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SU Elections 2022: Myer Horowitz Forum Recap

The fourth forum of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union 2022 elections was the Myer Horowitz forum.

The fourth forum of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union 2022 elections was the Myer Horowitz forum.

This forum, conducted on March 4, was held in-person at Dinwoodie Lounge, and live streamed on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for the public to view.

Candidates gave their opening statements, which were followed by questions from the audience. The forum concluded with questions from candidates to other candidates.

Here is the TL;DR version of this forum:

  • President: transit safety and campus accessibility
  • Vice-president (operations and finance): candidacy growth over past year
  • Vice-president (external): international student issues
  • Vice-president (academic): mandatory Native Studies course
  • Vice-president (student life): advocacy for international students and marginalized groups
  • Board of Governors Representative: representing ‘the common student’
  • Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG): resource library for members
  • Campus Food Bank (CFB): increased usage over past year
  • Student Legal Services (SLS): increasing outreach to students
  • International Students’ Association (ISA): services supported by International Students’ Association Fee (ISAF)
  • World University Service of Canada (WUSC): committees on North Campus and Campus Saint-Jean

Presidential candidates address transit safety and accessibility outside of the classroom

Presidential candidates gave their ideas on how to increase transit and campus safety, as well as which groups they planned to consult about their solutions.

A question from the audience asked presidential candidates on their plans to ensure student safety on both transit and campus.

“What is your plan to address the unsafe conditions riding transit, [particularly] the LRT, especially since the onset of the pandemic?” the audience member asked.

In response Haruun Ali, presidential candidate, shared plans to work alongside Edmonton City Council to advocate for greater investments in affordable housing for the unhoused population in Edmonton.

“This is an [issue] I am very well aware of. As a transit user myself I can see the issues we have on transit. The reality is that adding more security and more police onto transit is not going to keep transit safer,” Ali said. “What we are seeing right now is an opioid … [and] unhoused crisis in our LRT stations.”

“[We need to] ensure city council is actually investing in affordable housing, investing in supportive housing, and ensuring that people have access to naloxone kits as well.”

Monteiro mentioned advocating for cellular service and improved lighting at all of Edmonton’s LRT stations.

“Transit safety is extremely important to all of us — it’s a way of getting around,” Monteiro said. “We need to make sure we’re taking it seriously, which is why I’m proud to be a presidential candidate that has included it in my platform.”

“The strategies for making transit a safer place [present themselves] in very different ways, starting with the physical infrastructure. Working with the City of Edmonton to make sure we can have cell service at our LRT stations… [additionally, addressing] the fact that there is dim lighting and it is difficult to feel comfortable walking down the LRT station or — at night — taking the bus.”

Emily Kimani described campus security as “an issue” and highlighted negative experiences marginalized groups — particularly Indigenous and Black students — have had with campus policing.

“The answer to [this issue] is not adding more security on campus, and not adding more cops on campus,” Kimani said. “We know the harm that police and security have done to marginalized students, [to] Indigenous students [and] Black students, and we cannot continue to do this harm.”

“We can have more community supports on our campus, but we have to start those conversations together working with our broader community and working with our students, because all students deserve to feel safe on campus.”

Presidential candidates were asked by an audience member how they would increase accessibility outside of the classroom. The student noted, with budget cuts to campus maintenance, sidewalks “are icier” and crosswalks “have not been cleared as much.” In addition, the audience member voiced difficulties navigating campus in a wheelchair due to “various construction projects on campus.”

“How do each of you plan to make campus, as a whole, a more accessible place, not just [focusing on] academic accommodations?” the audience member asked.

Kimani brought forward her experience, as the current vice-president (operations and finance) (VP Op Fi), on the SUB Planning Committee, which looked “at SUB as a building [to] see where we can improve accessibility.”

“As your next president I plan to continue my work at the SUB Planning Committee to develop a master plan,” she said. “From there we can start actually assessing the accessibility needs in SUB and find solutions for them.”

