial details they don’t want to — is no easy task.
Stallcup’s banner idea is a reallocation of funds, particularly regarding “Colour Night” — the SU’s annual elected official transition party. Stallcup says the event creates a divide between the SU and students and proposed an open “meet-and-greet” with the student body instead. She’s right that incoming and outgoing SU elected officials partying the night away doesn’t scream open engagement, but it’s a longstanding tradition in the SU. It’s hard to imagine other members of Students’ Legislative Council agreeing to give up their annual bash.
Similarly, Stallcup hopes to reallocate the thousands of dollars spent annually on “De-stress Kits,” which she finds ineffective. However, she doesn’t have any idea of what that replacement would be, claiming that she’ll rely on science and consulting with other elected officials to find out what actually de-stresses students.
Stallcup believes character is the most important part of a candidate and her heart is definitely in the right place. Her prioritization of student engagement and accountability are admirable and she is incredibly passionate about student issues. However, her platform is a lot of ideas with little concrete planning on how to accomplish them. When asked what she would do if SLC wasn’t on board with some of her plans, she said she’d reevaluate and adapt to what people wanted. This lack of thought or planning is alarming.
Ultimately, Stallcup is this year’s anti-establishment candidate. If an overhaul of SU tradition is what you feel is needed, feel free to give her your vote. However, don’t trust that she’ll be able to follow through on anything she promises.
• Executive for Society of Undergraduates in Economics
• Executive for Consent Awareness and Sexual Education club
Ryan Wallace is a strong and competent candidate with a wide understanding of the issues that will face the Students’ Union in the upcoming year. His platform centres around reviewing the SU’s existing policies to improve their accessibility, as well as reviewing the effectiveness of the services offered by the SU.
Wallace’s platform approaches transparency in a positive way. He believes improving access to information and policies would improve transparency. When questioned about the work of current vice-president operations and finance Branden Cave, Wallace offered constructive criticism that shows his approach to policy review differs from his predecessor.
Wallace wants to conduct a review of the Health and Dental plan to ensure its long term success. His approach to the Health and Dental plan shows his understanding of the vice-president operations and finance’s role as well as his familiarity with the SU in general.
Wallace plans on reviewing the services offered by the SU in order to ensure they are run efficiently and cost-effectively. This is part of his approach to minimize the short term damages of the MacHall injunction loss. While these ideas are not catchy, he demonstrates a practical approach to dealing with the short term implications of the injunction loss. He was able to cite specific obscure programs in need of review — such as the SU’s online housing service — suggesting his accountability efforts aren’t just an empty promise.
One red flag for Wallace is that he fell short when asked about his long-term plan for MacHall. The ownership lawsuit will likely continue next year and the vice-president operations and finance will play an integral role in the SU’s position regarding the building’s future.
Wallace has plenty of experience getting things done on campus through his work with the SU and the Haskayne Students’ Association. While he may not have the most exciting platform, he has the experience and knowledge needed to effectively lead the SU’s operation through next year.
• SU Haskayne School of Business representative 2016–17
• Former Haskayne Students’ Association president and vice-president marketing
For more coverage of the 2017 Students’ Union election, click here. Our next election article, featuring profiles of the vice-president external candidates, will go online at 12:00 p.m. on Feb. 28. And come out to our Great Presidential Debate on Thursday March 2 at 3:00 p.m. in the Cassio Room to watch the presidential candidates literally fight each other. It’s gonna be great. More info here.