By Jason Herring, February 27 2018 —
The first forum for executive candidates in the 2018 Students’ Union general election took place in the MacHall courtyard on Feb. 27. The three vice-president operations and finance candidates — Kevin Dang, Briana Stallcup and Rio Valencerina — answered questions from current SU VP operations and finance Ryan Wallace, as well as audience members.
The forum kicked off with short statements from each candidate, who all reiterated their platform points. Stallcup, who also ran for the position in last year’s election, addressed her loss.
“I’ve taken the criticisms I faced from last year to heart and I’ve matured a lot,” Stallcup said.
Wallace’s first question to the candidates concerned the management of MacHall over the upcoming year. The SU recently reached an agreement with the University of Calgary that makes the U of C the sole owner of the building while the SU manages it, starting on May 1. Valencerina said that he recognizes the U of C’s ownership and wants to build a relationship with administrators.
“Working with the university, I think it’s worth developing more of a relationship with them because they are still the owner,” Valencerina said.
Dang said he wanted to “champion students’ voices” on the Joint Liaison Committee, which will be the governing body for MacHall and will feature three members of both the U of C and the SU. Stallcup said that she believes the MacHall dispute was caused by a “lack of advocacy” and said she doesn’t want the SU to be in a similar position again.
Wallace also asked candidates to express what they believe to be the most important part of the VP operations and finance job. Valencerina said working within the SU’s governance structures mattered most and Stallcup cited allocation of student funds. Dang thought his role charing SU committees was the most vital part of the role.
“If those committees function well, the rest of the organization functions well,” Dang said.
A theme throughout the forum appearing in multiple audience questions pertained to increasing student engagement with and misconceptions about the SU. Each candidate said their platform plans for integrating students into the VP operations and finance role, with Stallcup and Valencerina wanting to connect with students outside of the SU circle in-person. Dang said he wants to make opportunities for students on committees more accessible and develop policies that take student involvement into consideration.
The candidates took part in a lightning round, where Wallace asked a series of true or false questions and candidates answered with paddles, and a speed round, where candidates vied to answer questions about the SU quickest.
Stallcup faced a question about how to get other members of the SU on board with her plan to replace Colour Night, an annual SU transition event, with another event. She said she plans to have open conversations with other elected officials about her reasons for wanting to replace the event.
“I’ve thought this through for over a year now and I think I have a response to anything anyone could have a concern with,” Stallcup said.
Valencerina was asked about his platform point that focuses on having more Indigenous voices in the SU. He responded by saying that his solutions would include forming an Indigenous Working Group and finding a way to appoint or elect an Indigenous representative to Students’ Legislative Council.
About 30 students attended the forum. Voting days for the 2018 SU general election are March 6–8. Students can vote through their my.ucalgary.ca page or at in-person voting booths.