Throughout the Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) forum and the Augustana forum, relationship building between campuses and the Students’ Union has been a major issue. As Augustana and CSJ go through unique challenges, they want now more than ever to see the SU listen to their concerns and fight for them.
In the vice-president (operations and finance) or VP Ops-Fi race at CSJ’s forum, both candidates overstated their platform commitments made to the campus. Despite saying otherwise, these candidates seem to be thinking of Augustana and CSJ as an afterthought.
To give credit where it is due, Emily Kimani does include these campuses throughout her platform and she has committed to meeting with student leaders and organizations on these campuses once a month. She promises to translate the SU’s website and its services into French. She promises to push for free menstrual products on these campuses and make services available outside of North campus.
However, during the Campus Saint Jean forum, she discussed the all-gender bathroom project and promised to advocate for a renovation and help find financing for the project. Kimani said this is in her platform when it is in fact not in her platform. This could be an honest mistake, as in her platform she does mention gender neutral washrooms in the Myer Horowitz Theatre renovation. However, this was the first time I’ve heard of this CSJ washroom project in her campaign so far. It seemed like supporting it was a big statement to make when it was not in her platform.
Candidate Julia Villoso has been focused on making her platform highly realistic and feasible as she wants to end the tradition of broken promises at the SU. While not making empty promises is a noble cause, it should not be at the expense of leaving entire groups of people you are representing out of the picture.
Her platform has a gaping hole where Augustana and CSJ should be and there is no specific mention of either campus. The closest her platform gets to these issues is a promise to create a Francophone category in UASU Cares, an online wellness directory, which would benefit students at CSJ. She has previously mentioned bringing Francophone therapists to the SU at the first candidates forum, but it is not in her platform and she has not since raised this idea.
When asked at the forum at CSJ about the absence of these other campuses in her platform, she said that she has focused on French translation in her platform and making services available online. Her priority has been to put access to services at the forefront of her platform and she doesn’t want these campuses to come off as an afterthought.
Additionally, at the Augustana forum VP Student Life candidate Daniela Carbajal mentioned that a goal of hers is to work with the VP Ops-Fi to help the Augustana Students’ Association in their goal of opening a campus pub. This is in her platform and as a Augustana student herself, she is especially in tune with the needs of this campus. Neither VP Ops-Fi has mentioned this project themselves and helping finance such a project would fall under their portfolio.
These campuses are often an afterthought until their forums roll around, then candidates are quick to make promises and show their new found commitment to them. And unfortunately for this year’s VP Ops-Fi candidates, this appears to be the case. They have both acknowledged that Augustana and CSJ have their own unique problems and need to be more of a priority, but they lack the forethought that would reflect this in their platforms.
Platforms reflect the priorities of a candidate and it’s hard to trust them when what they say at forums doesn’t line up with their platforms, or when they leave people out of their platforms entirely.