Monteiro noted that SUB must be more accessible, but that work should be extended to buildings outside of SUB as well.

“[We need to make] sure we’re working with the [university’s] vice-president (facilities and operations) and working with the Students’ Union’s VP Ops Fi to address the spaces on our campus entirely, not just SUB to make them safe and welcoming to everyone,” Monteiro said.

Ali spoke to working with the VP Ops Fi to ensure not only SUB is accessible, but the same accessibility is present across campus.

“I want to [work with the] VP Ops Fi to ensure campus is accessible for everyone, no matter how you get around. I want to make sure we take [accessible models] and show the university that [they] need to apply it now too, because that’s how advocacy works,” Ali said.

-Areeha Mahal

VP Ops Fi discusses future of SUB, how her candidacy grew over the past year

Julia Villoso, the sole candidate in the vice-president (operations and finance) (VP Ops Fi) race, outlined her plans on how to ensure that the renovations in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) are built with students’ experience in mind. 

In her opening statement, Villoso discussed how, despite SUB becoming a second home for her and many others, the building has outstanding issues which prevents student life from flourishing in the building.

“SUB is my home away from home,” Villoso said. “However, we all can tell the building isn’t perfect.” 

Issues mentioned by Villoso include stained seats, broken tables, and couches which “have seen better days.”

Villoso plans to address this through the SUB renovation, something which the UASU started working on earlier this year. She mentioned replacing furniture with new, environmentally-friendly alternatives while also ensuring that the changes uphold previous promises made to students. 

“When changes to the building are being made, I want student voices to be spearheading them.” 

An audience member asked Villoso during the forum how she planned to hold herself accountable to those who voted for her, given that she is the only candidate running in this race. 

In her response, Villoso highlighted her growth since her unsuccessful run for VP Ops Fi last year, saying that losing gave her the opportunity to grow as a student elected official. Her answer touched on her work on council, including sitting on committees and working on the residential school memorial with Aboriginal Student Council (ASC). 

“Failing last year was the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Villoso said. “With my limited amount of  power as an arts councillor, I was able — hopefully — to prove myself to students that I care about creating change on campus and improving your lives.” 

Another audience question, asked by a volunteer with vice-president (student life) candidate Joannie Fogue’s campaign, noted that Villoso calls SUB her second home but emphasized that improving SUB would not improve the student experience of students from Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) and Augustana, who rarely access the building. 

“Students at CSJ, like myself, spend almost no time at main campus, don’t have comfortable furniture on our campus, nor a variety of food vendors like SUB does,” the volunteer said. “What will you do to support CSJ and Augustana students to create a second home on their own campuses?”

Villoso responded by saying the VP Ops Fi role assumes responsibility for SUB more directly but discussed how she could expand services to CSJ, such as UASU Cares.

-Mitchell Pawluk

VPX candidates speak on international student issues and work with the provincial government

Both candidates began their opening statements speaking about personal motivations to run for the vice-president (external) (VPX) position.

Chris Beasley, VPX candidate, spoke of his brother, who will be starting at the U of A in the fall and “will be paying almost 50 per cent higher for his degree than [Beasley] would have when [Beasley] started, and he will be paying more to get a worse education.” 

Christian Fotang spoke of his friend who inspired him to run last year, who “went from taking five courses to three courses” because of tuition increases.

Beasley also spoke in his opening remarks that the tuition increases are “personal” to all students. He set his sights on the provincial government, saying education should be crucial because “the quality of our education becomes the Albertan economy.”

Fotang highlighted the work he has gotten done as the incumbent, including “fighting back against exceptional tuition increases.”

He mentioned securing $13.4 million in funding for Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) and worked with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) to get $2.5 million from the province for post-secondaries to revisit and revise sexual violence policies.

Candidates were later asked by an anonymous student how they would welcome views from across the political spectrum on campus and engage with both the New Democratic Party (NDP) and United Conservative Party (UCP) “without pre-existing bias.”

