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SU Elections 2020 Dissection: President

The panel said presidential candidates other than Yiming Chen lacked any memorable or standout moments

Every year The Gateway hosts a panel to determine who should and who will win in each race for the Students’ Union elections to assist those undecided on who to vote for. Our election dissection panel is here with their insights on student politics and their takes on this year’s candidates.

Opinions expressed by the panellists do not reflect those of The Gateway.

The panel

This years panel for election dissection included:

  • Victoria Chiu: current first-year law student and former Online Editor and Arts & Culture Editor at The Gateway.
  • Kevin Mpunga: second-year bilingual nursing student and vice-president (media and marketing) at the Black Students’ Association.
  • Rory Storm: U of A alumni, past candidate for Students’ Union vice-president (student life), and past president of the U of A Interfraternity Council.
Election Dissection panel 2020 uasu elections
Helen Zhang Pictured: Rory Storm (left), Kevin Mpunga(center), Victoria Chiu (right)

The candidates

Joel Agarwal, sixth-year biology student and current vice-president (academic).

Helen Zhang

Yiming Chen, third-year international student and current arts councillor on Students’ Council.

Helen Zhang

Luke Statt, fifth-year business student and current vice-president (operations and finance).

Helen Zhang

The entire panel began the debate by acknowledging the two candidates who are current executives spent most of the campaign highlighting problems, but not divulging how they would address them.

“Most of what they are saying is either a continuation of what is already being done or trying to do something that is already done in a better way,” Mpunga said. “When I think at this time, especially in this political and social climate, we need someone who is unconventional — someone who will bring new ideas.”

Mpunga added that he was particularly disappointed by the two current vice-president’s recitation of problems facing students on campus.

“I think we all generally understand and know what the problems are for the students,” he said. “For candidates to be reiterating those problems is not particularly effective.”

“Continuing with that same narrative or suggesting incremental improvements is not really something we need,” Mpunga said.

Storm agreed wholeheartedly. He suggested candidates for president focus on their particular solutions.

“We know we need mental health funding, for example,” Storm said. “What we want to know is the how, where, of you getting that funding.”

“I want solid, implementable platform ideas… that are explained well.”

Chiu said she was “disappointed” by Statt and Agarwal’s lack of ability to critique the current status quo of the Students’ Union.

“There is always room for improvement,” she said. “We always can fix or better something.”

“It just speaks to an inability or unwillingness to push the envelope and try new things,” she added. “It just doesn’t bode well for the future.”

The panel also wasn’t enthusiastic to see “a lot of overlap” between Statt and Agarwal’s platforms. Both Mpunga and Storm agreed that Statt and Agarwal should be commended for their research and preparation.

“They clearly know the problems facing students here,” Mpunga said. “I wish they had more of an enthusiasm for solutions.”

When asked if there was a standout moment or a memorable platform point about any of the candidates, the panel all agreed Chen’s idea of a feedback system was the only noteworthy idea brought forward.

For Storm, Chen presented unique ideas to engage international students beyond advocacy or involving the International Students Association. He said he hopes whoever wins, takes her ideas to heart so the Students’ Union can “better” reach out to international students.

According to Mpunga and Storm, Statt performed the best at the forums. They said his responses were better than the others overall; he lacked “concreteness” in his answers less than the other presidential candidates.

Ultimately, the panel decided unanimously that Agarwal would be the most likely to win based off of his social media presence, seeing his posters the most on campus, and for having the most effective brand. Storm noted Agarwal’s marketing is stronger than the other two contenders.

Who should win: three votes for Yiming Chen

Who will win: three votes for Joel Agarwal

Adam Lachacz

Adam Lachacz is the Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway for 2020-21. Previously, he was the 2019-20 News Editor, 2018-19 Staff Reporter, and a senior volunteer contributor from 2016-18. He is a fourth-year student studying history and political science. Adam is addicted to the news, an aspiring sneakerhead, and loves a good cup of black coffee.

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