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SU election supplement 2020: endorsements

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or the most hated, depending on your point of view.  Posters plaster the walls, the science link tunnel turns into a giant fire hazard, student politicians hand out candy in exchange for your time listening to their spiel and awkward clapping ensues every time someone gives their pitch at the front of your classroom.  

We love the Students’ Union election, which is one of the reasons why we make this supplement. The candidates are passionate about serving the student body and bringing change to campus and 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 and interviewed (almost) every candidate in this year’s SU election. Each interview follows the same format — we gave each candidate three minutes to pitch their platform, then spent 10 minutes asking them questions. After that, we write up profiles to help inform students about those running.

This year, we heard more than we ever wanted to about CASE competitions — it seemed many of the candidates have the idea to expand their use to multiple faculties. Thankfully, we didn’t hear nearly as much about food options as we have in previous years, or grandiose, sweeping promises to renovate MacHall and student spaces. 

We also heard plenty about mental health. It’s an issue that many students care deeply about and feel isn’t being addressed on campus. Some candidates seemed to throw it in their platform as a buzzword to pay lip service to an important issue, while others clearly thought very deeply about it.

With significant cuts to education happening and recent tuition increases, this year it is more important than ever to vote for the representatives you feel can best advocate for student interests. The vice-president external will be integral in bringing the student voice to government.

The vice-president student life will have to deal with the ever-present BSD, the albatross that hangs around the neck of the portfolio. It’s an unenviable position to be sure. 

This year, we interviewed candidates for faculty representative positions as well. We felt it was important to expand our coverage. Student elections are important, and as campus media, we play an important role in bringing you the information. If we can play any part in bolstering voter turnout, that makes us happy. We did not discuss the Senate race as we have a conflict of interest and we have not featured acclaimed candidates. Look to our website and future issues of the Gauntlet in print to read about these positions.

Don’t just read our candidate profiles and endorsements. Read the candidates’ submitted platforms on the SU website, attend some forums and ask candidates questions yourself. Make sure to vote through your myUofC student centre from March 3–5.

Kristy Koehler, Editor-in-Chief

President: Abstaining.

I moderated the presidential debate and will be abstaining from endorsements in the interest of fairness to the candidates.

Academic: Semhar Abraha.

Abraha’s platform is more well-rounded.

External: Colson Buchanan.

This was an incredibly tough decision. You can’t go wrong with either candidate. Gillies is well-suited to walk into the position with no real transition needed, but Buchanan’s tenacity won me over.

Student Life: Assad Ali Bik.

Another tough choice. Georgia East’s desire for a multi-sensory room was the best idea I heard all day, but Ali Bik’s platform is more broad and far-reaching.

Arts Rep.: Justin Gotta, Rody Visotski and Caitlin Hornbeck.

Gotta represents a wide variety of voices on campus and a lot this year. He’s poised to be a fantastic leader on campus and deserves a second term to continue his excellent representation of arts students. Hornbeck and Visotski both bring passion and well-researched platforms and are worth a vote as well.

Medicine Rep.: Pranav Khosla and Jasleen Brar.

Khosla is easily the most qualified and Brar’s platform was actionable and well thought-out. A summer UPASS needs to be brought to the students who do research on the Foothills campus and Khosla is the one to get it done if anyone can. Brar brings representation of an underrepresented degree program yet has plans to integrate the whole faculty.

Science Rep.: Manpreet Sahota and Stanton Thai.

Sahota is easily one of the best reps to ever sit on SLC and deserves a second term.  Her passion for her faculty and her tireless work never cease to amaze. Thai’s platform and demeanor impressed me.

Business Rep.: Aly Samji and Shagufta Farheen.

Samji gave an incredible interview — I’m absolutely buying what he’s selling. I believe he’d make an impactful difference in Haskayne. Farheen would be a good complement.

Nursing Rep.: Jonah Feng.

Feng provided one of the most impressive interviews out of any candidate in any position. His understanding of the issues, experience and his well-researched plans blew me away. He’s as close to a perfect candidate as you can get.

Aymen Sherwani, Opinions Columnist

President: Quinn Stevenson.

It is really clear that Stevenson leads his campaign with his heart. When combined with his simple yet coherent platform, his genuineness to do better for the student body, reflected through his previous personal experiences, make him an exceptional candidate.  

Academic: Semhar Abraha.

It was hard to make a decision here.  Abraha has a robustly written platform. It is more representative of the student body as a whole, in contrast to that brought forward by her Haskayne-centric competitor.

External: Colson Buchanan.

Buchanan has a comprehensive plan to take action in continuing the ongoing advocacy against issues like tuition hikes and mental health. 

Student Life: Georgia East.

East’s pre-existing work for multi-sensory rooms proves that she is a candidate who walks the walk, and is passionate about bettering student life on campus. It’s not every day you see a platform that isn’t simply talking points.  

Medicine Rep.: Pranav Khosla.

Khosla amalgamates the individual issues brought forward by other candidates running against him and details a reasonable course of action to execute them, which is why I believe he’s the most competent candidate for this role. He also kind of reminds me of a baby version of Naheed Nenshi, so I guess that means something right? 

Business Rep.: Aly Samji.

Business gets a bad reputation for being cut-throat, power-hungry and a little in your face. That was evident in the other two candidates, but not Samji, who has placed an emphasis on first-year mentorship programs, and proper access to mental health resources for struggling business students. He was the only candidate who won me over with both his platform and his exceptionally considerate aptitude.  

