Illustration by Samantha Lucy

The issues students should watch for from each executive position in the 2018 SU Election

February 20, 2018 —

Every March, University of Calgary students elect a new student government during the Students’ Union general election. Ambitious and eager candidates put forward their ideas and platforms for the year ahead, which range from the most pressing issues on campus to bringing certain fast-food chains to MacHall. SU executives have the opportunity to meaningfully effect change on campus and their $40,000 salaries reflect that responsibility. Though far from an exhaustive list, here are some of the most important issues we think you should keep in mind during the upcoming election.

The U of C’s next president:

The new SU president-elect, Sagar Grewal, will sit on the committee that searches for the next U of C president, following Elizabeth Cannon’s surprise resignation last month. Now that the MacHall lawsuit is resolved, this is arguably the most important task facing Grewal when considering the U of C’s long-term future. He is our most powerful voice behind closed doors and will hopefully consult students on what they want the next U of C president to accomplish. Cannon’s term was filled with scandal and left much to be desired. Grewal should develop a plan to ensure the new U of C president will respect the autonomy of the SU. We congratulate Grewal and wish him the best of luck!.

The 2019 elections:

The SU vice-president external advocates to all levels of government on behalf of students. They represent students’ perspectives to political leaders on important issues such as mental health funding, tuition rates and deferred maintenance. With elections at both the federal and provincial levels in 2019, the VP external will have their work cut out for them. Alberta’s upcoming election will likely be contentious, meaning students must make their voices heard. The VP external often puts their efforts towards a “get-out-the-vote” campaign during election periods. These include ensuring election information is available and that students have access to voting stations on campus. Students should look for someone with political knowledge and a coherent plan to advocate and influence policy during and after the elections. Every vote will matter in 2019 and students should vote for leaders who understand that. Look for someone that has students’ best interests in their platforms — whether that involves tying tuition to inflation, increasing financial aid or creating more student employment opportunities.

The URS:

The Undergraduate Research Symposium is a unique annual event held by the SU for undergraduate students. Over the years, various faculties have voiced concerns over barriers to access the symposium, which the SU has justified by the small number of applicants from certain faculties. The faculties of education, arts and business have been vocal in regards to problems with the URS and it’s time for the VP academic to address these issues. This won’t be an easy task, but it’s one that’s essential for undergraduate researchers. Furthermore, the VP academic is responsible for securing the funding for the awards available in the symposium. Since this is the largest platform undergrads have to showcase their research at the U of C, they should seek increased funding to make structural changes to the URS possible. While the VP academic is responsible for a large portfolio, students should look for someone with a clear plan to address these barriers.

Policy development:

Current SU VP operations and finance Ryan Wallace is reviewing the health and dental plan after use of the plan surpassed the budget for the past two years, which was covered by the health and dental reserve fund. The next VP operations and finance should continue this review and create an adequate solution to stop dipping into the reserve fund. Since they will chair the Policy Development and Review committee, students should also seek someone with a knack for policy development and strong collaborative skills who can work with and listen to multiple perspectives and develop responses to issues that satisfy all sides. Students should look for someone who is open to exploring new ideas and understands the impacts of their decisions on students.

Campus culture:

As for VP student life, students should look for someone with a passion for activism. Through exploring issues like mental health, sexual violence and student safety, the VP student life can have a big impact on campus culture and student wellness. Students should find out what candidates think are the biggest issues impacting campus life and what their ideas for remedying them are. A candidate that understands the social implications of their decisions would be the best bet for this portfolio. The VP student life can embark on projects with immediate and lasting impacts on students’ lives. Make sure they’re a strong leader with an understanding of the issues currently facing students.

Tina Shaygan, Gauntlet Editorial Board

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