Presidential candidates flambéd over what they’ve done for Campus Saint-Jean
The two presidential candidates discussed their achievements for Campus Saint-Jean students as current executives, and whether their campaign materials were translated or not.
Current vice-president (student life) Andre Bourgeois said that the Students’ Union, as it stands now, is not doing enough for Campus Saint-Jean students. If elected, he said he would consult with the faculty association at Campus Saint-Jean, l’Association des Universitaires de Saint-Jean (AUFSJ), before executive term goals are drafted to ensure their concerns are represented. He added that he has worked with Campus Saint-Jean’s residence association, l’Association des Résidents de la Faculté Saint-Jean (ARFSJ), and would ensure they were included in future advocacy.
“Every year, promises are made here at this microphone,” Bourgeois said. “And they are all good ideas… The real problem is that many candidates have been lying to CSJ for years about things they… can’t achieve.”
He added he would reduce Students’ Union membership fees for Campus Saint-Jean students. Bourgeois, a sixth-year sociology student, said this type of reduced fee is already extended to Augustana campus as they cannot access all of the Students’ Union services. Further, he said Campus Saint-Jean students are right in saying the Students’ Union “is not worth it” for them.
“Augustana pays a reduced Students’ Union fee, and you should too,” he said. “The Students’ Union shouldn’t charge you full price for you to bus 30 minutes to North Campus for a service that is only available in English.”
Akanksha Bhatnagar, the other candidate for the position and current vice-president (academic), said she listened to Campus Saint-Jean students and delivered results to them during her tenure. She said she heard concerns about the lack of quality in the education program, the fact that Campus Saint-Jean students can only major in five out of the 13 science fields, and that business courses could not be transferred to degrees at North Campus.
“Candidates come and make promises, and they do not always deliver,” Akanksha said. “But as your vice-president (academic), I did.”
Bhatnagar, a fourth-year sociology and political science student, added that she brought all these concerns to the university’s General Faculties Council, the highest academic decision making body, and to respective deans.
“Quality of education should not change just because you are at a different campus,” she said. “Why should students pay the same tuition but not be offered the same… programming?”
Bhatnagar went on to say that she would continue representing Campus Saint-Jean if elected president.
Both candidates were questioned on their decisions to either translate or not translate their campaign materials, like their posters and platform, into French.
Bhatnagar responded that she translated all her materials, and provided them on day one of the campaign.
“I translated my documents into French because I care about the students here,” she said. “It was not a lot of effort, because it was the right effort a president should be making.”
Bourgeois acknowledged his materials are not available in French. He made no mention if they would become available in French at some point. In addition, he mentioned that his platform actually addresses Campus Saint-Jean concerns while his opponent’s did not.
“I do not know many people who speak French,” Bourgeois said. “In my opponent’s platform, you will find CSJ not even mentioned once.”
— Adam Lachacz
VPX candidates discuss best way to advocate for Campus Saint-Jean
The two vice-president (external) candidates answered questions about what they will do to advocate for Campus Saint-Jean to the government.
Candidate Adam Brown, the current vice-president (external) and former president of AUFSJ, spoke throughout the forum almost exclusively in French.
Brown, a fourth-year bilingual business student, said the Students’ Union has “completely ignored” Campus Saint-Jean and that their concerns need to be taken seriously, both federally and provincially.
“When the Minister of Advanced Education and the Minister of Tourism, Official Languages and La Francophonie tells me that CSJ shouldn’t worry about funding, those words don’t tell me anything, because we need actions,” he said.
Opposing candidate Robert Bilak, current arts councillor and third-year political science student, said French organizations like AUFSJ need to be incorporated into the Students’ Union’s advocacy efforts. He added there is a need for access to more services in French at Campus Saint-Jean, such as scholarship application interfaces and mental health resources.
“Similarly, [it is important to offer] language-based equity funding to make sure CSJ can expand it’s enrolment and get new students to ensure that education of students in French continues throughout Alberta,” he said.
When asked what their biggest priorities in advocating for Campus Saint-Jean students are, Bilak said he would start by finding out what is needed. However, he said if he was to decide, he would address mental health funding in French.
