Yesterday’s International Students’ Association forum opened with a pitch from candidates. Stephen Raitz said there are unique needs for international students and touched on the negativity of tuition and rent increases. A forgettable carbon-copy of everyone else. Andre Bourgeois brought up the work he’s done with UASU Events, which include the popular Bollywood Night at Dinwoodie. His ideas on collaborating with cultural student groups are a step in the right direction, and they do have visible impacts, but the rest was, sadly, also forgettable.
What stood on its own was Michelle Kim’s heartfelt and visibly emotional speech on how she’ll fight for international student representation, and her experiences as one herself. It was informative, touching, and most importantly, it put forth her qualifications and tangible actions, including holding other execs accountable when dealing with international students’ concerns.
Kim’s speech was powerful on the platform points alone. Living through the international student experience just shows she has an extra dimension of understanding. Kim finished with “do not vote for me because I am an international student. Vote for me because I am the most qualified candidate.”
Despite Campus Saint Jean’s relatively small size, student turnout at the CSJ forum was high and they voiced their concerns loudly. They really did give a shit, as opposed to those present at the past two SUBstage forums where students tried not to die from boredom. CSJ students spoke on deferred maintenance, feeling alienated from North Campus, apathy from SU execs, and the lack of SU-run Francophone events.
The lack of French skills didn’t stop anyone in the vice-president (student life) race from addressing key gripes though. Kim showed she’s highly knowledgeable in residence issues — one of her strongest attributes — including the ones at Residence Saint-Jean. When asked about the particular issue of new-but-still-crap electric doors that routinely lock people out, Kim was the only candidate who knew the ins and outs of the problem. However, she didn’t really deliver concrete actions besides advocating on behalf of CSJ students. This is an area where Kim could do well if she mixed information with actions.
Raitz was also strong in this forum and brought up a unique idea of trying to get North Campus students to CSJ and that side of Edmonton. Candidates in this race often seem like they’re saying the same thing, so unique ideas are a godsend. Sadly, Raitz’s emphasis on “streamlining” services like room booking and data collection came off as important but bland in their delivery. It’s disappointing not seeing Raitz use his high energy and pep to stand out. You can either be an outsider who stands out or an outsider who is identical to everyone else. The latter is boring.
Andre Bourgeois killed it at this forum. Bourgeois was sharp and upbeat, especially when candidates were asked how they’d deal with North Campus’ apathy regarding CSJ events. Bourgeois’ rightfully said it wasn’t his place to tell CSJ what events CSJ should have, but to work with faculty associations to bring them events they’re excited about and could share with the entire U of A. This would include SU driven peer-to-peer advertising, social media campaigns, marketing, and giving other required resources. The crowd seemed pleased and Bourgeois rightfully addressed the very valid point that North Campus doesn’t seem to give a shit about Campus Saint-Jean.