April 30 marked Colour Night this year — a celebration to welcome in the newly election Students’ Union (SU) representatives for the upcoming school year.
This years’ festivities took place over Zoom, as the members of the 79th Students’ Legislative Council (SLC) took their oaths and began the transition process.
After the last roll call of the 78th SLC, Semhar Abraha, outgoing vice-president academic, announced the recipient of the Exceptional Student SLC Award, returning Faculty of Arts representative Fayo Abdi.
“This year has been extremely challenging for all of us as student leaders, but our SLC obviously excelled at advocating for students and shedding light on the ongoing disparities and challenges faced by all students this year,” Abraha said. “Honouring one person tonight doesn’t mean in any way that each and every one of you did any less in advocacy.”
Abraha mentioned that Abdi “worked tirelessly to shed light on matters that would otherwise go unnoticed.”
Next, was the recognition of the SU’s Honorary Membership, which was awarded by outgoing SU president Frank Finley. This year’s honorary membership went to Chima NKendirim, the SU’s vice-president external from the 1993-94 academic year.
“Instantly, there are people who show you how much they care for students, how much they care about the rights of students and Chima is one of those people,” Finley stated.
“The Students’ Union holds a really special place in my heart,” remarked NKendirim. “When I look back, back in 1994 — which is really a long time ago — I remember we were fighting the good fight, causing lots of good trouble, fighting for students.”
MKendirim remembers fighting for students on issues like budget cuts and tuition increases during his tenure on SLC, and jokes, “I’m glad to see lots has changed since that time.”
“I can say without a doubt that the skills that have allowed me to succeed in my career are really skills I developed at the Students’ Union. For the new incoming SLC, you’re really going to embark on an extraordinary journey to change and impact student’s lives and your community,” continued NKendirim. “And for those who are departing, I know you are going to have a tremendous impact in your community and I know you’re going to look back when you’re my age at your time with the SU and realize what an extraordinary experience it was.”
After these awards were recognized, the newly elected members of the 79th SLC took their oaths of office. These oaths were completed in segmented groups with representatives unmuting themselves in order to be officially welcomed over Zoom.
After the oaths were completed, welcoming remarks were made by the incoming president Nicole Schmidt, who commended the outgoing SLC and highlighted some of the reasons why she decided to run for this position.
“As we all know already, in a year fraught with a global pandemic, a transition to an entirely online learning format and alongside a multitude of COVID-induced challenges, the SU was led by student leaders who were not only able to adapt to those difficult circumstances, but also make great progress in a year where otherwise this might not have been possible,” Schmidt began.
“One of the reason that I decided to run this year was because I was incredibly excited to see the progress that had been made by all of our student leaders over the past 12 months, as well as the positive impact the SU seemed to have on the experience of University of Calgary students this past year,” she continued. “Students don’t want to feel disconnected from their Students’ Union anymore. They expect more from their elected officials, as we saw repeatedly this year. Students truly want to have their feedback and their advocacy concerns heard and acted upon, and I’m looking forward to continuing this transparency and engagement into the next year.”
Lastly, closing remarks were made by Finley to wrap up the evening. He stated that his time serving as SU president saw many accomplishments for student advocacy, but maintains that, “having any sort of power is useless on its own — it is what you do with it that matters, and I would like to think that we have used our power well this year.”
“Interesting times aside, it has been a great honour to serve as your SU president,” said Finley. “The end of my term is bitter-sweet for me, but I know Nicole will do us all proud — I can’t think of anyone else I would rather be succeeded by.”
Finley went on to state some of the important work the SU has done over the course of the past year, but says that it is the changed perception of the SU by students that he is most proud of.
“What I am most proud of this year is the resurgence of support and confident in the Students’ Union. This year we have watched as perception of the SU has shifted dramatically, from apathetic and critical, to a fundamental belief that we are the champions for student rights at the University of Calgary,” he concluded.
To see the full list of elected representatives on the 79th SLC, click here.