“I would say mental health funding [is a priority], ensuring that you have access to a councillor that serves students here that you can access in English and in French,” he said.
Brown said his main priority is getting funding from both the provincial and federal government. The current debate about how much funding will go to Campus Saint-Jean, he said, was supposed to have already been resolved. He added that he would continue to push the government if elected.
“We need that funding for more classrooms, more professors, more classes, more majors and minors so that students can have success at CSJ and not feel like they can only be successful at North Campus,” he added.
— Kate Turner
Supporting Indigenous students and Campus Saint-Jean events discussed by VPSL candidates
Issues of setting up a committee to translate documents into French, fostering collaboration with the students’ association at Campus Saint-Jean, and plans to support Indigenous students dominated discussion for the three vice-president (student life) candidates.
Candidates were asked about efforts last year to set up a committee for translating Students’ Union documents into French. Candidate Rory Storm, a sixth-year drama student and former president of the U of A Interfraternity Council, said he didn’t know much about the committee, but that he wants to interact more with students at Campus Saint-Jean to learn about the issue.
Candidate Shuaa Rizvi, a fifth-year science student and current science councillor, also said she was not aware of the plan to set up this committee. Rizvi added that she wants to collaborate with Campus Saint-Jean to provide translations in the future.
Candidate Jared Larsen, a fourth-year business student and current president of the HUB Community Association, said he will work to have documents translated for Campus Saint-Jean, and create a Students’ Union resource and facilities guide available in multiple languages including French.
“I think there is an excellent opportunity to engage with [CSJ] and have these documents translated,” Larsen said. “Getting these documents translated and available to the students at large is essential and that will happen if I am elected.”
Kali MacDonald, current vice-president (internal) of AUFSJ, asked the candidates how they would work with AUFSJ in the future, Storm emphasized the importance of introducing grants to help student groups at Campus Saint-Jean set up their own events.
Larsen said he wants to have more meetings with AUFSJ to coordinate their needs. Rizvi said she wants to work more with AUFSJ and make big events on North Campus like AntiFreeze more accessible to students at CSJ.
“In my platform, one of the biggest things is promoting a positive campus community,” Rizvi said. “At North Campus we have big events, but it’s not always easy for students from CSJ to get involved in those events because it’s so far. If we can organize large events on CSJ and have students from North Campus come here, then we could have a better community for everyone.”
Katherine Belcourt, the president of Aboriginal Student Council (ASC), asked candidates how they would support Indigenous students on campus if the ASC Dedicated Fee Unit (DFU) were to pass or fail this election.
Rizvi said she would implement the 10 recommendations the Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee came up with this year.
Larsen said he would support ASC in their effort to handle the funds and potentially implement an Aboriginal gathering space at Campus Saint-Jean. If the fee does not pass, Larsen said he would work to increase funding for Indigenous students living in residence.
Storm added that it’s necessary to provide more grants for Indigenous students, so that they can fund their own events.
“I’m not Indigenous, but the best way I can help passionate Indigenous students create more events is to support them through financial means,”
— Faramarz Jabbari-zadeh
SUB renovation fee to happen, but with more student consultation, says VPOF candidate
Uncontested vice-president (operations and finance) candidate Luke Statt received questions regarding how he intends to deal with renovating the Myer Horowitz Theatre and his plans with the Campus Saint-Jean cafeteria.
Statt, a fourth-year business student and current business councillor, said he intends to reduce the cost of food at Campus Saint-Jean, and that he wants to look into having the Myer Horowitz catering service provide food to the cafeteria.
Arts councillor Deirdra Cutarm asked Statt how he will deal with renovating the Myer Horowitz Theatre after two failed attempts, referencing both the Student Events Initiative in 2018 and the student spaces levy in 2019. Statt said a fee will be required one way or another, but students will be the ones choosing what that fee will be and what it goes toward.
“I’m not going to be the one making the decision on what it looks like,” Statt said. “It’s going to be students this year. In the end, it’s not going to be my idea, and that’s why it’s not in my platform.”
