Every year The Gateway hosts a panel to determine who should and who will win in each race for the Students’ Union elections to assist those undecided on who to vote for. Our election dissection panel is here with their insights on student politics and their takes on this year’s candidates.
Opinions expressed by the panellists do not reflect those of The Gateway.
This year’s panel for election dissection included:
- Jin He: first-year pharmacy student at the University of Alberta, former production editor at The Gateway.
- Jared Larsen: U of A alumni (BCom ’20), former Students’ Union vice-president (student life), former Residence Association President
- Emily Briand: third-year political science student at the U of A, current president of the University of Alberta Conservative Club.
VPX: Chris Beasley, a sixth-year political science student, and former Students’ Union arts councillor.
He and Larsen acknowledged Beasley’s shifted campaign approach to the vice-president (external) (VPX) race, compared to his campaign last year.
“I think last year was a lot more in your face,” He said. “But I think this year, he’s really toned it down a little bit, especially with his promises.”
“You can tell the differences between who was on his campaign last year and who was on his campaign this year and just the style of it,” Larsen added. “And then Chris also worked for [Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS)], so he has a really good understanding of our provincial law.”
Briand expressed her concerns with some of Beasley’s platform points, such as transit safety and safe injection sites, as she doesn’t “see the direct connection between advocating for that and a benefit to students.”
He replied to Briand, saying, “I can tell where you’re coming from. I think there’s like lots of angles you could take with safe injection sites and how they would relate to students.”
After describing Beasley as “the groundwork guy,” He shared her thoughts on Beasley taking on part of this year’s Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign as VPX.
“The provincial election is so close to the start of their term, that he will be pressured to do a lot of things quickly. And he has to take notes and learn his lesson from the past [GOTV] campaign with voting,” He said.
She noted, however, that the previous GOTV campaign was limited by COVID-19 and Beasley won’t be limited in that way. “I think this will work towards his benefit.”
Larsen and Briand were concerned about the engagement Beasley would have with his current plans of campaigning in-person to students on campus for GOTV. Although Beasley is already working with GOTV as CAUS’s communications coordinator, the provincial election is during the spring term — a time where not a lot of students are on campus.
“It’s [in the] summer so you can talk about getting on the ground all you want, but you’re gonna yell into an empty [Main Quad],” Larsen said. “I’m gonna want to see Chris identify which students are going to be on campus and also hone in on a different approach, and how we can really activate those students where they are instead of on campus.”
“I hope he thinks of a creative thing to do, though, because it’s a great program, and I think everyone should get out to vote,” Briand added.
The panellists conveyed their concerns with student voter apathy and low engagement in politics, both in the university and the provincial level, especially as students slowly come back in-person on campus.
“I think one thing that students might feel apathy towards is that they don’t know what the UASU does … it’s hard to reach a student who doesn’t care about politics if all you’re using is your existing political strategies to market those ideas,” He said.
Briand said that this resonated with her personally, as someone who is not very engaged in SU politics.
“I’ve been here for four years and I still don’t really understand [the SU], because I’m not heavily involved. I am just an average student who goes to class every day,” Briand said. “I think we absolutely need to break that down for a student.”
Larsen said that big SU wins have historically helped with voter turnout for SU elections.
“It’s been a long time since the Students’ Union had a big win,” he said. He added that it’s hard to avoid apathy with the current provincial government.
“The UCP hasn’t listened to students. And it is what it is,” Larsen said. “It’s hard even for myself, who was very well-engaged. I feel much more apathetic now towards Students’ Union issues because it just seems like they are fighting a losing battle.”
He and Briand focused on two points in Beasley’s platform that could help alleviate student apathy towards politics.
“I think one thing that Beasley could do — that he’s probably going to do anyway — is just making it more public, like big UASU wins,” He said.
“What we really need to be focused on is events and things that make it worth it to be a student on campus,” Briand said. “It’s a mental health thing; there’s already so much stuff happening in politics and it’s already way too much to handle.”
Overall, the panel came to a consensus that Beasley has the skills and experience to advocate for the student population about their concerns. Even at the start of this conversation, all of the panelists agreed that he is ready to take on the VPX role, particularly Larsen.
“Chris has a long history. I think it’s his time. He’s been waiting for a long time for this.”
Who will win? Three votes for Chris Beasley
Who should win? Three votes for Chris Beasley
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.