Nursing Rep.: Jonah Feng.

Feng understands the collective struggles of Nursing students and actually has a platform that goes above and beyond mental health days which his competitor is limited to. Don’t get me wrong, yoga with baby animals is great, but I don’t think it’ll offset the cost of NCLEX practice exams, which Feng is advocating to subsidize. 

Cristina Paolozzi, Opinions Editor

President: Abstaining.

I’m declaring a conflict of interest in this race and abstaining from an endorsement. 

Academic: Semhar Abraha.

Abraha clearly understands the role of VP academic, as she is the only candidate in this category who specifically mentions the use of Open Educational Resources and the maintained support of undergraduate research in their platform.

External: Abstaining.

I’m also abstaining from endorsing this race due to a conflict of interest.

Student Life: Georgia East.

East is the only candidate here with past SU experience which I think is crucial coming into a new school year navigating the recent tuition and fee increases. 

Arts Rep.: Caitlin Hornbeck, Brandon Eby Rody Visotski and Malika Qurishi.

What I like about all of these candidates is that they have provided key focuses in their platforms that are relatively attainable for the upcoming school year. Hornbeck’s emphasis on sustainability is a platform point that often gets neglected in these faculty rep positions.

Medicine Rep.: Pranav Khosla and Labiba Nawar.

I was so impressed with Khosla’s campaign during the by-election, and I’m so happy to see him back in the general election! Khosla’s platform suggests a summer UPASS for students in CSM who are engaged in research, which is intriguing. Nawar’s point to introduce a career fair is also a great opportunity for students looking for specific jobs within their field, and she also serves as a great representative for CRDS. 

Science Rep.: Manpreet Sahota, Pragya Chopra and Stanton Thai.

These three candidates for science rep are focused and determined for the year ahead. 

Business Rep.: Aly Samji and Shagufta Farheen.

Fareen has a detailed platform which speaks to mental health advocacy and mentorship programs. Samji would do a good job advocating to students regarding the recent tuition increases.

Engineering Rep.: Bharat Uppal and Juan Sanchez Higuerey.

Out of all of the candidates, Sanchez is the only one who addresses a plan for open communication and advocacy regarding the tuition increases. Uppal has previous experience in the Engineering Students’ Society, which is a positive thing for his focus points on mental health.

Frankie Hart, Humour Editor

President: Frank Finley.

Students will be well off with either Finley or Stevenson as SU president, but Finley’s bigger emphasis on using political pressure on the provincial government capture’s what I’m looking for as a student.

External: Colson Buchanan.

Buchanan has a lot of exciting, well-defined goals. It would be great for students if he was able to replace STEP.

Academic: Semhar Abraha.

Abraha’s platform is more relevant and well-suited for the position. 

Student Life: Georgia East.

Though I wish East had more to offer as far as a vision for BSD, the rest of her ideas prove that she’s well-researched and would be competent in the position.

Arts Rep.: Brandon Eby, Caitlin Hornbeck, Rody Visotski, Malika Qurishi.

These candidates displayed the best understanding of what the positions entail and what they could do as representatives.

Gayathri Peringod, News Editor

President: Abstain.

Due to a conflict of interest of working closely in the past with two of the three candidates, I can’t comment on this race, much to my dismay. Best of luck to all candidates!

External: Colson Buchanan.

While both candidates are experienced and have detailed, actionable platforms, Buchanan’s innovative plan to replace the Summer Term Employment Program by working with the university administration distinguishes him from his opponent.

Academic: Abstain.

Being good friends with one of the candidates, I have a conflict of interest with this one. Best of luck to all candidates.

Student Life: Georgia East.

 Georgia East stands out in this category, with plenty of experience, clearly established goals and an enthusiasm for her work that I wish I had for my life. Students can vote for her safely knowing that she will do her best to better their social life.

Arts Rep.: Abstain.

I have a conflict of interest here because I work quite closely with one of the candidates in my club. Best of luck to all candidates!

Science Rep.: Stanton Thai, Pragya Chopra and Manpreet Sahota.

Stanton Thai has clear, established goals and vows to continually work with students to learn about what’s most pressing in his faculty, while Pragya Chopra promises to keep you updated on scholarships and career opportunities and Manpreet Sahota plans to use her past year’s worth of experience as a Science rep to effectively advocate for students’ wants to the Students’ Legislative Council. Combined, the three will be a force to reckon with.

Medicine Rep.: Labiba Nawar and Pranav Khosla

Labiba Nawar and Pranav Khosla all the way! Nawar serves as a great advocate for the Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies in the faculty, and Khosla has established himself as a capable and enthusiastic candidate when he ran in last fall’s byelection, only proving himself further by running again this election.

 Nursing Rep.: Jonah Feng

Of the two candidates, Feng’s platform is more detailed and specific, with implementable ideas and a demonstrated willingness to effectively advocate for the students in his faculty.

Business Rep.: Shagufta Farheen and Aly Samji

Shagufta Farheen and Aly Samji, with their combined interests, seem all set to effectively advocate for students within their faculty. While Farheen’s platform is more internally focused, Samji plans to advocate for his faculty on an external front to the administration and beyond. Together, they are a great fit for the mandate of the Haskayne student reps.

Engineering Rep.: Juan Sanchez and Nabeel Amjad

Amjad has the clear, actionable plans on improving the mental and academic lives of students in his faculty, while Sanchez has the demonstrated passion and enthusiasm in effectively advocating for his faculty to Students’ Legislative Council and the campus administration.


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