In response to a question regarding incentives for students bringing reusable dishes to businesses in the Students’ Union Building, he mentioned similar techniques currently exist in some businesses like the discount for bringing a travel mug to The Daily Grind. Statt said this could be implemented at the Campus Saint-Jean cafeteria if it were run by the Students’ Union.
When asked how he would improve marketing of Students’ Union businesses to Campus Saint-Jean, Statt said he wants to translate the student services catalogue into French. The catalogue is currently being worked on by Emma Ripka, the current vice-president (operations and finance), and will outline all the services provided by the Students’ Union.
— Olivia DeBourcier
Sole VPA candidate also asked about Indigenous students and Campus Saint-Jean
Uncontested vice-president (academic) candidate Joel Agarwal was asked what he would do for the programs at Campus Saint-Jean, as well as what he would do for Indigenous students.
In his introduction, Agarwal, a fifth-year biology student and science counsellor, opened by addressing the academic issues at Campus Saint-Jean and his plans to bring the BeBookSmart fair to the campus.
Agarwal was asked by Aboriginal Student Council president Katherine Belcourt what he would do for Indigenous students within faculty associations and student groups if the proposed ASC Dedicated Fee Unit fails.
In response, Agarwal spoke about having a blanket exercise for students in different faculties, as well as working with the Students’ Union’s Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Committee (ARRC) to act on their recommendations.
“I, as a non-indigenous student, don’t necessarily understand all the issues, but I think again relationships and communications are really important,” he said.“Whether that’s taking the ARRC recommendations, implementing the appropriate ones in faculty associations, that is something I will be encouraged to do.”
Earlier, Agarwal was asked if he knew which programs at Campus Saint-Jean need the most support. He said he didn’t know which programs specifically, but said he would work with AUFSJ, and talked about a collaboration fund for student associations that Campus Saint-Jean will have access to.
“I can’t speak specifically about which programs need the most support but what I will be dedicated to doing is working with AUFSJ,” he said.
— Haley Dang
Aboriginal Student Council acknowledges past distance from Campus Saint-Jean, vows change if the fee is passed
Nathan Sunday, a third-year native studies student and “Yes” side manager of the ASC fee referendum, said they have not worked much with Campus Saint-Jean in the past.
“Although all of the services of Aboriginal Student Council are available to students at CSJ, this is nowhere near enough and in my opinion is a cop-out,” he said.
Sunday said if the opt-outable $1.00 per term fee was passed, ASC would co-operate with Campus Saint-Jean leadership to provide Aboriginal cultural events and educational opportunities on the French campus.
Sunday was also asked by Dierdra Cutarm, an arts councillor and former ASC president, how the awards and scholarships would be determined, whether Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students would have a separate adjudication process, and whether ASC executives would be excluded from the awards.
In response, Sunday said there would be a separate committee for awards but have not yet determined whether there would be two separate processes for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal students. He added that ASC executives will be excluded from the new awards and that they will be deliberated by a committee of people from ASC, First Peoples’ House, and the Students’ Union.
“We want to make sure that we are as transparent as possible and not just the executive of ASC choosing the awards,” he said. “So definitely, there will be that third party where we would like equal representation from ASC, First Peoples’ House, and the Students’ Union.”
— Yar Reech
Board of Governors representative promises change
Rowan Ley, the uncontested Board of Governors representative candidate, was asked few questions, but spoke about recent budget increases passed by the university.
During his introductory speech, given in French, he talked about that fact that the administration doesn’t listen to students, especially CSJ students, which have caused decisions that are “not acceptable.” To address these issues, he suggested changing the governance system.
“I will fight to have a board that is more open, so all students can see the Board of Governors via livestream, so you don’t have to go 30 minutes to North Campus to hear what the university will do with your money,” he added.
In a question from the audience about the increases in the cost of meal plan, residence and international student tuition, Ley was asked how he felt about these increases.
He said he was “very upset” about the increases, and went on to elaborate what he would do about it. While it would be unrealistic, he said, to prevent any increases, making a strong business case about why raising rates is a bad idea is a good option.
“I hope we can get those kind of changes that are beneficial for students by speaking to administration in their language, and giving them a business and financial case that explains to them why what’s good for us, is good for them,” he said.
— Kate Turner