2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Illustration by Valery Perez

SU hosts VP OpFi forum, the only contested executive race

By Sophia Lopez, March 3 2022 ––

The University of Calgary’s Students’ Union (SU) elections are approaching and this week the SU is hosting various forums for students to get to know their potential elected officials. 

Yesterday, Mikail Hendi, the outgoing vice-president operations & finance, moderated the VP OpFi forum where the three candidates were given a platform to speak and answer questions regarding their goals for the upcoming term if elected and what students can expect from them.

Rafael Sanguinetti, the outgoing Cumming School of Medicine representative, discussed how as VP OpFi his main goal would be to get the best financial deal possible for students based on the results of this year’s referendum, as well as fighting for the bookstore to become an SU business.

“I want to ensure that no matter what students decide on this referendum that they are getting the most comprehensive coverage possible for their health and dental needs,” said Sanguinetti. “I would like to work on continuing to pressure the university –– privatization of the bookstore is not something that students want, it’s not something that will benefit students’ pockets.”

Matthew Herring, an outgoing Faculty of Arts representative, explained how his main goals include providing money for faculty associations to use in order to better assist and advocate for students, and to provide students with an affordable food program to tackle food insecurity among students.

“My participation in the Faculty of Arts Student Association this past year has shown me just how important these student bodies are –– they’re often the first place that students go when they face academic or accessibility issues, as students look up to them for assistance,” said Herring. “I want to look into creating a food cooperative to give students food without causing them unnecessary financial strain while fitting within everyone’s dietary restrictions.”

Taimur Akhtar, an outgoing Schulic School of Engineering Representative, outlined how his main goals include improving campus spaces through Quality Money applications, and continuing the progress of a committee of faculty associations which was started by Hendi. 

“It’s important that the university and the SU work with all faculties,” said Akhtar. “I know in previous years the relationship between the SU and individual faculties has not been as strong, which definitely means that the creation of this committee is vital for our coming years.”

Sanguinetti believes that there is a lack of student engagement with the SU, and to improve it, he hopes to create more student-at-large seats on SU committees and create penalties targeting faculty representatives and elected officials who fail to submit reports or submit empty reports.

“On one hand, the SU has not seen as much student engagement from the student body that it has in the past but I don’t think this is necessarily due to COVID,” said Sanguinetti. “I think that the reason that there’s sort of a lack of student engagement is because there’s also a lack of SU accountability for representatives.”

In order to advocate for sustainability issues as VP OpFi, Herring believes that making sure students are fed is the first step towards creating a more sustainable campus environment.

“Sustainability isn’t exactly just an environmental thing, but it’s also just social and keeping our students fed,” said Herring. “A healthy and fed student population will then be able to help create a more sustainable campus as a whole.”

With the VP OpFi position being one that heavily focuses on policy, Akhtar explained how he is most excited to work on creating committees for individual faculties as a way to increase student engagement.

“Generally speaking, the SU doesn’t involve itself with organizing or facilitating any committees at the individual faculty level,” said Akhtar. “I think the SU should be involved at the individual faculty level, I think we should be able to make committees for individual faculties that that may need it.”

Overall, the candidates share the similar goal of fighting against the privitization of the bookstore and making it an SU business, but they also each plan on executing unique ideas if elected. Sanguinetti plans on holding faculty representatives and elected officials accountable for their actions, Herring hopes to create a food cooperative to help feed students at a reasonable price, and Akhtar wants to improve campus spaces for students.

Voting takes place from Mar. 8–10, starting at 9:00 a.m. on Mar. 8 until 4:00 p.m. on Mar. 10. The un-official results will be announced on Mar. 10 at 5:00 p.m. in the South Courtyard of MacHall. For more information on the VP OpFi candidates, and other SU election candidates, visit their platforms on the SU website. To find out where, when and how to vote and watch a livestream of the un-official results, click here.

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