VPA candidates differ in level of preparation for Campus Saint-Jean forum

On the first day of Students' Union elections forums, one vice-president (academic) seems unprepared for the upcoming election.

This article expresses opinions based on the Campus Saint-Jean Forum of the Students’ Union 2022 Election on March 2, 2022. 

The first University of Alberta Students’ Union election forum took place on March 2, and already the race is off to an interesting start. 

Each vice-president (academic) candidate had the opportunity to speak at the University of Alberta Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) — however only one of the candidates seemed well-organized and prepared for the forum. The other candidate seemed less prepared both for the forum and the campaign ahead.

Gurleen Kaur and Milan Regmi are the two candidates running for the role of Students’ Union vice-president (academic) (VPA). At the Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) forum, each candidate made their first remarks for the campaign that began March 1

This was an important day for Kaur especially, seeing as Kaur has yet to release her platform she is running on. The only news the public has heard thus far regarding Kaur’s platform was in the interview that was held with The Gateway and a few posts on her campaign Instagram. 

In the forum, Kaur provided students with an introduction to her platform, however, her brief two minute opening statement left me feeling disenchanted.

Most candidates were able to introduce themselves and the main points of their platforms, with many leaving time at the end to tell students where they can find more information about their campaign. Kaur had to be cut short at the candidates’ two-minute mark. After a brief discussion about her plans to advocate for Indigenous students at the U of A, and the mentioning of two other points in her (hopefully) soon-to-be-released platform, Kaur was cut-off by the facilitator of the event.

Regmi posed Kaur with the question regarding her lack of platform thus far in the race. In response, Kaur said that the reason her platform has not been released yet was because she “decided to run quite late and [she] couldn’t get much time to do that” — “that” being releasing her platform. But Kaur promised to make sure to get her platform out to students, and felt that there was still a ton of time to be able to do so since voting doesn’t begin until next Wednesday.

Unfortunately Kaur did not provide a time for students to be able to expect her releasing her platform and, as of publication, Kaur has not publicly published her platform beyond one point in an Instagram post.

However, Kaur was only one of two candidates to take time at the beginning of their opening statement to ensure that they provided a land acknowledgement. Although Kaur ran over time for her opening statement, a land acknowledgement is an important statement to be made even if the facilitators had already made one themselves. Moreover, she showed a commitment to collaborate more and show solidarity with Indigenous students on campus when she spoke.

Furthermore, we rarely see international students, like Kaur, run for Students’ Union elections — which makes me wonder how much of Kaur’s lack of preparation is due to structural barriers, rather than individual ones.

In comparison, Regmi felt well-prepared for the forum. His opening statement got through his platform — however, Regmi came up slightly short of the two minute mark as well, as the moderator had to cut him off as he was sharing his website link and Instagram link with the audience. His opening statement also remained aligned with CSJ and what he believed CSJ students required, including tackling the decreasing quality and availability of French classes and providing French language resources for all students.

Regmi points directly to his helping CSJ students in his Department Inclusion Plan on his platform. Regmi points how that the “[funding] cuts are dangerous and threaten the ability of Albertans to be able to learn, practice, speak, and obtain an education in the French language.”

At the forum, Regmi also pronounced he believed the decreasing quality and quantity of French courses is an “erosion” of section 23 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms — the section which concerns minority language educational rights.

Overall, Kaur’s part in the forum and her preparation in the campaign thus far has felt unprepared. She has yet to release a platform, and during her opening statement, she was cut off before seemingly saying everything that she wanted to say about her platform. These points have left me initially disappointed. Unlike Kaur, Regmi did not take the time for a land acknowledgement at the beginning of his opening statement but felt much more prepared for CSJ’s forum.

As the VPA race continues, there are many things to look forward to — however, what am I most looking forward to the moment both candidates have public platforms available.

CORRECTION: At 9:18 p.m. on March 2, this article was corrected to reflect that a moderator cut-off Milan Regmi while he was sharing his social media and website during open statements. A previous version did not reflect the fact that a moderator cut him off. The Gateway regrets this error.

Taylor Jeffrey

Taylor was previously the 2022-23 Opinion Editor and 2021-22 Deputy Arts & Culture Editor at The Gateway, and is contributing to the Opinion coverage of the 2023 UASU Elections. She was a double major in English and History, and is now pursuing an After-Degree Ed program. She can often be found at the end of a trail of half-filled coffee cups, curled up with a book and piles of yarn.

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