This is an important year for student government. Tuition increases, budget cuts, performance-based funding models and mental health are all at the forefront of student minds. The Gauntlet has worked hard to expand our election coverage this year. That means we’re trying a few new things. So, we offered space in our opinions section for each executive candidate to give our readers their sales pitch.
The candidates were able to write about whatever they wanted in 500 words for vice-presidential candidates and 1,200 for presidential candidates. Why are they running? Who are they? Why should you vote for them? Their platforms are posted online. We strongly encourage you to read them and decide on the candidate that you believe best represents your needs as a student.
Today, our candidates for vice-president student life are presenting their case to you. Pieces have been edited to conform to Canadian Press Style, but their words are presented as-is.
My name is Georgia East, I am currently in my second year of the two year after-degree Bachelor of Education program, specializing in Elementary Inclusive Ed. Before starting at UofC I attended University of Guelph-Humber where I received my Honours Degree in Family and Community Social Services and my Social Service Work Diploma.
My first year of University was one of the most challenging years of my life. I really struggled with my mental health and was very ill. I give the Students Union, IGNITE Student Life, the majority of the credit for getting me through my undergrad. During my second year, I accessed mental health services, but more importantly I joined clubs. SU Clubs gave me a community of people who loved and supported me and wanted to help me through the challenges I was facing. I soon became an executive outreach member of the Humber Embassy and captain of the Humber Showcase Dance Team. My club involvement helped me to gain a position as an events assistant at IGNITE. Working at the SU, I was surrounded by a group of strong, accomplished women, who supported one another and were doing incredible work for students. I was inspired every day by my co-workers and the incredible individuals I got to meet through this position (Iskra Miller, Sophia Bush and Hasan Minhaj to name a few!). The SU believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself and I wouldn’t be where I am today without this incredible organization.
When I arrived at the University of Calgary I quickly realized that students here did not have the same relationship with the SU as I did. I was shocked by how much work the SU was doing to support students as academics but how little they were doing to support them as people. This is a major concern with our current governance and it’s time to take a stand and change the narrative.
Coming from a smaller faculty, it has been suggested that it will be difficult for me to engage with students. This may be true, however I feel this is why it is so important for me to run. Our current Students Union programming does not benefit or accommodate students in professional faculties. Professional faculties may be small, but their experience is no less valid. We cannot meet the needs of students if they are not adequately represented and we cannot have a Students Union that supports all students if a single faculty has a monopoly on our leadership positions.
I firmly believe I have the knowledge, skills and passion to be a strong leader for students. I am running to be vice-president student life to be a voice for the students who are commonly overlooked and ignored. I want to assure that academics, governance and student experience are equally valued. Most of all, I want to support and inspire students in the same way that the Students Union has always supported and inspired me.