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.
When I was in my first semester at U of C, I stood in front of hundreds at a town hall, and asked our university’s president to resign. The university was embroiled in a number of scandals, from corruption, to extravagant spending, to attempting to steal MacEwan Hall from student ownership.
An investigation later found the then university president, Dr. Cannon, had violated academic freedom and engaged in activities that constituted a major conflict of interest. Two years later, President Cannon did resign, and while I am doubtful I had much to do with it, I have no regrets for calling out administration for their lack of moral or ethical backbones.
I mention this story because I think it says something about me; that I am a fighter, and that I am not afraid to demand people be held accountable for their actions. I will not stand for wealthy, powerful people attempting to use their clout to crush students and enrich themselves.
In the past years of student life, I have fought for students. As a Faculty of Arts Representative and a Board of Governors Representative, I co-founded a scholarship that provides $6000 a year in financial relief and successfully fought for more halal and vegetarian options in SU businesses. This year, I have lobbied for youth engagement through a non-profit I founded, and have organized protests and direct action against provincial post-secondary budget cuts.
I have also seen the halls of power, having worked in the Legislative Assembly of Alberta and the previous Alberta Premier’s Office. Being in these political spheres made me realize how ineffectual so many advocacy efforts are. That when it comes down to it, most governments only fundamentally care about winning the next election. Often the only method that is effective in advocacy is creating political pressure.
I suppose it is important to mention that I am not wealthy — I have $30,000 in student loans, and know what it is like when money is tight. While I feel very lucky to be here, I fear the rising cost of tuition will prevent many of my peers from attaining an education.
I am running because the status quo at the university or Students’ Union cannot continue, and I believe we must fight for something better, together.
I am not in this for a reference, or to make friends with administration and government. I am in this to stand up for students and to create a lasting student movement that can ensure our voices heard.
Simply, I do not believe it is radical to expect that students should not go hungry when completing their education.
I do not think it is radical to think students should not be forced to choose between tuition and a roof over their heads.
I do not think it is radical to expect that government should not engage in the draining of public institutions through chaotic and short-sited policy.
And if these things are radical, then so am I.