Beasley spoke about the opportunities to work with the current government, highlighting that they “care about building skills for jobs.” He said that we also need to ensure the services and supports needed to support co-op and internship opportunities. He added he wants to “work with any student — no matter the background.”

Fotang mentioned his previous work with provincial parties, highlighting the funding he has been able to push for at the provincial level and his consultations with multiple Alberta Party and the NDP representatives, to make sure issues of post-secondary education are in their platforms.

“Working with all parties across the aisle is something I’ve been doing this entire term,” Fotang said.

To work more closely with students, Fotang said that he wants to bring parties to campus by hosting town halls.

The final question asked to both candidates was how they would incorporate equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) into their advocacy outside of campus.

Beasley said that during his advocacy, he found that students were underrepresented.

“Oftentimes, I will be the only student in the room,” Beasley said. “[I need a] strong foundation with the campus community to represent students … [My goal is to] uplift, empower, and make sure I am always advocating for what is best in these situations.”

Fotang agreed that EDI was important to him, especially when it comes to ensuring students feel adequately supported and represented.

“Equity, diversity, and inclusion is something that has to be top of mind,” Fotang said.

He mentioned that “cultural competency has been an issue” with on-campus mental health supports and that he would like to bring in speakers to develop the needed skills. He added that the VPX does not always need to be the students’ voice. Instead, he can bring in campus community members to fill gaps that lack student voices.

-Kevin Theriault

Mandatory Native Studies course discussed by VPA candidates

During the forum, the vice-president (academic) (VPA) candidates addressed how they would communicate with different campus groups to implement Indigenous learning into academics.

The VPA candidates were asked in a question from the audience what they would do to ensure that a mandatory Native Studies course is implemented, or that Indigenous knowledge and pedagogies are integrated into all classes.

“Part of my plan is working with the General Faculties Council (GFC) Programs Committee to incorporate Indigenous ways of knowledge and history in our programs… including mandatory courses,” Milan Regmi said.

He also mentioned ambitions to introduce courses that are in Cree for students who would prefer to study in their own language.

Gurleen Kaur also plans on working with the GFC Programs Committee. She further stated that in order to ensure funding and instructors for such courses, she would call for a joint session of Council of Faculty Associations (COFA), GFC, and the Senate.

“[I will take action so that] we actually see the course on campus, and not just in theory,” Kaur said.

Regmi questioned Kaur about her plans to accommodate disabled students outside the resources that are already present.

Kaur responded that her focus is on making accommodations more accessible by putting a section on eClass that will direct students to the right resources. She also stated that she would make it mandatory for every class to initially brief students about the available academic accommodations, and have this session be recorded so that students are aware of their rights.

Kaur asked Regmi to elaborate on and specify what exactly he thinks he can accomplish.

“I went through your 30-page long platform, which seems to be all the top [issues] on Google that students face, and [outside the spectrum] of the vice-president (academic)’s portfolio,” Kaur said. “Can you specify what you’ll be able to achieve, and how you’ll be [achieving that]?”

Regmi emphasized that he thinks “it’s important for any candidate … to achieve as much as they can on their platform,” and that he would ensure he does the same. He promised regular consultation with GFC and Students’ Council to accomplish as many goals as he can during his term.

-Megana Thamilselvan 

VPSL candidates speak on advocacy for international students and marginalized students not ‘part of the groups’ that candidates belong to

The vice-president (student life) (VPSL) candidates acknowledged their roles in the U of A community, and explained how they planned to advocate for those whose communities they aren’t a part of.

VPSL candidates were asked by a volunteer from The Gateway on plans to advocate for “minority students” on campus.

“Both candidates represent marginalized groups on campus, and it is clearly represented in your platforms,” the volunteer’s question said. “How will you ensure all students are being represented in your advocacy, especially minority students not part of the marginalized groups you belong to?”

