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SU Elections 2023: Campus Saint-Jean Forum Recap

The first forum of the University of Alberta’s Students’ Union 2023 elections was the Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) forum.

The University of Alberta’s Students’ Union (UASU) 2023 elections had its first forum at Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) on March 3. The event was offered in-person, over Zoom, and live-streamed on Instagram.

Candidates had two minutes to give opening statements, and each race was asked a question by either Taylor Good, president of the Association of Universities of the Saint-Jean Faculty (AUFSJ), or Jillian Aisenstat, vice-president (internal) of AUFSJ. Good said at a subsequent forum that he is affiliated with presidential candidate Christian Fotang’s campaign. The remaining time in the forum was spent answering audience questions, and candidates were given the opportunity to ask each other questions.

Here is the TL;DR version of this forum:

  • President: advocating for students in unpaid practicums
  • Vice-president (operations and finance): extending services on North Campus to CSJ
  • Vice-president (student life): consulting with the AUFSJ and translating UASU services
  • Vice-president (external): advocacy for long-term funding for CSJ
  • Vice-president (academic): bringing affordability and accessibility to CSJ
  • Board of Governors Representative: role of the BoG and commitment to collaboration
  • Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG): provides funding for student-led projects

Presidential candidates discuss advocacy and supports for CSJ, questioned about plans to help students in unpaid practicums

In his opening statement, presidential candidate and former arts councillor Haruun Ali touched on his plans to improve the UASU’s advocacy, build a strong campus community “where we’re ready to mobilize,” create an InfoLink at CSJ, and translate the UASU website into French.

Christian Fotang, presidential candidate and current vice-president (external), talked about supporting French speaking international students, and his plan to continue advocating for more funding for CSJ. “This campus has deserved better for a very long time,” he said.

Arthur Macatangay Christian Fotang, presidential candidate, 2023 CSJ Forum

CSJ currently offers seven undergraduate programs — two of them being education and nursing, both of which have practicums. The candidates were asked about what steps they would take to help students in unpaid practicums, as Ali and Fotang bring up affordability in their platforms.

Fotang said that to help CSJ students in unpaid practicums, he would work with AUFSJ, the Government of Alberta, and the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), to work on long-term and short-term solutions.

“In the long-term, we hope to set up law and change regulation so that they’re able to be compensated, but in the short-term, it’s seeing if emergency funding is possible — emergency supports and current supports can be provided.”

Fotang added that by working directly with affected students in programs such as education, nursing, and kinesiology, issues can be outlined, and then solutions can be worked on. He added that he plans to “talk about the issues, direct-protest, or do whatever we need to do to just start the conversation.”

“I can’t promise and say that we’ll fix the issue of unpaid practicums right now, but we can at least start the conversation of not normalizing the fact that our students, student teachers … aren’t properly looked after and compensated for.”

Arthur Macatangay Haruun Ali, presidential candidate, 2023 CSJ Forum

Ali responded that unpaid practicums are “labor exploitation,” and that he plans to advocate to the government for legislation.

He added that he’s worked with Lionel Liu, a kinesiology councillor on Students’ Council, to bring this issue to the current UASU executive team.

“We have advocated to the executive team to include this as a priority. Unfortunately, I don’t think it did end up becoming a priority.”

Ali said that he thinks a solution is building the capacity needed for direct-action on all campuses, including CSJ.

“We do not have the capacity to do direct-action right now … I think that lobbying, and I think how we build that capacity up these next two years is crucial.”

-Lily Polenchuk

VP Ops Fi candidates discuss extension of UASU services to the CSJ campus

For their opening statements, Levi Flaman and Fateh Arslan, vice-president (operations and finance) candidates, talked about the importance of communication between the UASU and AUFSJ. Flaman did his opening statement in French.

During the forum, Flaman and Arslan were questioned on how they would respond to accessibility issues of services such as Infolink and Dewey’s, due to those services only being available on North Campus. 

Arslan hopes to work on opening a business similar to Dewey’s on CSJ.

“I don’t want it to be exactly Dewey’s. I want to keep that feeling of CSJ intact because CSJ has a different vibe from North Campus and this is what makes CSJ very special.”

Flaman similarly expressed interest in supporting potential business endeavors that the AUFSJ may want to undertake.

“The less you have to go to North Campus, the easier it’s going to make it for your life here.”

Arthur Macatangay Vice-president (operations and finance) candidates, 2023 CSJ Forum

A volunteer from The Gateway asked Arslan and Flaman if they would continue trying to expand the Campus Food Bank (CFB) to CSJ. Arslan plans to continue previous work accomplished by Joannie Fogue, the current vice-president (student life).

“CFB has obviously been one of the biggest topics last year,” he said. “With the mentorship of Joannie, hopefully, I’ll keep that program going.”

Flaman commented on the difficulties of taking on more services.

