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SU Elections 2024: Augustana Forum Recap

The first University of Alberta Students' Union 2024 elections forum was held at Augustana Campus in Camrose.

NOTE: The Gateway is running a DFU campaign in the 2024 Students’ Union Elections. We will be covering our campaign in a strict environment that strives to promote impartiality, transparency, and fairness. If you’d like more information, please see our statement or Conflict of Interest Plan.

The first forum of the University of Alberta Students’ Union (SU) 2024 elections was held at Augustana Campus on February 27. The event was offered in-person and online.

Candidates were given two minutes each for opening statements, and each race was asked a question by the SU’s Deputy Returning Officer, Sithara Naidoo. Afterwards, audience members had the opportunity to ask questions directed to specific races.

Here is the TL;DR version of this forum:

  • President: sustainability, accessibility, and engagement issues at Augustana
  • Vice-president (external): transportation issues, SU engagement with Augustana students
  • Vice-president (operations and finance): business ventures, student services, and why Augustana should care about the role
  • Vice-president (academic): access to services, experiential learning, and research opportunities
  • Vice-president (student life): accessibility for resources and supports for mental health 
  • Board of Governors Representative: creating virtual platform for anonymous concerns 
  • International Students’ Association: provides programs, events, and services to international students 
  • The Gateway: reports on campus news

Presidential candidates discuss sustainability measures and student engagement

Presidential candidate Lisa Glock began her opening statement by stating the three main issues she’s campaigning on — holistic sustainability, safety and gender issues, and community building. Community building is especially relevant for Augustana, Glock said.

Lisa Glock Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Lisa Glock, presidential candidate.

“The community building issue is one that’s very big for you guys here — community across the campuses, community across faculties, and amongst individuals,” Glock said. 

At the end of her statement, Glock said she was looking forward to getting to know Augustana.

Following Glock, presidential candidate and current Vice-president (student life) Michael Griffiths spoke. During his time as vice-president (student life), Griffiths said he worked to advocate for Augustana. Specifically, Griffiths said he worked to get the Augustana Students’ Association (ASA) access to the Residence Improvement Fund. Additionally, Griffiths and the ASA worked to create a residence representative position on the Council of Residence Associations, which will be elected in the new term. 

Michael Griffiths Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Michael Griffiths, presidential candidate.

“It’s really exciting to get that voice at the table on North Campus for Augustana,” Griffiths said.

Naidoo asked the presidential candidates what initiatives they would undertake to promote sustainability at Augustana.

Griffiths said that as vice-president (student life), he also serves as chair for the UASU Sustainability Committee. Setting up a similar committee at Augustana is a possibility, Griffiths said.

Additionally, Griffiths said one of his campaign goals about sustainability is developing an investment policy. This policy would help the SU take into account a company’s environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) metrics when choosing their investments.

Following this, Griffiths addressed transit between Augustana and Camrose, as well as other campuses. He said he plans on prioritizing transit and “reigniting the conversation” with the City of Camrose, City of Edmonton, the provincial and federal governments, and the university. 

“If students are commuting back-and-forth to Camrose every day, that’s a sustainability conversation. We should have reliable buses and transit,” Griffiths said.

Glock said she wants to approach sustainability holistically. She said this can mean improving water fountains to discourage plastic bottle usage; improving WiFi and charging outlets to encourage students to stay on campus longer; and providing sustainable menstrual product options.

Glock also addressed the difficulties of travelling between Camrose and Edmonton. She said that there are government funds for sustainable initiatives.

“If we do something like leverage the sustainability of something like an environmentally friendly vehicle … it might improve our arguments there.”

During the open forum, the presidential candidates were asked about how they would connect with Augustana students.  

Glock answered that the SU executives should be accessible to students, such as by having office hours at Augustana. As well, Glock plans to talk to student groups about the specific issues that they focus on, as they are “essentially experts in their niche field.”

“We want to talk to the people who are on the ground doing the work. That way we will get the best information. I want to remain open and in-contact even when I’m not here in-person. I want you to be able to reach out to me,” Glock said.

Griffiths replied that he would continue to build on the relationships he has already established with the ASA. Additionally, Griffiths said he would continue to visit Augustana.

“We’re always about keeping those open lines of communication. The students should feel like the executives — the president in particular — are there to represent them. They should feel comfortable reaching out to those folks.”

-Dylana Twittey

Vice-president (external) candidates discuss transportation issues from and to North Campus, promise SU engagement with students

In his opening statement, vice-president (external) candidate Abdul Abbasi listed the three focal points of his platform — affordability, education on sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention, and mental health advocacy. 

Abdul Abbasi Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Abdul Abbasi, vice-president (external) candidate.

He followed-up by addressing transportation difficulties between North Campus and Augustana.

“Transportation between Camrose and Edmonton is always a hot topic. It’s always something that all of us want done,” Abbasi said.

As an Augustana student, Abbasi said he wants to make sure Augustana has better representation. 

“The support we have on-campus and off-campus is not very good at Camrose. I want to … consult with everyone and make sure that Augustana is better represented.”

Vice-president (external) candidate Logan West also outlined the issue of transportation. She added that it is not only a problem for Augustana students but other marginalized students as well. 

Logan West Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Logan West, vice-president (external) candidate.

“When people need a doctor’s appointment, they’re unable to access that because they have to go into the city. Then you’re paying around $300 there and back. That’s not acceptable. Students who need to go to an embassy to get visas are not getting that need met without having it come out of their pockets,” West said.

Naidoo asked the two candidates about how they will address the issue of transportation and housing.