Morris mentioned being accessible and available for all students through regularly scheduled town halls.

“Something that still isn’t explicitly in my platform, because I’m still figuring out exactly how it will happen, is ensuring monthly, if not biweekly town halls, ensuring students are able to come and directly communicate with myself as to what needs they need addressed.”

Fogue drew attention to her platform, describing points she “will not benefit from” but will advocate for.

“I belong to the Black community and I belong to CSJ… but I go beyond that,” Fogue said. “…People don’t have accessible free menstrual products. I have mentioned that [in my platform] and that is something I will not benefit from. There are still students who practice minority faith religions who don’t have academic accommodations… I have also already mentioned this.”

In a later question, VPSL candidates were asked on specific advocacy plans to support international students at the U of A.

Morris spoke to altering current sexual violence supports and training available to students, describing current resources as targeted towards “Western born and raised, cisgendered, and heterosexual students.”

“One of the cornerstones of my past year… was working with our International Student Cohort leader when she told me that there has been a string of sexual violence incidences in [International House],” Morris said.

“One of my plans is to change the [sexual violence] training we offer,” they said. “All students who are coming into our campus should have something that lets them know ‘you have an entitlement to your body’ and ‘you have an entitlement to your space.'”

Fogue spoke to ensuring sexual violence training “reflects the needs of international students.” Additionally, she mentioned celebrating International Day at the U of A.

“To make sure I knew exactly what [international students] wanted, I made sure I consulted with International Students’ Association members as well as spoke to other international students,” Fogue said. “The first thing we need to do is recognize International Day.”

“We have so many different cultures and different backgrounds on our campuses. The Students’ Union needs to recognize that. We need to stand with the ISA and make sure, as a community, all students at least celebrate international students.”

-Areeha Mahal

Issues of the “common student” central to the questions posed to the BoG rep candidate

The questions posed to the BoG representative candidate focused on his ability to represent the “common student.”

In his opening statement, Alex Dorschied, a third-year bachelor of commerce student, stated “the Students’ Union didn’t have the voices of the ‘common student,’” and he wants to work for solutions for all students.

“This is why I’m running for the Board of Governors: to advocate for every student, no matter what they want to do,” Dorschied said.

A volunteer from the Beasley campaign asked about Dorschied’s experience in governance.

“What is your experience in governance thus far and how will this translate to working on the Board of Governors?” the question asked.

Dorschied emphasized he did not have any experience in student governance or student politics which he believes makes him better suited for representing “the common student.”

“I’m coming from the ‘common student’ so I can represent everyone at the school,” Dorschied said. “Using this, I will be able to represent every single student at the school. I’m not representing the niche interest of students who are trying to further their own political careers.”

“Too many times we have people who want to be student politicians and they want to use it to leapfrog into something else. “

Another question from the audience asked Dorschied to clarify where he got “the notion of the ‘common student.’”

“My definition of a ‘common student’ is looking for solutions to a problem that every student faces, not just one specific student group or one niche interest group, but something that is a problem for every single student,” Dorschied said.

“The BoG oversees the long term planning of the institution and they oversee the long term strategic role of the institution. That isn’t just pertinent to one group; that’s pertinent to every single student.”

In response to his statements about representing the “common student,” Rowan Morris, VPSL candidate, asked about what Dorschied will do about those who do not fall within the category of the “common student.”

“What will you do for students who don’t fall into this middle basket, the fringe students who are often underrepresented by the Board of Governors historically?” they said.

Dorschied said he doesn’t pretend to be something he isn’t. He described himself as “someone who can listen to these students, consult with these students, and make sure their voices are heard.” 

He said he will speak to these students about their issues and “give them the proper voice on the Board.”

Additionally, Dorshied said he will also let students in these groups speak to the Board themselves “when the situation is right to do so.”

