Students’ Union Elections 2023 Results
While last year's Students' Union executive was half women, none ran this year.
For the first time in a decade, the University of Alberta Students’ Union executive team consists entirely of men.
On March 10, the results for the Students’ Union 2023 elections were announced at Dewey’s. According to the Elections Office, there was a 19.3 per cent turnout with a total of 6,489 votes — a 0.71 per cent increase from the 2022 election.
Fotang elected Students’ Union president with 67 per cent of the votes on first ballot
Christian Fotang, a fifth-year biological sciences student and current vice-president (external), was elected to be the next Students’ Union president, with 67 per cent of the votes on first ballot.
“I am beyond honoured, privileged, and excited. I am honoured by the trust that the students have put in me, to lead them and be their voice for the next year,” Fotang said.
Fotang said that while campaigning, hearing from students helped shape what he thinks “we can do to help improve our connection with the student body.”
He said that his next steps include transitioning into working with the new team of executives, and acknowledging that no women ran in this election. He added that with Students’ Council elections coming up soon, the Students’ Union needs to “push women and gender-minority students to run.”
“Not just pushing them to run, but working to create that culture where they can feel safe, where they can feel empowered to speak up, where they can shape and lead our advocacy in our organization — so that come next year, and come next election, we’re not having a repeat lack of representation,” Fotang said.
Haruun Ali, a third-year political science student, and former arts councillor on Students’ Council, came in second with 23 per cent of the votes. “I have no regrets. I’m happy I did it,” he said.
“I presented my vision to students … at the end of the day, I put up what I believed was right for the Students’ Union.”
He thanked his supporters for believing in his vision. “There’s always going to be a home for you in the Students’ Union, pushing for change,” he said.
Ali said that his next steps include getting involved with the provincial election, and he is “excited to see what happens on that front.”
-Lily Polenchuk, with files from Emily Williams
Beasley elected VPX with 82 per cent of the votes
Chris Beasley was elected to be the new vice-president (external), with 82 per cent of the votes.
Beasley shared that he has spent the past week having one-on-ones with individuals who were uncertain if he could deliver his promises.
“I intend to show them that we can, and we can fight hard and win. This is going to be a lot of work, but I’m ready for it.”
Regarding next steps, Beasley says he plans to focus on the Get Out The Vote campaign. Currently, he is aiming for 4,000 pledges to vote at the U of A.
“We’re going to hit 4,000, and we’re going to hit 10,000 province-wide. That’s going to happen by the first month of my term.”
Beasley added that he’s excited to begin his term, and ready to take on the work.
“This meant a lot to me. Now we need to get started on the work, and I’m excited to do that for you folks.”
Griffiths elected VPSL with 80 per cent of the vote
Michael Griffiths, a fourth-year honours political science student and the only candidate running in the race for vice-president (student life), won with 80 per cent of the vote.
When asked how he feels about the results, Griffths said that he is excited to get started with the position, and is looking forward to getting started right away.
“It’s different running unopposed, but it’s still comforting that students still put their faith in me,” he said.
Griffiths thanked those who convinced him to run, stating that they “really had to edge [him] along,” but that he was thankful for their help.
As he enters his new position, Griffiths said that he hopes to focus on “succession work,” and hearing from the current vice-president (student life), Joannie Fogue.
Since the new executives do not start their terms until May, Griffiths explained that “there’s still lots of work to do ahead of time to make that learning curve and transition as easy as possible.”
“I’m excited to get started,” he said.
Flaman elected VP Ops Fi with 54 per cent of the votes
Levi Flaman, a fourth-year commerce student and current business councillor on Students’ Council, was elected to be the next vice-president (operations and finance).
In the second round, Flaman received 54 per cent of the votes. Fateh Arslan, a fourth-year commerce student, had 46 per cent.
Flaman called the results a “big surprise” after “poor performances in the forums,” and added that the forums motivated him to “really get out there and meet people, and get that platform across in a more intimate way.”
“I think at the end of the day, that made the difference.”
Flaman thanked all his voters and supporters, as well as those who voted for Arslan.
“I thank them as well because by choosing my opponent it makes me realize that the platform that I ran on isn’t resonating with everybody, which is why I approached Fateh to — after this is over — to get his notes.”
Flaman’s immediate plans after winning include “getting into transition.”
Arslan expressed disappointment at his loss, but was glad he ran for the role.
“That’s democracy: to be part of an election, to be part of making your voice heard. So I’m glad I did that.”
When asked about his next steps, Arslan said that he plans to “move on.”
“What can you do, right? So hopefully finish up my degree. Move into the industry.”
Almeida elected as next VPA, wins by 47 votes
After three rounds, Pedro Almeida won the vice-president (academic) position with 47 votes, or 50 per cent of the third round, over candidate Rowan Morris.
