How is it election time already? It seems like this year just flew by. But with a global pandemic still raging almost a year later, it becomes scarily obvious that time truly isn’t real anymore. This year has been probably one of the most difficult for university students, not only at the University of Calgary, but across the country and even the world. Student leaders were faced with looming tuition hikes, a rising unemployment rate and a global health crisis. While these issues are still very much part of the conversation for this years’ election, it also might explain the staggering number of acclamations.
It’s no secret that we’ve mentioned our frustration with the acclamation process. With all of the uncertainties of 2020 unfortunately making their way into 2021, it is crucial now more than ever that students at least get the chance to cast a yes/no vote for candidates who run unopposed. There are so many passionate student leaders that genuinely care about representing the student body, that it only seems fair if not necessary, to have these leaders interact with the everyday struggles U of C students continue to face.
Over the reading week break, our team interviewed most candidates — both acclaimed and contested — to understand more about the issues affecting the campus community. Over Zoom, we gave candidates three minutes to speak about themselves and their platform, had our team ask several questions about said platforms and then wrote up some profiles to help the student body become more informed about the candidates that they will be asked to vote for — or have foisted upon them. Although there are only four contested races this year — president, Faculty of Arts representative, Faculty of Kinesiology representative and Faculty of Nursing representative — many of the acclaimed candidates also stopped by to reach out and speak more on their ideas for the upcoming year.
Throughout the interview process, similar issues came up across the board. Students felt isolated and largely on their own this year as classes made the switch to online learning. We saw many candidates advocating for increased communication between the Students’ Union and students, as well as easier access to academic resources, work experience and mental health outreach. Advocating against the tuition increase was also a popular sentiment, but let’s face it — no student on earth wants to be paying more for some of the inconsistencies of online learning. We also heard a lot about implementing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) on campus, further outlining how important it is to recognize the systemic challenges Black, Indigenous and people of colour still face within our communities.
Student leaders had to get creative while interacting with students in an online setting, with new, and some old challenges still facing the upcoming 79th Student Legislative Council (SLC). There was no onslaught of posters covering MacHall, no wooden signs sticking out of backpacks, no quick five-minute announcements before your huge GRST 205 lecture and no big celebration at the Den to announce the next SLC lineup. But there is still the Gauntlet’s supplement, which you can read in full by clicking the links below!
Make sure you vote March 2–4 through myUofC Student Centre. Voting begins March 2 at 9 a.m. and closes March 4 at 4 p.m.