“I will be letting them speak for themselves and learning from their stories because no one is better at speaking for themselves than that person whom the issue is directed towards,” he said.

Remi Hou

APIRG highlights resource library for all members, Campus Food Bank emphasizes their increased usage

At the Myer Horowitz Forum, the APIRG representative Sarah Alemu mentioned the free library resources they have for members. She mentioned that the library is a free alternative resource library and has hard-to-find titles.

All plebiscites and referendums were asked the same questions by the Student Legal Services (SLS) representative, inviting them to speak out about services they offer, that some students may not know about. 

To this Alemu responded with how they have supported and funded a multitude of student projects and initiatives to tackle oppression, food insecurity, and gender equity. She also goes on to mention the free workshops for students and student groups with the example of grants writing.  

“We want to support you in applying for grants and applying for scholarships, and we’re here to offer that.”

The Campus Food Bank appeared at the Myer Horowitz Forum, with their representative Ethan Park. 

Park first described that the Campus Food Bank is a charity that fights against food insecurity on campus, supporting students, staff, recent alumni, and their families. 

“University is a place where you should hunger for knowledge, not for food,” Park said.

He continued by revealing that there has been a recent increase in their usage, with more hampers being distributed in the last six months than in the first year their referendum passed in 2018. The Campus Food Bank has fed over 2,900 individuals — suggesting that they will surpass 4,000, making it their busiest year yet. 

Apart from hamper distribution, Park includes how they run programs to support students. These include free cooking classes for individuals who may be new to cooking or those looking for healthy and affordable recipes. They also run a grocery bus which connects people to more affordable and specialized grocery stores, and they recently started a weekly free breakfast held at SUB, plus they are a depot for several grocery programs like WECAN

In response to the SLS representative’s question, Park noted the fact that the services of Campus Food Bank are “incredibly accessible for students.” He went on to say that they have recently changed their client registration process to be done online for food hampers, where they do not request any financial information and little, mostly optional demographic intel making the process very simple “register as a client, book a hamper, and come pick it up in 10 minutes.”

Park concluded with the fact that they adjusted their operation hours to be more suited for students by allocating two days of the week to be open late and one day of the week to be open early.

Lale Fassone

SLS, WUSC, and ISA referendums highlight their work and offered services

Throughout the forum, referendums continued to share the work they would be able to do with their fees, and how those proposed, or currently existing services positively affect students.

A staff member from The Gateway asked the SLS’s representative about plans to increase student outreach.

“Many students may not be aware of the services SLS provides,” the staff member said. “How do you plan on extending your student outreach to explain the resources you can provide?”

Jeremy Hoefsloot, SLS’s representative at the forum, described current outreach efforts conducted by SLS along with future work — including reaching out to residency associations.

“We currently have advertisement in the LRT and are seeking more advertisement on and around campus,” Hoefsloot said. “In non-pandemic years, usually we have tabling in SUB where we provide free legal information on a number of legal topics pertaining to students.”

“For the longest time we generally provided civil and criminal defence work, but we realized we were hitting the bottom of the barrel of students served — either students had to commit more crimes, or we would have to expand our services. That’s partially what we’re planning to do here — reaching out to residency associations and making sure students are aware of our services.”

In a question extended to other fees present at the forum, Hoefsloot asked them to highlight a service they provide that audience members might not be aware of.

Damon Bectell, representative of the World University Service of Canada’s (WUSC’s) referendum, highlighted the group’s multiple committees.

“We have two local committees — one on North Campus and one on Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) — and we both work to sponsor a student. Once of the reasons for the fee adjustment is to increase funding for students at CSJ, because with French as their first language it is harder to find work here in Alberta.”

Dhir Bid, president-elect of the International Students’ Association (ISA), put a spotlight on multiple services that would be financially supported by the International Students’ Association Fee (ISAF). Bid, along with Gurbani Baweja VPX of the ISA, both represented the group at the forum.

