2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Photo edited by Mariah Wilson; photo courtesy of Creative Commons

SU election supplement 2021: Acclaimed executives

Vice-president academic: Renzo Pereyra 

The vice-president academic is responsible for improving the academic experience and promoting undergraduate research. Their job mostly consists of sitting on committees, meeting with various members of university administration and administering programs like the Teaching Excellence Awards and Undergraduate Research Symposium.

Remember that one election where some first-year student ran for president? Well, that student would be Renzo Pereyra, and he’s back — this time securing the acclaimed position for vice-president academic. 

On his previous experiences running in his last SU election, Pereyra jokes he learned that “SU politics is not high school politics.” This past year saw Pereyra reflecting on what it was he actually wanted to accomplish if elected to an SU position, which in his platform for vice-president academic, is outlined in four major points. 

His point regarding student re-integration sees Pereyra planning for a future circumstance in which students come back to in-person learning. While he mentioned in his interview that he is planning to take the vice-president academic’s portfolio digital, Pereyra also wants to advocate for blended learning options for students who may still want to continue online after the university opens up again. 

A common, if not cliché, platform point that is often placed on the vice-president academic’s to-do list, is continuing to advocate for Open Educational Resources (OERs). Pereyra wants to introduce an Open Educational Resources working group to work in tandem with the Library Resources Team. Pereyra explains that the primary role of these working groups are to raise education and awareness, citing that there was initial excitement when OERs were first announced, but buzz surrounding this resource for students has died down.  

Pereyra is confident in his abilities and has learned tough lessons from his previous experiences with SU politics. His goals are clear, and he maintains advocacy for resources that are increasingly important to students.

Vice-president external: Marley Gillies

Photo of Marley Gillies. // Photo courtesy of Ryan Robinson.

The vice-president external is the Students’ Union’s representative to municipal, provincial and federal governments. They are also the primary delegate for the many umbrella lobbying organizations the SU takes part in. Vote for the candidate you think can hold their own in a meeting with cabinet ministers or city councillors.

With three years behind her working in the Students’ Union, Marley Gillies brings with her the experiences of an Arts representative, as well as the things she learned from advocating during a global pandemic. 

Gillies plans on bringing the external role to the forefront, and wants to “make a CJSW radio show specifically dedicated to advocacy.” Gillies explained that social media outreach can’t be the only method of communication between her role and students, and says that she wants another way to promote her advocacy as, “the most powerful arguments and presentations that I can bring come right from students.” 

Gillies also mentioned that this year she will be running a Get Out the Vote campaign for the upcoming municipal election, which will have to be run mainly virtually. Gillies explains that this campaign will be much different from others as it will be structured for an online setting, and run through the Calgary Student Alliance (CSA), which Gillies is chair of.

“We’re doing a lot of the leg work now, and we are planning mayoral debates, city councillor introductions for each ward,” she says, in order to maintain a smooth transition.   

Marley Gillies is looking to continue the advocacy work that she started last year, and has adapted her platform to reflect her experiences from her past term. She has a solid plan to ensure that these ideas are acted upon. 

Vice-president operations and finance: Mikail Hendi

The vice-president operations and finance is responsible for the Students’ Union’s budget, SU policy and the fiscal operation of  their businesses in MacHall. They also chair several SU committees.

Mikail Hendi is an acclaimed candidate in the vice-president operations and finance position. Unfortunately, his platform doesn’t seem to align with the responsibilities of the role and are better suited for the vice-president student life portfolio. 

A student-run food co-op is a nice idea, but there is already a food bank run by the Students’ Union. His energy should be going toward bolstering the campus food bank.

Hendi is correct in that Bermuda Shorts Day will become an issue again in 2022 if students return to campus and some thinking about how to reimagine this does need to happen, which Hendi is prepared and equipped to do.

A lot of candidates promise more democratic procedures in the SU, but Hendi should recognize that student leaders are elected to govern and they’ve been given a mandate to do just that. Ensuring communication and consultation would have been a better way to frame this platform point.

There was also no mention in the platform about the vendors in MacHall who have faced significant challenges as well as the Den and Black Lounge that fall under this position’s purview. These businesses are a significant revenue source for the SU and there needs to be a plan in place to ensure that SU vendors are able to thrive when the university returns to in-person activities again.

His main goal of “accessibility of the SU” falls short of the advocacy necessary to help students during a challenging year. His platform suggests minimal familiarity with the actual role of the VP OpFi.

Vice-president student life: Assad Ali Bik

The vice-president student life is in charge of student clubs, events like Orientation Week, Frostbite and Bermuda Shorts Day, as well as mental health and overall student wellness initiatives. Pick a candidate who understands all parts of the portfolio and is enthusiastic about campus life.

Assad Ali Bik is acclaimed and will be continuing in the vice-president student life role for a second term. Disappointingly, he did not interview with the Gauntlet to discuss his plan, so we’re basing our analysis on his posted platform.

Ali Bik is extremely focused on equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives and made significant progress in this area in his first term. He’s one of the few candidates who has Indigenous engagement as part of his platform — another very necessary action item on campus.

Ensuring a strong and functional Residence Students’ Association is part of his platform and something that is very needed. 

His plan for Dinos’ Athletics is to “connect Dino athletes to Senators.” We’d like to see some more focus on how to ensure that the many student athletes are supported in their return to campus — and their return to sports. There also needs to be a focus on connecting the overall university student population with the athletic program and ensure attendance at games improves.

Ensuring student consultation when dealing with Bermuda Shorts Day is important as many on campus have strong feelings about their end-of-year celebration. Ali Bik has been excellent in the area of student consultation and it’s nice to see him continuing down this path.

Overall, students are getting an excellent executive team member in Ali Bik.

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!

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