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SU Elections Dissection 2021: Board of Governors Representative

The panel was underwhelmed by Konrad's showing, but ultimately argued for representation on the Board of Governors

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 panelists do not reflect those of The Gateway.

The Panel

This years panel for election dissection included:

  • Ashlynn Chand: U of A alumni, former arts and culture editor at the Gateway.
  • Stephen Raitz: U of A alumni, past candidate for Students’ Union vice-president (student life).
  • Kelsey Fortier: second-year law student.

The candidate

Dave Konrad, a third-year environmental and conservation sciences student and current Board of Governors representative.

From the start of his campaign, panelists had questions over Konrad’s campaign and his track record over the previous year.

“I think in his pitch video, he had one of the goofiest takes,” Raitz said. “Where he was like ‘I was your BoG rep this year and I’m running again because there are still problems.’ Good, you’re passionate and want to fix these problem, but also, why didn’t you fix them during your first year?”

Over the campaign, Raitz eventually came to understand that Konrad wanted to use the better knowledge he gathered over the past year to be more effective. However, he noted some of Konrad’s communications at the beginning of the campaign “weren’t really thought out.”

Looking back at his record, Chand expressed disappointment at how Konrad handled the issues which arose at BoG, describing him as “ineffective” during his first term.

Some panelists raised concerns over specific issues emphasized at the Indigenous Student Forum, where one Aboriginal Student Council executive claimed Konrad only met with them once during the year.

“I really think [Indigenous concerns] shouldn’t be left until afterwards,” Chand said. “He needs to do better for that and, really, I don’t think he’s going to change much with the year coming.”

Another issue which stood out to panelists was that Konrad didn’t read the ARRC recommendations until partway through his term.

“The note that comes through for me is this idea that he didn’t read the ARRC recommendations,” said Raitz. “Reading them is the absolute bare minimum. Absolute. That’s crazy that he didn’t read them until [partway] through his term.”

Looking beyond his previous term and at his campaign promises, Fortier expressed reservations over Konrad’s proposal to decrease tuition increases by increasing enrolment.

“First of all, I do like that he recognizes there might not be much you can do about tuition, in terms of you might have to deal with a slight increase,” Fortier says. “Increasing enrolment, I have massive problems with.”

Specifically, Fortier believes the issue with tuition isn’t that it’s too high but that the education students receive “isn’t worth the money.” According to her, this perception is worsened by larger class sizes and limited interactions with your professors, all aspects which higher enrolment would enlarge, rather than resolve it.

“I think that increasing enrolment, especially given some of those crazy lower level classes and many people are already in them, you’re actually going to make the tuition problem worse.”

However, Fortier did see promise in Konrad’s promise to hold podcast conversations with board members to get their perspectives on important issues. She believes this could help increase transparency around BoG.

When considering concerns over his track record and platform, panelists considered whether students should vote none of above for this race. At one point, Chand asserted it might be better to have no one serve as BoG rep but she wasn’t sure if this was realistic.

For Fortier, this is the real consideration voters will make when casting their ballots. From looking at previous BoG rep races, she believes there’s rarely a time where the position should remain vacant.

“I feel like this race, as a question, realistically comes down to: how bad can someone be as a candidate and still have them worth being in the role compared to no one?” Fortier asked the panel.

“I’m inclined to say we can’t penalize him for [past mistakes] because we need someone on BoG so desperately bad. “

Who should win: three votes for Dave Konrad

Who will win: three votes for Dave Konrad

Mitchell Pawluk

Mitchell Pawluk is the 2020-21 Opinion Editor at The Gateway. He's a fourth-year student majoring in political science and minoring in philosophy. When not writing, he enjoys reading political theory, obsessing over pop culture, and trying something new!

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