By Mitali Pradhan, March 4 2020—
During the vice-president academic candidate forum on Feb. 25, Semhar Abraha and Burak Can Kodaz both spoke regarding their platform and ideas for the following year if elected. The aim of the forum was for students to see candidates discuss their platform and to demonstrate their understanding of the portfolio and responsibilities of what is one of the most complex positions in the Students’ Union.
Starting off, Abraha was the only one on stage and commented on her platform focusing on active academic outreach, improving academic resources, and enhancement of undergraduate research. She delved into her experience of working on other platforms advocating for students and the usefulness of that experience for the role of vice-president academic. Abraha stated that the largest institutional challenge is a lack of awareness towards undergraduate research which ranges from lack of knowledge regarding the evaluation of grants to lack of attendance at the research symposium.
If elected, Abraha plans improvements in several areas. She plans on connecting the various clubs across campus by hosting meetings with the vice presidents of each club to obtain input. In addition, Abraha mentioned the lack of awareness regarding academic violations. She wants to work on teaching students what these violations are and how to avoid them.
After the administrator had gone through half the questions pertaining to Abraha’s background and platform, the second candidate, Kodaz, walked up to the stage. Kodaz stated he was late due to a confusion in the time of the forum.
Kodaz, a fourth-year student at Haskayne School of Business, stated that he wanted to improve experiential learning, expand case competitions, and improve USRIs. Kodaz said while he does not have specific experience himself working with mental health, he will definitely do his best to connect students to appropriate resources and contact counselors.
“I want to focus on students at large rather than minorities,” stated Kodaz.
Upon being questioned by students in the audience, he clarified that he meant that he wanted to bring resources to all majors across faculties rather than focus on specific faculties while restating his aim for inclusivity.
The candidates were given opportunities to critique each other’s platform. Kodaz questioned the feasibility of Abraha’s aim of having Open Educational Resources. Abraha responded by questioning if Kodaz knew anything about Open Educational Resources.
“Can you tell me what Open Educational Resources are?” she questioned.
Once he defined the subject to her satisfaction, Abraha stated that there is nothing difficult regarding securing Open Educational Resources and that this is a topic that would likely be supported by students.
Both candidates were given opportunities to give concluding statements. Kodaz reiterated that when he joined University of Calgary as a high school graduate, it ranked 166 among global universities and today it is in the 230s. During the five years of his time at U of C, it dropped almost 50 places on the list. He is motivated to solve the numerous issues which are responsible for this drop and to help students at large.