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.
Attending university was always a dream of mine. A dream I assured myself I would never see. When I was 15, I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, which helped to explain the struggle I was going through. I stopped going to school and maintaining my responsibilities, due to the loss of interest in my life. My parents tried everything to help me through, but I just couldn’t see any light. Every day was a burden. When I dropped out of school my parents had to make a hard decision and stopped supporting this counterproductive behavior. They told me to leave and figure my life out. At the time I was resentful and couldn’t believe their decision. I ended up living anywhere I could, friends’ houses, and even youth shelters. I spent many days wandering around downtown Calgary, waiting for the shelters to open to have my next meal. Just trying to survive. There came a point where I realized the path I was on, and how I had to make better decisions to live a more prosperous life. I found long term shelter in group home facility and found full time work. Many times, I would dream of going to university, but as a high school dropout living in a group home It seemed far too out of reach. However, my friends told me of a school that could accommodate my full-time work schedule and help me graduate. I started attending school again and was able to move out of the group home at 17. Eventually, I received my diploma at age 19. However, I still didn’t have the grades for University. So, I kept working and decided to upgrade, and at the age of 21 I was accepted into the University of Calgary, which still is one of the best days of my life to this day.
Why am I sharing this story with you? Because, I never thought I would see a day in university, it is dream come true for me. I wanted to get the most of this experience as possible, so I ran for the Students’ Union as an arts representative in my first year and won. With the resources at the SU I was able to use my past experiences to help better the lives of others. I created a mental health scholarship, and did classroom talks to spread the knowledge of the mental health resources on campus. I used my struggle to motivate myself to help others going through similar experiences, as I believe no one deserves to feel how I felt those days.
After my first year at the SU, I wanted to continue building programs to help other people get the most, and enjoy their university experience, so I ran to become the President. I tried my hardest, and still lost. It was a difficult experience for me, and I tried to remain positive throughout it. I started looking for other opportunities, and became VP education for my long-term club, Bear Necessities which focuses on homeless advocacy. I also joined the Canadian Armed Forces Reserves as an Armored Officer to further develop myself and leadership skills. With these new opportunities, I was hesitant on whether I wanted to run for President again or not. Part of me said no, but I reminded myself I haven’t quit up until this point, so why start now? If I am to become president, and represent the University of Calgary, I am going to face hardships from the university administration, the Provincial Government and many more. I can’t quit then either.
Due to my past experiences, and the struggle I went through, I want to use it to benefit others. The Students’ Union offers an incredible amount of resources to help me put my vision of a better university in place. I am going to advocate against tuition increases, as university is already far too inaccessible for everyone. I am going to demand transparency from the university to make sure our tuition isn’t going to highly paid administrators. I am going to fight the mental health lack of funding to make sure students that are suffering get the help that they need. I am going to fight the delayed maintenance at the university and look at additional revenue streams to create a more revitalized campus. I am going to do everything I can to get marginalized communities on campus, in the consultative process, and apply their experiences to create a more accommodating campus for all. I am going to lead the Students’ Union in a positive direction that reflects the student body’s needs.
University has always been my dream, and I want to use this opportunity to make it yours too. Voting is March 3 to 5 and remember Quinn to Win!