“A lot of my platform is focused more on reducing expenses, and increasing revenue because if we want to expand, or implement any of these kinds of services, that’s going to cost money, and that’s money that we don’t really have right now.”

He mentioned that WECAN Food Basket society is used regularly at CSJ, and can be “something that we rely on” as an interim solution.

A volunteer from The Gateway asked the candidates about the challenges of expanding services to CSJ, and what they could realistically accomplish in their term. Both candidates acknowledged the lack of time and money they would have to accomplish this task. They both expressed hope that their successors would continue on whatever plans they begin in their terms. 

“Something will get started next year and if I’m elected there will be at least plans, and hopefully by the end of my term it will be put into action,” Arslan said.

-Dylana Twittey

VPX candidate discusses investments and advocacy for CSJ

Chris Beasley, candidate for vice-president (external), did his opening statement in French. He spoke about the importance of French education; as someone who was born in Québec and lived in Montreal for ten years, he has been in French immersion programs for the majority of his life.

Arthur Macatangay Chris Beasley, vice-president (external) candidate, 2023 CSJ Forum

He also talked about the importance of offering more courses for students, investing in the changing of infrastructure, funding students’ services, and working with AUFSJ to put pressure on the provincial government.

Beasley was asked about what tools he would use to continue advocating for long-term funding for post-secondary institutions in minority communities, such as CSJ.

“The first part of the plan is going to be listening to AUFSJ,” Beasley replied. “I have some plans to lean more on our provincial advocacy CAUS, to focus on a lot of things that affect every student in the province of Alberta.”

He said that these issues include sexual-violence prevention, tuition, affordability, and funding for mental health. By advocating for these issues through CAUS, “that frees up a lot of UASU bandwidth,” so that they can have more conversations and advocacy done about specific issues on North Campus, CSJ, and Augustana Campus — including advocacy for the Maskwa House.

Beasley talked about the importance of building relationships with Francophone organizations, and engaging with the media.

“I think hosting pressers is always a good idea — getting out in front of the media and talking to people.”

-Lily Polenchuk

Vice-president (academic) candidates aim to regularly meet with representatives of CSJ, and expand the services offered

In his opening statement, vice-president (academic) candidate Pedro Almeida said that if elected, he would organize a bilingual advising hub, allowing students to navigate academic advising, and limiting confusion for CSJ students pursuing classes on North Campus.

Candidate Rowan Morris discussed the lack of French-language services offered by the University of Alberta, namely in BearTracks. Lastly, candidate Milan Regmi gave his opening remarks in French, where he addressed increasing representation for CSJ.

Arthur Macatangay Vice-president (academic) candidates, 2023 CSJ Forum

Candidates were asked what initiatives they would explore to promote affordability in this portfolio.

Regmi said he wants to make textbooks more affordable.

“Tuition is going up and it’s continuing to rise. It’s not getting any easier when you have to pay for textbooks as an added cost.”

He suggested a system for textbook trading and renting, as well as a library database, where students can see if their textbook for a course is offered by that library. 

Morris discussed an increase in the value that students receive for the tuition increases. While instructors are experts in their chosen field, “they may not know how to teach,” Morris said.

“We need to look at how to make our university as worth it as possible with the money we’re already being forced to pay.” 

Morris added that he’d aim to advocate for more funding in loan programs and scholarships, in addition to protesting further tuition increases. Lastly, Morris said that he would like to create a tutoring system that offers payment options on a sliding scale.

“I really want to make sure we’re getting a return investment and cultivating our campus.”

Almeida discussed the expansion of the affordability programs, like the Zero Cost textbook program, as well as cooperation with the vice-president (operations and finance) to increase access to resources for Campus Saint-Jean students. 

“Possible reallocation of tuition costs between students is the work that should be shared between the vice-president (academic) and vice-president (operations and finance),” said Almedia. However, he added that “ensuring the most value with the least amount of cost … should be the work of all executive positions.”

Rowan Morris UASU Elections 2023
Amanda Sparks

Candidates also discussed their plans to meet with students of CSJ. Morris suggested regular standing meetings, saying that, “I don’t want to speak for CSJ [rather be] reiterating and elevating.”

Regmi raised his platform promise to organize a monthly town hall, which would include AUFSJ and would be an opportunity to ask questions about “what’s going on behind closed doors,” as well as increase seats in governance for underrepresented faculties.

Almeida also promised to have bi-weekly meetings with representatives from CSJ.

Candidates had the opportunity to ask one another questions. Morris raised that Almeida does not mention CSJ once in his platform.

“That is very true,” Almeida said. “CSJ does not show up on my platform. But if you’ve noticed neither does Augustana or North Campus and that’s because all campuses are equally important,” he said.