“Some of the things that would be provided through the ISAF is the ICard program, awards for international students as they have various contributions to campus life and we want to recognize that, and we want to have year-round events for them… and mental health and professional development workshops so international students can be integrated into the workforce,” Bid said.

-Areeha Mahal

Faculty associations discuss membership fees, highlight services they bring to respective students

The Education Students’ Association (ESA) and Interdepartmental Science Students’ Society (ISSS) discussed their respective faculty association membership fees (FAMFs) at the Myer Horowitz forum and the services that their fees provide for students in their respective faculties. 

FAMFs are a student fee paid exclusively by members of a specific faculty and which are used to support the operations of their faculty association.

Edward Tiet, the ESA representative, discussed how the ESA FAMF provides benefits for education students, such as free snacks, access to professional development sessions hosted by the ESA, and funding for scholarships. The FAMF is an $8 fee collected from undergrad education students in the Fall semester. 

“Without having the membership fee for next year, we would have to cut back on a lot of these services and we could not provide as much as we used to in previous years,” Tiet said.

Riya Mangukia, the representative for the ISSS, emphasized the services that the ISSS FAMF has supported over the previous four years since students last voted on the fee. The ISSS FAMF is a $5 fee collected from undergrad science students in both the Fall and Winter semester — making it $10 annually. 

In her remarks, Mangukia highlighted how the fee helps pay for over $15,000 in student scholarships, free tutoring services through mini study groups, and locker rentals in CAB, SAB, and CCIS. 

“This fee ensures ISSS can continue to provide the amount of services we have previously and much more,” Mangukia said. 

During candidate questions, Jeremy Hoefsloot, the representative for Student Legal Services (SLS), asked referendums and plebiscites what facet of their services they believe students should know more about. 

In their responses, both Tiet and Mangukia highlighted how their fees provide students with professional development opportunities that would not be possible without funding from student fees. 

Tiet specifically highlighted the work the ESA accomplishes as Student Local No. 1 of the Alberta Teachers’ Association (ATA), the professional association of Alberta teachers. He also mentioned the benefits that professional development sessions offer to education students.

“We offer important professional development sessions that all students should attend since it’ll be very useful for them in their future careers as teachers,” Tiet said.

Mangukia also emphasized the importance that professional development conferences have on the potential careers of science graduates, given their current career prospects. 

“If you aren’t a science student yourself, or aren’t friends with one, you should know that it’s really hard to find a job if you graduate with a science degree,” Mangukia said. “In order to address this, we’ve actually created a bunch of professional development conference opportunities for students to connect with people who are in their respective field … so they can have a better grasp on what to do once they graduate.” 

-Mitchell Pawluk

Areeha Mahal

Areeha Mahal was the 2021-22 News Editor and previously served as a Deputy Arts & Culture Editor and Deputy News Editor. Additionally, she is a second-year Biology and English student. When she’s not learning the Krebs cycle for the millionth time, Areeha enjoys stargazing, baking pies, and listening to Bob Dylan.

Mitchell Pawluk

Mitchell was the 2021-2022 Editor-in-Chief, and served as the 2020-2021 Opinion Editor at The Gateway. He’s a fifth-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!

Kevin Theriault

Kevin Theriault is an Urban Planning student and senior volunteer for The Gateway. He is enthusiastic about coffee, board games, and geography.

Remi Hou

Remi is the 2021-22 Deputy News Editor at the Gateway and has been volunteering with the Gateway since August of 2020. He is in his third year pursuing a degree in pharmacology. While he loves learning about acetaminophen, beta-blockers and human anatomy, you can also find him reading a book, playing piano and volunteering as a youth sponsor at his church.

Lale Fassone

Lale Fassone is a second-year student studying media studies and linguistics. She served as the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor in spring 2022. When she isn’t procrastinating her mountain-high workload or when not trying to learn yet another language, she can be found potentially working, writing, reading, or eating strawberries while watching the same rom-com over again.

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