It’s been the better part of a year for University of Calgary students navigating the woes of online learning, and we are back with a weird hybrid version of an SU election. Since last years’ race, students have seemingly been dodging crisis after crisis — from the attempted privatization of the bookstore, to the exceptional tuition increases, to food insecurity on the rise and the price of housing skyrocketing. Let’s just say, it’s not easy to be a student nowadays. Oh, and did we mention the global pandemic that’s still hanging around?
Despite all of these issues, there were a number of student-led initiatives to attempt to seek change or strengthen the campus community. We saw an increase in advocacy measures from the Students’ Union (SU) this year, with more attention paid to social media outlets to reach a student population wide-spread due to off-campus learning.
However this mixed-delivery election pans out, we’re excited to see the beginnings of old traditions resurface -— like an onslaught of posters, candidates milling around Mac Hall and the general frantic energy of students giving classroom talks in the approaching voting days.
While there are still many challenges this next year of candidates must be cognizant of, there is a record number of uncontested positions. Most shockingly, all but one of the executive positions are uncontested. While the SU did vote recently on the implementation of a “yes” or “no” vote, students now have a choice between a person or a vacant position to continue to advocate for their interests.
Don’t get me wrong, this is a much better position than we were in last year, where acclamations were still accepted. However, in a year where students suffered so much, we were disappointed to see so little choice among candidates for students this time around.
With all of the growing commitment to mobilize the student body, we really thought that more people would be inclined to run for positions that have the potential to make lasting differences. Gone, we believe, are the days when we passively wait out election periods and hope the mess of posters get taken down quickly before finals season. We have seen over the past two years how student advocacy has pushed for change — however small — for struggling students.
Over the Family Day long weekend, the Gauntlet team interviewed almost all of the candidates about their platforms, why they chose to run and what differences they hope to see or make if they were to get their respective position. We have included our thoughts on these platforms as well as our endorsements, and highlighted some of the key messages these student leaders hope to take to the campus community over the next two weeks.
While we recognize that a majority of the races are uncontested, we also appreciate how difficult it is to put yourself out there and run a campaign — no matter the position. It has never been more difficult to be a student politician, and we wish all candidates the best of luck.
Voting days are March 8, 9 and 10. Voting starts at 9 a.m. on March 8, and closes at 4 p.m. on March 10 online through your myUofC student portal. There will also be polling stations located in Mac Hall, Science Theatres and Taylor Family Digital Library (TFDL).
—Cristina Paolozzi, Editor-in-Chief