It’s that time of year again. Posters are plastering the walls, self-important student politicians are interrupting you on your way to class and there’s a guy standing in the front of your economics lecture dressed like Woody from Toy Story. It feels like the first snow of winter.
We love the Students’ Union election, which is one of the reasons why we make this supplement that you’re currently reading. Just like how all these folks are passionate about serving the student body and bringing change to campus — or getting that sweet resumé line — we’re passionate about informing students about who’s running, what they want to do if they’re elected and how likely it is that they’ll actually get those things done.
On Family Day weekend, we compiled a panel of our staff, cleaned the office, put on some nice clothes for once and interviewed (almost) every executive and Board of Governor representative candidate in this year’s SU election. Each interview follows the same format: We give each candidate up to five minutes to pitch their platform, then spend 10 minutes asking them questions. After that, we write up these little profiles to help inform students about the crowd of candidates.
There’s a number of pressing issues at the forefront of this year’s election, but the biggest theme is change. Upcoming provincial and federal elections could mean significant political shake-ups both in Alberta and throughout Canada. Plus, new University of Calgary president Ed McCauley is settling into his job. If there’s any time to push for change external to the SU, it’s now.
Beyond that, issues surrounding Open Educational Resources, Bermuda Shorts Day, MacHall redevelopment, policy reform, long-term financial stability for the SU, mental health and sexual violence are all central to one or more of the contested positions in this election. These are things that affect all students and SU elections have a significant impact on how those issues are handled. It’s your electoral duty to elect competent officials to represent you. Take that responsibility seriously.
In addition to the elected positions, this year also has a referendum for increasing the SU Volunteer Services fee from $0.75 to $1.50 for full-time students per semester. You can read our thoughts about that in our editorial at the front of this supplement. We’ll also have news coverage of the referendum throughout the campaign period online at thegauntlet.ca.
Don’t just read our candidate profiles and endorsements. Read the candidates’ submitted platforms on the SU website, attend some forums — or the Gauntlet’s presidential debate, taking place Feb. 28 at 2 p.m. in
MacHall’s Cassio A/B — and ask candidates questions yourself.
And make sure to vote through your myUofC student centre from March 5–7, ya turkeys.
The vice-president academic is responsible for improving the academic experience and promoting undergraduate research. Their job mostly consists of sitting on committees, meeting with various members of university administration and administering programs like the Teaching Excellence Awards and Undergraduate Research Symposium.
Kevin Dang is acclaimed as vice-president academic.
Dang is an experienced SU executive and has been a fixture on multiple committees. During his time as vice-president operations and finance, he was able to expand the refugee student board and increase the number of students-at-large. Dang says he wanted a new challenge and is excited to learn the ins and outs of the vice-president academic role.
The strongest and most realistic part of his platform involves a further expansion of the Undergraduate Research Symposium. He would like to establish it as a premier, week-long research conference on campus and expand student participation from non-traditional research disciplines as well as obtain more funding. Dang has experience with symposiums like these and is well-equipped to make good on this piece of his platform.
He acknowledges that the role of VP academic can be largely office- and meeting-based but hopes to regularly engage with students. Dang is personable and well-spoken — qualities that make his goal of student outreach very attainable.
Dang says he looks forward to elections and would have preferred a contested race. But, as the current VP operations and finance, he would have been in a charge of changes to elections policy to have made that happen. He claims that the SU simply could not have implemented the ‘yes/no’ vote in time for this year’s election and that “research and prep” is being done.
With the University of Calgary ready to bring on a new vice-president research, Dang is in a unique position to bring some of his platform points regarding increased funding to fruition.
Overall, Dang is informed about the issues facing students and has a solid understanding of the way the SU operates. He is a safe VP academic — don’t expect anything life-changing.
• SU vice-president operations and finance, 2018–19
• SU science representative, 2017–18
• Science Undergraduate Symposium task force chair and project lead, 2017–18