The president is the main spokesperson for the Students’ Union. They oversee the vice-presidents and the SU’s strategy, operations, and employees. As president, they have a seat on the Board of Governors and General Faculties Council, and will advocate for students with the university administration and all levels of government.
Before you vote for president, I encourage you to think about what kind of SU you want to see next year. The three candidates don’t differ enormously on platform points, but where they do differ is on their overall vision for the presidency.
I think most importantly, we need a president who cares. We need a president who understands the issues, who has worked with a variety of stakeholders during their time as an executive, and who has provided thorough, effective answers when questioned by students. In my mind, that rules out Ilya Ushakov as a strong candidate for president. Throughout the race I have been disappointed by the lack of vigour in his responses, the lack of forethought in his platform, and the lack of willingness to meaningfully address issues that affect the most vulnerable among us. While I think Ushakov brings some novel ideas about a large-scale mental health framework and a reassessment of the university’s strategic plan, I ultimately don’t think he has the drive to push our campus in a strong, progressive, and focused direction.
It’s also important that the president is an effective representative of the university, both internally and externally. The president has a seat on the Board of Governors, and is involved with lots of the work that the SU does in partnership with other organizations. Reed Larsen is definitely the strongest candidate to do that external work, but I don’t actually think this is the most important quality of a president. With a strong executive team, and particularly a strong vice-president (external), the president shouldn’t have to spend all their time lobbying on behalf of students, and instead can focus more on the campus community. The president is uniquely positioned to engage students, work with marginalized groups, and build a stronger SU for the future.
That’s why I’m going to vote for Shane Scott. I think Scott really cares about students who haven’t traditionally been represented or listened to on campus. I think Scott is the candidate most likely to support the team of executives, and to help them follow through on their own projects. I think Scott will set the right tone for council, for the exec, and for campus.
Larsen would be a good president, and I think there is a very good chance that he will win this election. But I think that a strong executive team needs a leader who can bring them together, not a leader who will show them where to go. I think Scott is the leader we need this year.