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SU Elections Dissection 2021: Vice-President (Student Life)

The panel agreed both candidates were good but one's policy work stood out from the other

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:

  • 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.


Daniela Carbajal, a third-year psychology student and the Augustana councillor on Students’ Council.

Pia Co

Talia Dixon, a third-year student double majoring in women’s and gender studies and political science and an arts councillor for Students’ Council.  

Pia Co

When examining the campaign, the panel began by acknowledging both Carbajal and Dixon had a record of being outspoken on issues that matter to them.

“This is one campaign where I don’t think we have to be concerned about status quo candidates with either of them,” Fortier said. “But that reshapes what you have to do to be worthy of winning. To me, who’s the most radical and who is going to stand up for students the most is probably a bit of a wash here.”

Fortier attributed this assessment to both candidates’ understandings of current problems with the SU, as they’ve elaborated on in their forum performances.

“I think they’re both really strong candidates,” Chand said. “This race is always my favourite race…there are just so many things that are so relevant.”

Looking at the overall performances of both candidates, Raitz felt Carbajal was running a more “negative” campaign than Dixon. He specifically brought up an example of Carbajal discussing how other SU executives were running on “personal agendas,” without any explanation what these personal motives were.

“It might be coming from a somewhat fair place of a lot of students being disengaged with the SU,” Raitz said. “But to focus on it negatively and be like ‘there is this huge issue, I hate the issue and I want to fix it’…I think a more positive campaign would go further.”

In comparison, Raitz believed Dixon ran a better campaign and remained more positive throughout the race. Fortier agreed that Dixon had a stronger campaign, saying that while both candidates understood the problems facing campus, Dixon more often brought up policy initiatives to address her concerns.

“[Dixon doesn’t only point out the problems, she actually identifies a lot of the solutions,” Fortier said.

Looking at promises from the candidates, the panel felt both Dixon and Carbajal could improve on their plans for residencies. Specifically, looking at the cost of residency, Raitz expressed a desire to see candidates push harder against the unaffordable cost of living.

“This is an area of the portfolio where I would almost want to see candidates get more radical,” Raitz said. “[Candidates should] be like ‘is residence serving the purpose it’s meant to service? Is every single student who enters the U of A able to afford residence?’ Because right now, that is absolutely not the case and it hasn’t been the case for awhile.”

Other panelists echoed this sentiment but Chand also recognized how difficult it is for candidates to plan for residencies in the midst of a pandemic, given the uncertainty of the next year.

“It’s a hard one to really talk about. Is there even a point in having residence if everything is remote? Should students be risking coming here, taking COVID back, or picking up anything, just so you can sit at a computer and study for eight hours in an empty room?”

Overall, the panel believed Dixon’s multi-year involvement in student governance and with other activist organizations in town helped her finalize her platform and will likely put her ahead in this race.

“I don’t think [Carbajal] is ready now,” Chand said. “Maybe next year. Her platform still needs a little more work… I think she has good ideas, I think she needs to work on really fine tuning them.”

Who should win: three votes for Talia Dixon

Who will win: three votes for Talia Dixon

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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