Students deserve realistic ideas from VPSL candidates

Alva and Lam both improved slightly in their ideas from Augustana’s forum when it comes to concrete ideas, yet once again fell short in tangible solutions.

Ensuring that Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ) students were not left behind was a common theme at the CSJ forum yesterday. For the vice-president (student-life) (VPSL) race, the focus was mental health supports and student involvement. While candidates Adrian Lam and Renson Alva did a slightly better job of specifically addressing solutions than they did at the Augustana forum, I still found myself wanting more from them. 

During opening statements, Alva showed interest in wanting active engagement and involvement with CSJ students. If elected, he claimed he would come to CSJ as part of his office hours. This was what he said he would do for the Augustana Campus, as well. While it’s a nice sentiment, I don’t know how feasible it would be. Going to and from North Campus to both Augustana and CSJ each month might result in more commuting, rather than engagement time. Keeping in mind, Alva also has to have a presence on North Campus. 

Once again, his aim to keep up communication with all campuses is admirable. But, he should find a more attainable solution that won’t result in wasted time — for both him and the students he’s trying to engage with. Reaching out virtually to students through a Google Form, survey, or even setting up virtual office hours is doable. Much more so than commuting to both campuses once a month. At the very least, Alva needs to create a more structured plan of what he would do once he was physically on the campuses, rather than waiting for students to just drop by. Student communication ultimately goes both ways.  

While Alva’s approach is not as feasible as it could be, it is better than Lam’s proposed plan for communication with CSJ students. When asked how he would ensure that services and programs are more accessible for CSJ students, Lam mentioned that he would “work with students at CSJ to ensure accessible services needs are met.”

Now, this is all fine and dandy. However, there was no explicit example as to what this kind of work with students would look like. As a VPSL candidate, a main priority should be coming up with measures that facilitate constant communication with students. This is especially true for the satellite campuses of Augustana and CSJ. 

As Lam and Alva have expressed in their platforms, mental health is an extremely important aspect to their campaigns. Yet when asked about what kind of mental health supports they would offer for CSJ, neither candidate had a solid answer. 

Once again, Alva relied on the possibility of funding to implement mental health resources. However, he provided no clarity as to where this funding would come from. During the Augustana forum, Alva mentioned that there might be usable health care funding for queer and international students. Unfortunately, he did the same thing at the CSJ forum. He claimed they would work on funding for ensuring CSJ students have mental health services in French. Yet there was no plan as to what this would look like if — for whatever reason — this mysterious funding was unavailable. 

Lam’s response to the same question was more concrete than Alva’s — but only slightly. He suggested implementing the same virtual mental health resources that are available at Augustana. These are the same mental health resources he said were not sufficient enough at the Augustana forum. And yet, Lam suggested implementing this insufficient system at CSJ. Although, he did acknowledge that this system may work better for CSJ because they aren’t rural, like Augustana.

This virtual mental health service could be a step in the right direction. But, Lam’s blatant disapproval of the service concerns me. Lam has personal experience with this type of mental health service at Augustana. So, he should have suggestions on improving the service. This way, CSJ students aren’t getting a second-hand faulty system. 

These candidates did step-up from last night’s forum from just delivering general statements to somewhat concrete ideas. Yet, I would like to see these ideas be more attainable — ones that recognize students’ needs. 

VPSL candidates must always keep students in mind, and what can realistically be done for them. As a student, I want to know what my VPSL is doing to ensure that my needs are met. Right now, I don’t feel confident that they will. 

Brooklyn Hollinger

Brooklyn is the 2023-24 Deputy Opinion Editor. She is a Classics major and Creative Writing Minor. She is a lover of fantasy books, peach iced tea, and can usually be found obsessing over pictures of her dog Zoey.

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