The vice-president (external) (VPX) race has been hopeful and passionate, despite being uncontested. The only candidate in the VPX race is Chris Beasley, a sixth year political science student. He ran last year against incumbent and current VPX Christian Fotang.
In past years, advocacy has been an important tool used to improve student life. It has proven to be integral when students need to stand up for their wants and needs within a large institution. Within this year’s elections, Beasley has shown his tenacity and willingness to work in favour of the U of A student body.
Beasley shows a passion for student advocacy even outside of student elections, and with ample experience and an acute emphasis on students’ needs, the student body can trust that he will accomplish the goals he outlines in his platform. He was previously an Students’ Union arts councillor and president of Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS).
Even when he wasn’t in an elected position, Beasley still attended tuition discussions in the General Faculties Council (GFC). At the International Students’ Association forum, Beasley affirmed his commitment to the student body and said that even when he wasn’t directly involved in governance, he still showed up because he cared.
As a previous candidate for the same position in 2022, Beasley has shown a consistency in messaging that speaks to his reliability and commitment to representing student interest. Reflecting on his campaign statements from last year, he has not lost his adamant emphasis on a “bottom-up” approach to change. To Beasley, a bottom-up approach means involving students in advocacy so that it is not “a one-time event” but rather a continuous conversation.
When student opinions are so commonly dismissed, I think it is refreshing to hear a plan that emphasizes the importance of listening to students’ contribution about student life.
The key role of the VPX is advocating for students, especially those that are marginalized and underrepresented. Throughout the CSJ forum, Beasley highlighted his intention to create a dialogue with French student representative student groups, such as the Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean (AUFSJ) and French organizations, in Edmonton to amplify their needs at a provincial and federal level.
One of Beasley’s focal points is the pervasive issue of budget cuts affecting life at the University of Alberta. Beasley has shown his conviction that the best way to affect change is to draw attention through media interactions, have conversations with politicians, and planned protests.
Many candidates throughout the elections have expressed their desire to support students who are affected by budget cuts, having witnessed the consequences of unaffordable education on those around them. Beasley wants to rally enough students and make their voices hard to ignore. In contrast, Fotang’s approach as VPX in 2022 was centered around lobbying or being “behind the scenes.” Beasley’s approach is novel in comparison — but the student body is ready for something new.
With Beasley’s approach being so emphatically based on student involvement, he faces the harsh reality of low engagement in student politics.
With an 18.59 per cent voter turnout in 2022, the reality is that most students, although possibly frustrated with the decisions being made, are not inclined to be involved — even in something as fundamental as voting. This proves detrimental to Beasley’s approach, which relies heavily on student participation.
In the Myer Horowitz forum, when questioned about this lack of enthusiasm for student politics, Beasley expressed his belief that students just need to be actively encouraged to get involved. Campaigns like Halt the Hikes, a campaign to stop the exorbitant yearly increases in tuition, exemplify that students are motivated to act.
I found this answer convincing, even though grassroots organizing would be a new approach for the SU. But, if successful, it could re-inspire confidence among the student population and hopefully increase engagement.
He also mentioned the Get Out the Vote (GOTV) campaign as an initiative he is deeply involved in — an initiative Christian Fotang also worked on in his time as current VPX.
However, the GOTV campaign was not overly successful in Fotang’s term, as it only amassed 137 votes for the mayoral elections out of all post secondary advanced voting stations, and was criticized for being poorly advertised. Beasley needs to learn from these mistakes, and re-evaluate methods that haven’t worked in the past.
Beasley brought up successful campaigns he has organized and points that their reason for success is mostly the “grunt work” involved in rallying students. To Beasley, this means going to classrooms and actively listening to students.
As previously stated, Beasley’s plan is different than past VPX approaches, and he has more to prove. Time will tell if this will be successful or not.
Beasley’s goals have an aspect not commonly found in this student election — they are achievable and realistic. This is definitely a positive aspect of his campaign. Beasley has not over-promised, and he is passionate about the goals he proposes, making him more likely to deliver.
Who will win, and who should win?
As an uncontested candidate, Chris Beasley has little competition. But, the student body should rest assured that Beasley is a capable advocate for students, which means he’s likely to win.
Beasley is clearly passionate about student governance, but his plans hinge heavily on student involvement, which isn’t a guarantee.
He has shown a tenacity and an involvement in student government that is closely followed by tangible skill in student organizing and advocacy. This combination is most likely to guarantee that Beasley will stand against policies and decisions that harm the student body.
With his ‘can do attitude’ that hasn’t wavered in both this and last year’s campaign, Beasley infectiously inspires confidence.