“It literally came down to the last vote,” said Almeida. He added he’d like to work with the other vice-president (academic) candidates moving forward.
“This race brings out the competitive side of everyone, but now I hope I can bring out cooperation. The candidates are some of the people that study this role the deepest.”
“I feel excited for what’s to come,” added Almeida. “But most of all, I’m looking forward to working with the team, and for the advice of my opponents as I move into this new role.”
In the third round, Morris and Almeida both had 50 per cent of the votes. Morris said that he is thankful for the support he got throughout his campaign.
“Thank you for caring about people who are being pushed out of this institution,” Morris said to his voters.
Morris said he plans to potentially run for Students’ Council, adding that “there are some incredible women who have supported me through this campaign.”
Milan Regmi received 23 per cent of the votes in the second round before being eliminated.
“It’s tough stepping up and I have to respect Almeida for that,” Regmi said.
“Losing twice in a row, back-to-back elections, is not easy. Had we not pushed until the very end, I would’ve felt even worse,” he added.
“But at the end of the day, the students have spoken.”
Raitz elected as BoG Representative with 82 per cent of the votes
Stephen Raitz, a second-year law student, was elected as the next Board of Governors (BoG) representative, with 82 per cent of the votes.
In his interview, Raitz commented on his feelings about the results.
“I feel a little embarrassed that I wasn’t here on time, but I am here now, and just glad to celebrate and really appreciate the supportive students.”
Raitz also thanked his campaign manager and partner for “creating what we were able to present to people.”
He added that he’s looking forward to connecting with students over the term, and “getting stuff done, representing students, and doing all that good stuff.”
Raitz said that his next steps will be to “write three papers, a final, relish a little bit of summer, and then, be on time for all the meetings.”
APIRG referendum passes with 61 per cent of the vote
The Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG) referendum passed with 61 per cent of the vote.
“Y’all voted in favor of building a better campus community together,” Sarah Alemu, APIRG’s outreach coordinator said. “Let’s keep moving. Let’s keep building a better future.”
When asked how she felt about the results, Alemu stated that it was “really exciting.”
“It goes to show that there’s a need on campus and a desire for more supports when it comes to work that challenges oppression.”
Alemu thanked everyone who voted in favour of the referendum, and each of the candidates, who unanimously endorsed APIRG.
She added that campaigning for the referendum happened “collectively, as a huge team effort between our volunteers, our board of directors, and student supports at large.”
“One vote goes a long, long way in supporting student led projects [and] community organizing,” she said. “That really gets to the core of issues that are affecting students, and it’s what we’re dedicated to do.”
Looking to the future, Alemu said that APIRG planned to figure out a game plan for the next four years while continuing to listen to the needs of students, as they have “always done since [their] start.”
Alemu added that APIRG has committed to providing a workshop specifically addressing “gender equity and trans issues,” in addition to their pre-existing anti-oppression workshops.
“This is stuff we’re committed to doing, and the work that we will continue to do, and much, much more, so keep an eye out,” she said.
HUB Community Association does not pass due to turn-out
The HUB Community Association (HCA) did not pass due to not meeting the 15 per cent threshold of voter turnout. A total of 59 votes were cast, with 42 in favour.
“It was surprising,” said Kelvin Au, the current vice-president (operations and finance) of HCA. He said they were very close to meeting the 15 per cent threshold.
“We have some work to do to connect further with the students to increase that turnout for later — for the next year then we possibly run again.”
Au thanked those who voted for HCA and said that it is only with their support that they are able to continue their work.
“The next step is to reconvene with our team and to work with the Students’ Union to ensure that our association can remain relevant and can continue to engage residents in HUB mall.”
-Emily Williams, with files from Dylana Twittey
Lister Hall Students’ Association referendum passes
The Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA) referendum passed, with 426 votes in favour of the referendum, and 125 votes against.
“I’m happy the students of Lister still have faith in us, and are supporting us,” said Natalia Ewanek, the current treasurer of the LHSA.
She added that those involved in the LHSA will “keep on doing what we’re doing and keep the LHSA a successful organization.”
All other referendums and plebiscites pass
Campus Recreation Enhancement Fund Fee (CREF) passed with 64 per cent. The Nursing Undergraduate Association Fee (NUA), Business Students’ Association Fee (BSA), Education Students’ Association Fee (ESA), Kinesiology, Sport, and Recreation Student Society Fee (KSRSS), and Law Students’ Association Fee (LSA) all passed.
UPDATE: This article was updated March 12, 1:04 p.m. to remove a portion of a quote from Fateh Arslan due to concerns about personal safety.
Every year, The Gateway publishes hundreds of articles like the one you just read that are free for everyone to access. But The Gateway needs your support to continue publishing its award-winning journalism. Please consider donating today, even a small amount can help the University of Alberta’s only newspaper continue serving the campus community. Thank you.