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SU Elections 2023 Q&A: Vice-President (Student Life)

There is one candidate in the 2023 Students' Union vice-president (student life) race — Michael Griffiths.

The vice-president (student life) is responsible for all non-academic aspects of student life at the University of Alberta, as well as overseeing numerous Students’ Union services, and advocating on issues such as health and wellness. They work closely with residence services, and are responsible for organizing internal mental health initiatives. 

There is one candidate in the 2023 Students’ Union vice-president (student life) race:

  • Michael Griffiths, a fourth-year honours political science student.

The following interviews have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Why have you decided to run for vice-president (student life)? 

Michael Griffiths: This year, I served as the president of the Lister Hall Students’ Association. I worked with a lot of great folks, a lot of different student leaders, and a lot of professional staff in that role. I really got an inside look at what things are like here at the Student’s Union and on campus, as well as the many areas and things that go into addressing student needs. So that was what inspired me to run — some of the people I work with. 

What would you say are three main takeaways from your platform? 

Griffiths: I think the three biggest things for me regarding my platform and the vice-president (student life) portfolio are, first off, student supports. The vice-president (student life) has a big role in finding ways to support students on campus through the many services the Students’ Union offers. The next one is student engagement. The vice-president (student life) does a lot of work in helping to keep students engaged and running events on campus. Finally, advocacy — really fighting for students and demonstrating that you can meet their needs and get what’s best for them.

How do you plan on improving mental health supports on campus? 

Griffiths: I know mental health supports on campus are absolutely critical to students and are something that have been a little lacklustre in the past, so they are something I want to work to fix this year. I think there’s some good work going on already to try to address these supports, but we definitely need to go further. So, working with our partners here on campus and really demanding that the university and Students’ Union can expand what services we offer, help reduce wait times, and really promote accessibility for students regarding mental health is going to be super important. 

After coming back from having school online, it’s been hard for students to get back into participating and going to events. How do you plan on reviving student life on campus? 

Griffiths: It’s absolutely been challenging for students coming out of the pandemic. I was fortunate enough to go to school briefly before the pandemic started, and I’ve lived in residence for my entire four years here, so I’ve really got to see first-hand all of the struggles that come with not being able to run events, and not being engaged. So, definitely continuing on the efforts that the university worked on this year, and building on that to promote student engagement on campus and facilitating events — still safely — to bring students out post-pandemic. 

How will you work towards creating a safe campus environment for the student body?

Griffiths: There’s a number of different ways to go about this, and I really want to be drawing on students and what they’re asking for when it comes to this question. So, engaging with students, listening to them about what they need to make campus safer, and then really digging into those things to do my best to make campus safer and tackle this in a multi-faceted approach. Obviously, there’s many components that go into this, so really making sure we address as many as possible. 

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Olivia O'Neill

Olivia O’Neill is the 2023-24 Opinion Editor at The Gateway. She’s in her fifth year of the English honours program. She loves popular culture, The Smiths, and collecting multiple copies of the same book. If she’s not reading or writing, Olivia can be found trying new recipes, logging movies on Letterboxd, or defending her favourite Gilmore Girls theories with her life. She is Team Jess.

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