On Monday the Myer Horowitz forum, the most widely attended forum, took place for the University of Alberta Students’ Union election. Although each candidate has made a varying number of promises to students, the feasibility of candidate platforms has been questioned. How many promises can a candidate actually fulfill in a single term?
In the last moments of the forum vice-president (academic) (VPA) candidate Gurleen Kaur asked her opponent, Milan Regmi, an important question regarding his platform goals. Instead of answering the question directly, Regmi wove around the question and provided a vague plan on how he plans to fulfil his platform.
Regmi has a powerful, but large, platform. On his website, Regmi has ten sections to his platform, with each section having multiple points and promises. Kaur stated that the points within Regmi’s platform all seemed like “top items on Google that students face and irrespective of [the] VPA’s portfolio.”
Kaur continued by questioning Regmi’s promises, asking how Regmi plans to keep these promises in one term.
In his reply, Regmi avoided a direct answer to Kaur’s question.
“I believe that it is important for any candidate no matter how many promises they make, no matter what they’re running on, to achieve as much of their platform as possible, and that is something that I will ensure I will do,” he said.
In regards to his plans for succeeding with his platform goals, Regmi stated that he plans to work with the various councils and committees on campus like General Faculties Committee (GFC) in order to allow everyone on campus to be heard.
“Not just for the people [with influence], not just for the people from the big faculties, but for everyone, no matter what department they’re in, no matter who they are.”
Although Regmi seems sincere in his commitment to keeping his promises to the students, one cannot help but wonder: how many goals are too many?
The VPA’s job duties list that they are responsible for all advocacy related to academic issues at the U of A. Most of Regmi’s platform goals fit this criteria, the exceptions largely being his points within his Jobs Initiative. Arguably, this plan does include Regmi’s work-for-rent program, which could impact student tuition and therefore be tangentially related to academic issues.
However, many of Regmi’s platform points are large promises that cannot feasibly be completed in a single year. One of his promises is a goal of a four-day work week. Although four-day work weeks have been proven to be successful, this is not a minor change. This would disrupt many institutional changes within the U of A, both academically and professionally, and I find it difficult to believe that this point will be able to be completed in a term.
Kaur, on the other hand, has streamlined her platform.
Kaur has seven platform goals, each with brief points regarding how she plans on implementing her points. Although many of her plans are similar to Regmi in that their plans involve advocacy and talking with the General Faculties Council (GFC), the smaller list of goals would be more achievable.
One of Kaur’s main platform points is professor accountability. She aims to work towards making it mandatory for professors to provide new recordings for online courses and maintain proper workloads for students. Kaur plans on making this official through making sure Universal Student Ratings of Instruction (USRIs) are accurately evaluated for each professor, and that professors follow through with making adequate changes to their programs.
Where Regmi’s four-day work week required in-depth changes, Kaur’s goal for professor accountability already has structures put in place. Kaur’s goals seem more feasible than Regmi’s lofty promises.
All of Kaur’s points are applicable to all students on campus dealing with academics. From textbooks to advising opportunities, there are no points within Kaur’s platform that are not direct responsibilities of the VPA.
Although Kaur does not have as many points as Regmi has in his own platform, that does not equate to having a worse platform. When looking at the two platforms side-by-side, Kaur’s platform seems much more feasible for a VPA to be able to successfully accomplish in a single term of service. Unfortunately, Kaur’s platform does not meet the standards of committing to the verbal promises she has made on the campaign trail and at forums.
Nevertheless, more doesn’t always mean better.