By Cristina Paolozzi, October 10 2021—
The Students’ Union (SU) is holding a by-election for several different positions, one of which is the Faculty of Social Work representative. The Gauntlet sat down with Coleson Proudfoot to talk more about his platform and what he plans to do if elected to the position.
A third-year student of social work at the University of Calgary, Proudfoot is in his first semester at the university, obtaining his diploma from Mount Royal University. Proudfoot was the president of the Social Work Students’ Association for the last two years, and said that it was the community that drew him to pursue the SU’s representative position.
Although historically this position is usually vacant, Proudfoot celebrated that there is some competition this time around as it shows social work students are passionate about their faculty.
“This is the first time there’s been two candidates since at least 2017,” he said. “So that’s, I think, actually a really good thing — more representation, more options for voting is better than none at all.”
Proudfoot said that he is most excited about his platform point on community building. He has noticed the disconnect between students and the faculty, as well as the disconnect between peers in the program. Like him, students are entering this program from different educational backgrounds, so establishing a sense of community is a priority for him this election.
Proudfoot also mentioned that although his platform is relatively niche, as a faculty representative he understands the limited time and resources these positions have to make lasting change.
“I don’t really believe in having a big platform as a faculty rep,” he said. “I think that, first and foremost, I should be championing whatever people want me to be representing for them instead of me deciding ahead of time what I want to accomplish there.”
Proudfoot mentioned that getting student perspectives and hearing student concerns is difficult within the faculty, as there are still students who are learning remotely — some of whom aren’t yet in Canada. He intends on hearing student voices and concerns by introducing a newsletter for students, updating them about the topics of discussion at the Students’ Legislative Council (SLC).
“There’s some people in my online classes that are in Nigeria right now doing their classes,” he said. “Right now I think the best way for me to communicate what’s happening at the Students’ Union to the people in my program is by having a running newsletter so that people can also go back and see what has been happening. I just want to be a very clear and direct communicator to try to simplify messages.”
As a Disability Support Worker, Proudfoot also advocates for increased accessibility for students navigating the campus. While accessibility and accommodation are often popular platform points, Proudfoot assured that his experiences helping students who use wheelchairs around campus will keep this platform point front-of-mind.
“I’m pushing someone in a wheelchair going up and down the hills, having to go the long way around all the time,” he said. “Because that is part of my life, trying to access campus from that perspective, I don’t think I’m going to forget about it.”
One of the ways he plans to raise more awareness for these accessibility changes is to have people in decision-making positions at the university access campus in a wheelchair themselves.
“I want them to reflect on that experience and give this campus a grade to see where they think they’re at, because it’s not really something that people think about a lot.”
Proudfoot’s platform is strong and speaks directly to some of the key concerns and feedback he’s received from students in the faculty. He is realistic in his campaign goals and would provide the faculty of social work with effective student advocacy.
Online voting in the SU by-election will take place Oct. 13–15 and can be done through the myUofC Student Centre. Voting begins at 9 a.m. on Oct. 13 and closes at 4 p.m. on Oct. 15. To learn more about Coleson Proudfoot and his campaign, check out his and the other candidates’ platforms online. All undergraduate students registered for the Fall 2021 semester are eligible to vote.