By: Julieanne Acosta, March 4 2022 —
The University of Calgary’s Students’ Union (SU) elections are underway and the SU is live-streaming various forums for students to ask questions to the candidates.
On March 2, the SU hosted a vice-president external forum hosted by outgoing VP Student Life, Assad Ali Bik. Questions were asked to candidate Theo McHugh who is running uncontested for the role.
When asked about his general platform points, McHugh described how he wants to advocate for students and push against tuition increases and budget cuts.
“Personally, I don’t think off-loading the costs of education onto students is necessarily a fiscally responsible decision to make as students often enter the economy and are not able to fully participate,” said McHugh. “I’m looking to push more accountability at the University of Calgary as I find that the university’s governing body and teaching staff often take students for granted.”
McHugh believes that the biggest challenge facing students today is the budget increases and promises to advocate for students’ needs.
“By increasing tuition, education becomes more inaccessible for low-income students. I am the only candidate who is willing to engage proactively with the potential governing bodies of Alberta in the next four years,” said McHugh.
The SU has recently decided to pull out of the Council of Alberta’s University Students (CAUS), and McHugh affirms that despite this, he will engage with the provincial government.
“I think it comes back to engaging with current elected officials and all potential elected officials so that university students are being heard and having their needs met by a governing body,” said McHugh.
If elected into VP External, McHugh will see a provincial election during his term. He hopes to ensure U of C students understand the importance of voting.
“It’s important to have an aggressive on-campus effort to ensure that students are not only made aware of political issues, but also how important the electoral processes are,” said McHugh. “I also want to advocate for the return of vote anywhere booths on campus because I think it’s important to provide students every opportunity to participate in the democratic process.”
When asked if he had talked to previous VP Externals, McHugh said he had not reached out to any yet.
“I have not reached out to the most recent VP External, Marley Gillies,” said McHugh. “Prior to me taking on the role I plan on reaching out and talking with her about the ins and outs of the role and any difficulties she had.”
McHugh believes that his understanding of political figures at the provincial level will only help him in pursuing his goals as VP External.
“I’ve engaged with a lot of political figures at the provincial level and I understand how they think and what makes them tick,” said McHugh. “I’m ready to finally use all the knowledge I’ve built over the past years. I have a lot of professional experience. There’s barely been a day where I haven’t worked since I was 14. I have an amazing work ethic.”
In his closing remarks, McHugh reiterated how he will advocate for students and fight for accountability.
“Personally, I am excited at the prospect of being able to represent and engage with students on campus. I plan to fight tooth-and-nail for what I stand for in regards to tuition increases and budget cuts, ensuring the student voices are heard and that there is accountability on campus,” said McHugh
Voting takes place from Mar. 8–10, starting at 9 a.m. on Mar. 8 until 4 p.m. on Mar. 10. The unofficial results will be announced on Mar. 10 at 5 p.m. in the South Courtyard of MacHall. For more information on other SU election candidates, visit the SU website. To find out where, when and how to vote and watch a livestream of the un-official results, click here.