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.
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.
Kevin Dang’s experience as a science representative and his thorough understanding of the vice-president operations and finance role make him a good choice for the position. However, while his platform is mostly feasible, it lacks imagination and originality.
Dang heavily emphasizes the need for student consultation. One of his major focuses is on increasing student consultation for redeveloping MacHall spaces and programs. To do so, Dang proposed using tenant revenue and working with newly formed committees from the recent MacHall agreement with the university, showing that he is familiar with the current responsibilities of the position.
Dang’s most intriguing platform point aims to create new programs to address issues of food waste and food insecurity on campus. However, Dang didn’t clarify what potential pilot programs would look like and how they would differ from existing services, like the SU Campus Food Bank.
Continuing in the footsteps of current vice-president operations and finance Ryan Wallace, Dang said that he wants to look into ensuring that current SU services, like the Health and Dental plan, are sustainable both for students and the SU. He also said that he wants to continue work on the Cannabis Working Group to make sure weed legislation is handled carefully on campus. His past experience consulting with Wallace and serving on the operations and finance committee will likely be useful in this capacity. However, simply pledging to “continue to work” on the services is an easy platform point that should be a necessary requirement for whoever takes the job next year.
Dang also wants to increase engagement with the SU by ensuring that student-at-large positions are more accessible for all students. This could benefit those looking to get more involved on campus. Dang’s proposal to create a centralized application and standardized training for successful applicants — while daunting — could pay off if implemented properly.
Dang is well-versed in the responsibilities that fall under the vice-president operations and finance portfolio. He articulated his thoughts clearly and was confident in delivering a promising platform that would maintain the status-quo and continue to benefit students. Overall, Dang would keep the ship afloat, making him a safe choice for the position.
• SU science representative, 2017–18
• Member of the SU Operations and Finance Committee, 2017–2018
• The Science Undergraduate Symposium task force chair and project lead, 2017–18
You may remember Briana Stallcup’s unabashedly anti-establishment campaign from last year. This time, the same drive for institutional accountability and a truly student-focused union is bolstered by a year’s worth of reflection.
In all her platform points, Stallcup is committed to refocusing the SU back on students. She appears firm in her stance to never support any financial increase for students. She also recognizes the significant opportunity to advocate for student interests in the newly formed Joint Liaison Committee (JLC), which will be the governing body for SU-allocated spaces under the new MacHall ownership agreement.
Stallcup is intent on prioritizing student interests in MacHall like deferred maintenance, new vendors and accessible seating. Most importantly, she sees the JLC as a great opportunity to foster a new relationship with university administration — one that doesn’t cower when it comes to representing student interests. She believes the SU is for students and wants to eliminate hesitation when butting heads with administration.
Similar to last year’s platform, Stallcup still has her eyes on the reallocation of funds, namely regarding the SU Health and Dental Plan and the Travel and Conference award funding. She intends to ensure the Health and Dental Plan, which currently costs more than student fees cover, is run sustainably and efficiently.
In regards to the Travel and Conference budget, funding is quickly depleted annually and many students are denied funding each year. She hopes to increase available funding for travel grants through either the internal reorganization of funds or a Quality Money application.
Last year, Stallcup was known for wanting to abolish Colour Night, a post-election dinner for SU election winners and their families and making that event more inclusive. Changes to Colour Night are still on the menu, but abolishment is no longer the flavour. Instead, Stallcup hopes to implement an additional celebration, potentially attached to an SU Town Hall, welcoming all students in addition to SU representatives.
Another important aspect of Stallcup’s platform is open office hours. Citing public acts of hate and the Connor Neurauter situation, she wants to ensure all students can be heard by an SU representative, even if it doesn’t fall under the umbrella of operations and finance.
Although the Briana Stallcup of 2018 seems less intent on smashing the powers that be, her fervor for making a difference for students still shines through in her new level-headed approach. If you’d like to see an SU with fewer closed doors, Stallcup is a vote with strong potential for following through on election promises.
• Vice-president operations and finance, Consent Awareness and Sexual Education Club, 2017–2018
• Director of operations and finance, Faculty of Arts Students’ Association, 2017–18
• Director of communications, Society of Undergraduates in Economics, 2016–18
After three years serving as the Student Legislative Council speaker, Rio Valencerina has the most Students’ Union experience of all candidates running for vice-president operations and finance.
Valencerina’s most interesting platform point is improving and expanding the SU Campus Food Bank. Valencerina says that since the service has been tapping into its reserve fund, it needs an overhaul. To see this through, he wants to add additional food storage space in MacHall and work with vendors and Calgary non-profit LeftOvers to minimize food waste and feed students and community members in need. The viability of this idea is questionable, but as Valencerina refers to it as his ‘pet project,’ he is likely to put his full effort behind it.
Valencerina also wants to tackle the number of candidates acclaimed to positions on Student Legislative Council, when seats are filled automatically because only one candidate is nominated. He would like to change SU policy to end automatic acclamations, saying that all candidates’ ideas should be “exposed to the scrutiny of students.”
Another of Valencerina’s platform points is addressing the lack of Indigenous voices in the SU. Saying he has received feedback on the topic from the Native Centre and Indigenous studies professors, Valencerina argues that the SU should create an Indigenous working group and to reserve a seat on SLC specifically for an Indigenous member. While the working group is a smart and feasible idea, reserving a seat directly contradicts Valencerina’s non-acclamation standpoint and could lead to other groups requesting reserved seats. While an important idea, this would require substantial policy overhaul.
Valencerina says he wants to strike a more conciliatory tone with the university administration, saying there is no need to combat with them now that the MacHall dispute is over. He cited U of C vice president finance and services Linda Dalgetty as an administrator he’d work with, but couldn’t name her job title.
Though Valencerina has the most number of years of experience, his ideas are not particularly feasible and he did not put forth a confident understanding of what the position entails.
• Speaker of the SLC
• Commissioner for oaths in and for
• Vice-president external, University of Calgary Pre-Law Society, 2016–17