2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

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VP External forum sees acclaimed Marley Gillies committed to community engagement

By Danise Simpelo, March 1 2021—

In light of the Students’ Union General Election occurring this week, Marley Gillies returns as the newly acclaimed vice-president external for a second term. During the VP External forum, which took place on Feb. 24, Gillies shares her platform for this coming year.

In comparison to her platform from last year which was more focused on municipal, provincial and federal advocacy, Gillies has shifted her focus towards general themes that revolve more around student involvement at the University of Calgary. 

“I hope to accomplish specifically engagement with UCalgary students, amplifying student voices and standing up against the cuts,” said Gillies.

In response to the changing environment for students as a result of the pandemic, Gillies stated that she has chosen to run for a second term because of her experience building and rebuilding relationships with students which needed to shift online. Due to this, she has gotten a good picture of the steps that need to be taken in order to support UCalgary students both now and after the pandemic period. With changes in the student atmosphere last year, Gillies states that the SU learned to quickly transition and adapt to what the new world looked like for students. 

With platforms for students completely shifting to an online format, Gillies stated that she is continuing to connect with students and their concerns despite being at a distance.

“Adapting to the circumstances, to the climate, to students’ voices and their asks specifically, has been a great learning experience,” Gillies said.

With the release of the United Conservative Party’s Budget 2021, Gillies was not hopeful for the results. Gillies responded by saying that the biggest issue facing students right now are the cuts to post-secondary education by the provincial government, “and as a result, students’ tuition and fees going up.” 

“Universities are the hub of innovation, they can help create jobs and help diversify the economy,” continued Gillies. 

In her position, Gillies’ goal for this year is to have students aware of the importance of organizing protests and information sessions in response to the actions of the provincial government. Gillies acknowledges that this was not accomplished last year, but notes that she made the best of the situation.

“We’ve found very creative solutions around that with the snow penguins outside of the legislature and outside of MacDougall Centre,” Gillies said, referencing the 300 snow penguins placed across the steps of the McDougall Centre earlier this month.

In continuation of her outreach to students, Gillies states that the most valuable experience is through real-life student connections. She hopes that social media and the creation of a CJSW radio show dedicated to SU advocacy will give students insight into the work she does — like her experiences meeting with MLAs, MPs and city councilors. 

Overall, Gillies is hoping for the opportunity to talk to more students as she feels that students are more involved than ever. She has faith in connecting with students despite the challenges the pandemic has given. 

To find out more about her platform, click here for more details. Voting takes place online March 2-4 through your myUofC Student Centre.

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