Experience hugely differentiates 2024 presidential candidates

Griffiths’ time on the SU executive set him apart from Glock during this forum, but it’s unclear if that will continue to define this campaign in further forums.

At the Augustana Campus forum in the 2024 Students’ Union (SU) election, sustainability policies and relationships with the satellite campuses defined the presidential race. While the initial platform ideas don’t differentiate the candidates much, experience certainly does.  

Michael Griffiths is currently serving as the vice-president (student life) (VPSL) of the SU. So far in this race, that has set him apart from the other candidate, Lisa Glock. 

Glock’s points in regards to Augustana revolved around a “holistic view” of sustainability at the university. She emphasized she doesn’t want sustainability to be an “afterthought that we sprinkle in.” Rather, sustainability should be something that is involved within university policy every step of the way. Yet, her ideas on holistic sustainability didn’t seem to run very deep. Glock suggested band-aid solutions like water filters, better Wifi, and motion sensored lights. While she is right — every bit does matter — now is the time to present big ideas for the year. Glock does have some good ideas, but her platform seems better suited for the VPSL portfolio, not president.

Overall, sustainability was better addressed by Griffiths. He has a more coherent view of what campus life is like at Augustana due to his experience as VPSL. While Glock focused on smaller projects, Griffiths set his sights on bigger ideas, such as getting funding to student groups through the SU’s Sustainability and Capital Fund’s Green Fund Grant, worth over $10,000. Smaller projects cannot happen without dedicated funding, which Griffiths was aware of. He addressed the need for SU investor money to be dedicated to the cause. In this area, Griffiths’ role as chair of the SU’s sustainability committee served him well. 

Glock also brought up coordinating a bus between Camrose and Edmonton — a big topic at the Augustana forum. This is important and nearly every candidate addressed this — including Griffiths. However, to me, the bus idea seems like a cop-out, and an idea brought up by candidates who didn’t do their homework. Each year, candidates promise a bus between Camrose and Edmonton, but don’t delve deeper than that. It’s unfair to Augustana students for candidates to nag on this one issue, and not address other issues as well. Especially when these students brought up the issues that they’re concerned about in the forum.

Unfortunately, Glock didn’t have many specific ideas for Augustana. Her ideas were vague and all encompassing to the University of Alberta as a whole. This is disappointing coming from a presidential candidate, as now was her time to really connect with Augustana students. Yet, Glock only gave them sweeping generalizations instead. While Glock might have good ideas, she can’t offer each campus the exact same platform and hope it sticks. Now was the time to bring up Augustana specific issues, and she dropped the ball.

One of the biggest issues Augustana has faced year-after-year is the relationship between their campus and North Campus. Namely, initiatives that start at North Campus that don’t extend to the satellite campuses, like Augustana and Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ). Augustana students echoed these concerns, asking how the presidential candidates intend to foster their relationships with Augustana. 

Glock expressed wanting to connect with the student leaders and groups with pre-existing relationships with Augustana students, but once again, Griffiths’ experience proved to be advantageous. 

During his time as VPSL, Griffiths was able to foster a relationship with Adrian Lam, the SU councillor for Augustana. He also attended outreach initiatives with the other SU executives, allowing him to develop a relationship with Augustana prior to the campaign. While Glock might have good ideas, this relationship has really allowed Griffiths to have an accurate sense of what Augustana needs, and has given him something to build-off of moving forward.

While Griffiths’ pre-existing relationship with Augustana is definitely helpful, Griffiths was sure not to entirely rely on that, which is what really set him apart. During his opening speech, he shared anecdotes about his personal experience growing up in a small town, showing he really understands important aspects of Augustana’s campus culture. I’m curious to see how this relationship extends to the CSJ forum, where Griffiths won’t have a strong personal connection.

Personal connections and experience put Griffiths ahead, but how this will continue in further forums remains to be seen. While Glock has good overall ideas, she needs to expand the specifics further to reach all areas of the U of A. 

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

Related Articles

Back to top button