-Amanda Sparks

VPSL candidate discusses representing CSJ through initiatives, bilingual advocacy

Vice-president (student life) candidate Michael Griffiths, who is also the current president of the Lister Hall Students’ Association (LHSA), spoke about representing the interests of French-speaking CSJ students through initiatives like translation and consultation. 

Griffiths spoke of extending programs like the period equity initiative, CFB programs, and the zero-waste program. 

Arthur Macatangay Michael Griffiths, vice-president (student life) candidate, 2023 CSJ Forum

In his opening remarks, he noted that his “approach must be different” from Fogue, who is a French student from CSJ.

“In order to represent you folks, my approach must be guided in consultation,” he said.

A member of The Gateway asked how Griffiths intends to coordinate with AUFSJ.

Griffiths said that, if elected, he would schedule monthly meetings in order to properly represent students at CSJ. Additionally, he mentioned continuing the work of Fogue, who he said has “put the framework in place for really properly representing CSJ.”

A member of The Gateway asked about Griffiths’ plan to translate UASU services into French, asking for more detail than what is currently in his platform. 

Griffiths explained that he has not released his full platform yet, but he wishes to translate services like Student Group Services’ Event Organizer Training and Group Leader Orientation, as well as the application for the UASU’s Event Grant, into French. 

“There’s no excuse at this point, as a bilingual campus, for us not to offer those in French as well. If we’re gonna offer them to all students, they should be accessible to all students,” he said.

-Olivia O’Neill

BoG representative informs CSJ students what his role would be

Stephen Raitz is the only candidate for Board of Governors (BoG) representative this year. 

He said that he makes up for not knowing French with his “willingness to collaborate, to converse, to connect, and ensure that we’re working towards goals together regardless of where we’re coming from within the different campuses.”

Raitz explained to the crowd what the BoG representative does, and the responsibilities that come with “the least sexy position of all time.”

“It’s really on me to do the outreach, and to connect and work with my counterparts in the SU.” 

He expanded on the idea of collaboration by stating he has already met with AUFSJ leaders in preparation for his campaign.

“One meeting doesn’t say a lot, but I look forward to — if elected — being able to carry on the conversation,” he said.

There was also the acknowledgement that although CSJ received funding last year, it is coming to an end, and Raitz will have to ensure that there is continued funding in the upcoming year.

He was asked by Jillian Aisenstat, vice-president (internal) for AUFSJ, about his proposed commitment to making sure that he will be informed of CSJ issues and concerns. 

Arthur Macatangay Stephen Raitz, Board of Governors Representative candidate, 2023 CSJ Forum

Raitz responded that he is committed to consultation and connection, and emphasized that different approaches are required.

“The issue that occurs is sometimes we think a one-size-fits-all approach is going to work for North Campus, for CSJ, for Augustana,” he said. “We’re not applying those different lenses that we should, to the other campuses that exist.”

He added how he will not only be present in formal advocacy settings like meeting with AUSFJ, but also in a community a sense, like attending social events.

-Lale Fassone

Election is APIRG’s last chance to restore funding, office coordinator says

Tristan Turner, Alberta Public Interest Research Group (APIRG)’s office coordinator, represented the referendum at the CSJ forum.

“APIRG is a student-run, non-profit that for 22 years, has funded hundreds of projects designed by undergraduates,” Turner said. APIRG offers free services to undergraduate students including printing and workshops for student groups, among other things.

They also provide over $50,000 a year in direct grants that go toward student projects. The student fee has been decreased by 10 per cent, and the referendum is proposing a fee of $3.50 per semester for full-time students, and $1.75 for part-time students.

“This election is APIRG’s last chance to restore that funding for those $50,000 a year in grants that we give, and it will not be able to operate without your support.”

-Lily Polenchuk

Arthur Macatangay Tristan Turner, APIRG Office Coordinator, 2023 CSJ Forum

CORRECTION: This article was updated March 5 at 5:50 p.m. to correct the spelling of Lionel Liu’s name. The Gateway regrets this error.

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Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the current 2022-23 News Editor and former 2022-23 Staff Reporter at The Gateway. She is in her first year, studying English and political science. She loves skiing, longboarding, a caramel latte anytime in the day, and animated tv comedies.

Lale Fassone

Lale Fassone is a first-year Media studies major and Linguistics minor. When she isn’t procrastinating her mountain-high workload or when not trying to learn yet another language, she can be found potentially working, writing, reading, or eating strawberries while watching the same rom-com over again.

Dylana Twittey

Dylana is the 2022-2023 Deputy News Editor. She is a first-year student studying history. In her free time, she enjoys watching 90s Law and Order, cooking, and rereading her favourite books for the fifth time.

Amanda Sparks

Amanda Sparks is the current 2022-23 Staff Reporter for The Gateway. She is in her final year of a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in English. When she has time, you can usually find her under a pile of blankets crying over fictional characters, baking, hiking, or spending time with her cat.

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