Experience and preparation continues to define presidential race

While Griffiths has more experience, it was his preparation and well-thought-out platform that really set him apart from Glock.

At the Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) forum, the 2024 presidential candidates took vastly different approaches to CSJ advocacy. One reflected a deeper understanding of the campus, and the other presented half-thought-out solutions and weak promises.

CSJ students raised many concerns, focusing primarily on the lack of student resources and erasure of their unique campus culture. Candidate Michael Griffiths presented ideas that build upon his work as Students’ Union (SU) vice-president (student life) (VPSL) with a presidential lens. This was contrasted to Lisa Glock’s ideas, which seemed shallow and not well-researched in comparison. 

Prior to the CSJ forum, Griffiths had built a relationship with the French campus, similar to his relationship with Augustana. Having been VPSL this year is truly turning into Griffiths’ biggest asset. That’s not to say that a student without previous SU knowledge can’t run. However, Glock seems to be relying on her lack of experience to make up for her lack of research.

“As I have not held a position on student governance before, I haven’t been able to work as much as I would like to with international students,” Glock said in response to a question asking presidential candidates what their advocacy for international students has historically looked like.

However, this seems like an excuse. In her introduction, Glock cites other advocacy work she’s done, like running the Sustainable Development Goals Student Alliance. However, she failed to cite previous advocacy work until the end of her response, which ended up hurting her. 

Then, when given the opportunity to talk about her interactions with CSJ students, she referenced the Flying Canoe Festival. This was confusing to me, as this is a city-hosted event that takes place in Edmonton’s French Quarter. While having that experience with Edmonton’s Francophone community is great, it’s unfair to CSJ to lump them in with the rest of the Francophone community. You wouldn’t go to a festival downtown and say you have a taste of campus culture just because both are in Edmonton. 

This is obviously a big concern for CSJ students, who asked Griffiths and Glock how they would protect CSJ culture and ensure CSJ-specific advocacy. 

Griffiths’ ideas were stronger, understanding that CSJ is its “own ecosystem.” Clearly, he understands clumping CSJ in with North Campus just bogs down any advocacy and initiatives they need. Griffiths promised to elevate CSJ voices themselves, keeping them and their advocacy entirely separated from North Campus. Doing so would allow CSJ to be heard for their unique issues, which is important when preserving diverse cultures.

Where I hesitate with Griffiths is believing he’ll follow through. During his time as VPSL, he had many wins, which can’t be discredited. However, CSJ got significantly less attention than the other campuses did during his term. I’m worried Griffiths will neglect CSJ’s specific needs again. But, I can give him the benefit of the doubt, and hope he turns this into a growth opportunity. 

While I might be worried about Griffiths’ ability to follow through, I’m even more worried about Glock’s approach in the first place. When asked about ensuring CSJ is heard, Glock suggested unifying the campuses to provide a united, larger voice. This might seem like a good idea on the surface, but it disregards the concerns CSJ students had at the forum in the first place. Namely, they’re worried they’ll be clumped together with Augustana, and being talked over by North Campus. 

Glock claims to be “learning about the campuses on their terms,” but doesn’t seem to be listening to the concerns that are being explicitly mentioned in the questions. Additionally, it seems that all this learning about the campuses happens at the forums — not ahead of time. Lack of experience does not excuse lack of preparation.

Ultimately, Griffiths’ has been taking this campaign to suggest new ideas and expand on his work as VPSL in new areas, such as the Board of Governors (BoG). Unique ideas for CSJ and Augustana shows Griffiths is committed to the entire student body, and has thought about how his role relates to each campus individually. Meanwhile, Glock’s lack of preparation and broad ideas has been her biggest hindrance in this race. While it’s far from over, Glock needs to seriously refine her thoughts if she wants to keep up with Griffiths. 

Anna Bajwa-Zschocke

Anna was the 2023-24 Opinion Editor and is in media studies. Usually she can be found amongst colour coded sticky notes, nerding out about European history, bad reality TV, or some new book

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