Confident, knowledgeable and passionate, Colson Buchanan is close to an ideal candidate for vice-president external. With an impressive list of work experience from campus organizations such as the Clubs Office and FASA, Buchanan is demonstrably reliable and effective as a student representative. Aware of the most pressing issues that the vice-president external faces — namely tuition hikes, a fragmented and disjointed student voice on the provincial stage, and cuts to infrastructure and maintenance funding on campus — Buchanan recognizes the need to unite student dissent and lobby government, although openly admitting his inexperience in directly lobbying government officials in a refreshing display of honesty.
When asked how he would consult students during his term, Buchanan responded that one of his key platform points is creating an Advocacy Engagement Task Force, which will continually consult students on what the most pressing issues are on campus. His secondary goal to create a provincial student congress to unify provincial student lobby groups is laudable if achieved. However, it remains to be seen how he plans to unite lobby groups with conflicting values, such as the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and the Alberta Students’ Executive Council (ASEC), the latter of which openly supports the UCP’s post-secondary education budget. Despite his insistence that student groups in the province can all unite under similar interests, he has yet to present an incentive for groups like ASEC to do so.
Much like other students running for office, Buchanan plans on replacing the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP), which was cancelled late last year. His plan to lobby the UCP on the provincial level to rescind its earlier decision and reinstate STEP seems unlikely. However, his method of going about it on the municipal level — advocating the university to continue pursuing its own STEP replacement program with local industry — is far more realistic and achievable than other campaigners, and is an innovative political strategy to give U of C students with the same opportunities as STEP without attempting to reinstate the program as it was.
Overall, Colson Buchanan puts an impressive foot forward, coming across as reliable, meticulous and unafraid to be inventive in his political strategy.
Marley Gillies has a plan, and a good one. Her platform is organized into the levels of government she would be working with in order to advocate for student interests.
Municipally, Gillies wants to work to continue the implementation of the UPASS into the second phase of the electronic transit fare system. In order to do this, she’d need the full advocacy power of student groups behind her, but it is feasible if she uses the right avenues. While many people will focus on the provincial government this year, Gillies understands that focusing on consultation on the municipal level is important in the long-term.
Gillies has a strong knowledge of the challenges facing students on all levels of government. She is aware that the role of vice-president external is arguably the most important position in the SU right now, especially with the cuts to post-secondary education.
She wants to have a larger presence on campus than her predecessors have in the past, believing that students are engaged right now owing to the political climate. She wants to use her platform to keep the students informed and helping them to rally around causes and get things done.
Gillies believes that the most important issue facing students right now is the implementation of performance-based funding. She plans to demand a voice in the consultation process, which might be easier said than done. Still, it’s necessary to try.
A major selling feature of Gillies over her competitor is her internal knowledge of the SU. She has been taking in knowledge for the last two years from the sitting vice-president externals and the transition would be easier for her than for Buchanan. She is also aware of what is and is not achievable with regard to her platform. She has been a vocal advocate and an effective representative for her faculty, delivering on most, if not all, of her platform points in this year’s term. The drawback to Gillies also rests with her SU experience. She has represented the Faculty of Arts for two years, making her potentially too focused on arts students. She is, however, aware of this and promises to be aware of any potential silo thinking.
Gillies has a well thought-out platform and would be able to step right into the role, something that is sorely needed right now. She has a personality that enables her to work with all levels of government and university administration in a professional manner that gets things done. Overall, she is a solid choice for vice-president external and there’s no doubt she would put in the work necessary to advocate for students.
Remember, the supplement constitutes the opinions of our panel — it’s important that you read the candidate’s platforms on the SU’s website, interact with those running for positions, ask questions and make up your own minds about who deserves your vote!