It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The Students’ Union election is right around the corner and every year the Gauntlet puts together the fine SU election supplement that you’re holding in your hands right now. The supplement is made to inform students of who is running, what they hope to do if they’re elected and who we think is most likely to actually accomplish their goals.
We cleaned up the office, put on some clean shirts and invited all candidates with eyes on executive positions to make their case for this year’s election. After a five-minute platform pitch and a 10-minute question-and-answer session with a panel of Gauntlet staff, we put together these snack-sized profiles to help inform students on the election candidates.
It will be an interesting year for all incoming SU representatives. In early 2018, a long-awaited resolution to the MacHall ownership dispute was put forward, with the SU to take management and the University of Calgary to take ownership of the building on May 1. The need for a strong student government that’s ready to represent students’ interests on the Joint Liaison Committee — the committee that will be responsible for any future developments in MacHall — is more necessary than ever. In addition, Elizabeth Cannon has announced her resignation and will be on her way out on
Dec. 31. This rare combination offers the potential to set a new status quo for relations between the SU and administration.
We’re well aware that election time isn’t a joy for everyone. It’s impossible to walk to class without getting every meme-riddled election poster seared into the deepest parts of your brain and you’re probably not paying attention to every classroom pitch ahead of your morning lectures. While it can be annoying, SU elections have a significant impact on all U of C students whether you’re here for several more years or not. Electing competent officials to represent the student body deserves at least a day’s worth of attention every year.
Once you’ve read the Gauntlet candidate profiles, check out our endorsements and take the time to review every candidates’ platforms for yourself. We’re happy to help present you with as much information as we can but the choice will always be yours. Every platform is available on the SU website and every candidate is available during the campaign period to answer your questions themselves, so don’t hesitate to ask them anything.
So what next? Well, park yourself down and give this a read, then make sure you vote from March 6–8. You can vote online through your student centre or in-person via ballot boxes across campus.
Board of Governors
The Board of Governors manages the operations of the U of C. The student-at-large representative attends BOG meetings and voices student concerns.
Ayachit’s platform is mainly comprised of unusual promises from a Board of Governors representative candidate. He wants to improve employment prospects for graduates, expand experiential learning opportunities and obtain more scholarships for students. Though Ayachit had some good ideas, like reviving current BOG representative Sam Sirianni’s goal of hosting a meet-and-greet for students with members of the BOG, he did not display a strong grasp of the position and did not elaborate on how he will make these ideas happen or on other logistical aspects of his platform.
Ayachit credited his experience founding clubs and serving as the SU engineering faculty representative as reasons for running for the BOG representative position. However, his platform sounds like a vice-president academic platform, though he argues that his proximity to high-level university administrators will help him achieve his goals. Ayachit said the positive feedback he received from students he worked with in the past also influenced his decision to run.
Ayachit noted that his vision of Elizabeth Cannon’s replacement was someone who still “believes in the Energize Eyes High mission” and he seemed hopeful that admin would be following their status quo in his term. For these reasons, it’s unlikely
Ayachit would stand up for students if administration continued to ignore pressing issues in favour of entrepreneurial ventures. This is a problematic stance for either of the two designated student voices on the BOG to take.
He lacked knowledge of how the BOG’s relationship with the provincial government works and what his role would entail. He also stumbled on whether the BOG is responsible to the ministry of advanced education or the general public. According to the Post Secondary Learning Act, BOGs are autonomous as long as they do not overstep their delegated powers. Ayachit also expects to lobby the government alongside other members of the SU executive, though this would be largely an unprecedented step.
Ayachit’s unrealistic platform and lack of research does not warrant confidence in his ability to serve as the BOG representative.
• SU engineering representative, 2017–18
• President, Chess Club 2015–16
• Internship with an engineering procurement construction management company, 2017–18
Frank Finley would be a vocal advocate to the Board of Governors, the U of C’s highest decision-making body. The current SU arts representative has a strong understanding of the workings of the university and knows how to influence them, making him a solid choice for the position.
If elected, Finley would begin his term on a board that also includes Elizabeth Cannon, whom he publicly asked to resign in a 2015 Town Hall following the Enbridge controversy. Unafraid to make things awkward, Finley wants to make sure that BOG isn’t just a “rubber stamp” procedure. Though the position is just one vote on a board of 21, Finley claims that to make his voice heard requires being informed, eloquent and bring student concerns forward with strong arguments.
The tension would be palpable. But maybe that’s okay.
Finley’s first platform point is to create an advisory committee that consists of representatives from “large and important student organizations on campus.” He said the committee would be contacted through email and would advise him on policy decisions. It would be an admirable effort to get more perspectives into BOG processes, but even Finley admits that student engagement could still be limited. Additionally, what classifies a student organization as important is subject to bias and may foster further indifference in unengaged students compared to the school’s already established ‘involved.’
Still, Finley is correct in claiming that a large part of the student body doesn’t really know what the BOG is. Finley wants to change that by connecting and communicating with more students.
An interesting plan Finley has for the position is to try to get more students to attend board meetings — both as official board members and to observe. Getting more student voices on the BOG has been a recurring platform point for BOG candidates, but unlike those past candidates,
Finley might have found a way in the
Post-Secondary Learning Act that will permit it. He also wants to invite students and politicians to meeting, noting that the tone of discussions can change when people actually come to watch. Whether or not he could use his established network to make this a reality remains to be seen, but the mere presence of more students at meetings could be an extremely effective method to strengthen students’ interests in BOG decisions.
Finley’s past SU experience and his thought-out platform would make him competent for most positions, but it’s his confrontational style and ability to advocate for students that make him a strong candidate for BOG representative.
•SU arts representative, 2016–18
•Ministerial intern, Ministry of Culture and Tourism and Office of the Premier
•Vice-president external, U of C Debate Society
Mike Moman is an interesting candidate. Having an extensive background in student politics at the Grande Prairie Regional College, Moman says he will stand up for the interests of U of C students if he is elected as Board of Governors representative. Looking through his resumé, it’s easy to believe him.
Moman served as last year’s Students’ Association president at Grande Prairie Regional College and their vice-president internal the year before. He has also served on that school’s Board of Governors. This experience allows him to know exactly what he is getting into. Moman doesn’t have an agenda for his time on the board, or much of a platform, saying you can’t make promises to students in this kind of position. Instead, he wants to represent students accurately when voting on issues.
Moman claims the most important task he will face is educating students on the purpose of BOG, noting that most students don’t know what the organization does. Moman is well-positioned to pull this off because he has connections with many different groups in the university, such as his announcer position with the Dinos.
Moman feels that, because the university will be appointing a new president and because there will likely be a new chair of BOG, it is vital to have experienced student members sitting on the board. Moman also says he will not just be a ‘yes-man’ and will never have a problem voting contrarily to administration’s interests.
It should be noted that Moman did not seem to know much about the current student representatives on BOG. Following a pause when asked to critique representative Sam Sirianni’s work, Moman said he couldn’t say anything negative about her as everyone does things differently. This demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the current board, but is excusable since it is his first year at the university.
Moman is a compelling speaker who seems to have student interests at heart. Looking at how fast he has connected with different groups in his first year at the University of Calgary and based on his impressive history in student politics, Moman would serve effectively as the student representative position on the Board of Governors.
•President, Students’ Association of Grande Prairie Regional College, 2016–17
•Vice-president internal, Students’ Association of Grande Prairie Regional College, 2015–16
•Board Member – Grande Prairie Regional College Board of Governors, 2016–17