Both outlined the need to work with the cities of Camrose and Edmonton on transportation to advance on the “groundwork” already laid-out by previous executives.

West said that there are funds available for options such as rural or zero-emission transit. She added that students shouldn’t have to pay for a taxi between Camrose and Edmonton due to the lack of transit. 

“[Students are] not afraid to pay $5, $10, $20, [or] whatever it is for a bus. They don’t want to be paying $300 for a taxi ride there and back. That’s not something that is excusable. We are in an affordability crisis.”

Abbasi said that Camrose is not facing a housing problem compared to Edmonton. But, “we need to make students know — especially international students — where to go [for housing] in case they need it.”

During the open forum, an audience member asked how the candidates would ensure engagement between students and the SU.

Abbasi said he would ensure that the SU has more of a presence at Augustana through programs like the Week of Welcome. 

West emphasized the need for the use of social media in making sure the SU gets across to all students with possible incentives like the SU’s Perks app.

-Lale Fassone

Vice-president (operations and finance) candidates discuss services and supports for Augustana

Levi Flaman, who is running to be re-elected as vice-president (operations and finance), explained that because his role is more internal, he hasn’t been that involved with Augustana. However, he said that issues between North Campus and Augustana are similar.

For example, Flaman said that during conferences at other campuses, he’d stop and take pictures of vending machines. He said he would think of the “vending machine initiative, with the difference of period equity products.”

levi flaman
Jonas Smith Levi Flaman, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate.

“It’s always at the forefront of my mind that a lot of the stuff we have on North Campus still affects [Augustana] students.”

As well, Flaman said there are “a lot of inefficiencies within the SU” regarding groups that it works with, which he’d work on if re-elected. Flaman also mentioned how the SU built HUB mall on North Campus in the 60s, and he’d look into building or buying buildings to address Augustana’s “decrepit, old” residence buildings.

Following Flaman, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate Joachim Bony spoke. He said he’s qualified to support Augustana as he’s served as vice-president (operations and finance) for the Association des universitaires de la faculté Saint-Jean (AUFSJ) at Campus Saint-Jean (CSJ).

Bony said efficiency is his key point. He said the SU offers many services, but “not enough of those services impact students.”

Joachim Bony Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Joachim Bony, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate.

Naidoo asked the candidates why Augustana students should care about the vice-president (operations and finance) role when many of the SU-owned businesses are on North Campus. 

Bony reiterated his commitment to the student body and promised services that respond to student needs. He said that “we always need to have access to more resources and support.”

Following Bony, Flaman talked about pursuing a possible business venture at Augustana, such as an ASA campus bar. 

Flaman explained his “big pitch” this year is non-student revenue. He said this includes campus-owned businesses that fund themselves.

“If you were to open something and get money from the surrounding community, that’s not coming out of student pockets. That’s more money in your coffers,” Flaman said.

An audience member asked the candidates to what extent they think the SU should allocate resources to Augustana.

Flaman replied that it is difficult to make the case to divert funds from North Campus or CSJ to Augustana when “the numbers aren’t there.”

He added that “it’s kind of a chicken and egg problem” where investing money to grow services can show if there’s a demand that “you might not know exists yet.”

“That would just become a self-fulfilling prophecy where things start going from there. That’s something we need to take the lead on.” 

Bony said that proportionality “already exists to a certain degree within the funding model the SU has for campus associations.” 

However, he said additional services that support students could be provided. As well, he said the SU can help student groups and campus associations access grants.

-Declan Carpenter-Hall

Vice-president (academic) candidates discuss student opportunities and accessibility to services

In her opening remarks, vice-president (academic) candidate, Farah Elgaweesh, said she has done “extensive consultation” with students to better understand their concerns across U of A campuses. She said this included getting feedback from the ASA.

Farah Elgaweesh Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Farah Elgaweesh, vice-president (academic) candidate.

”A huge issue that was brought up was the communication and connection between North Campus and Augustana,” Elgaweesh said. She cited student concerns relating to academic credits not being transferred between campuses. 

In addition to increasing consultations on academic matters between the two campuses, Elgaweesh said centralizing academic opportunities was a part of her platform. She mentioned she would work on updating CampusBRIDGE to include more research opportunities and extend it more to Augustana.

Vice-president (academic) candidate, Layla Alhussainy, said that she was aware of both student and faculty concerns from her experiences as vice-president (internal) of the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS), and as a member of the General Faculties Council (GFC). 

Layla Alhussainy Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Layla Alhussainy, vice-president (academic) candidate.

“The vice-president (academic) role ranges from small material concerns, to more abstract issues,” Alhussainy said. She added that in her position, she would tackle accessibility issues, such as modifying BearTracks for ease of students’ access. Additionally, she would advocate for students’ access to academic counselors and classes. She would also address problems concerning academic integrity. 

“Every campus, faculty [member], and student deserves to be represented and have an inclusive learning environment,” Alhussainy said. 

Naidoo asked both candidates what their strategy is for increasing experiential learning and undergraduate research opportunities at Augustana. 

Alhussainy said that it is “essential” for students to have equal opportunities. She said this will be done through improved access to resources and services, based on areas of growth identified through student feedback. 

“It is essential to identify and adjust the barriers that impact students’ academic success,” Alhussainy said. 

Elgaweesh replied she would work with other SU executives to connect Augustana and North Campus to access experiential learning opportunities. As well, she said she would consult with the Undergraduate Research Initiative (URI) to “ensure that students [at] Augustana are aware of opportunities available.” 

“Students’ awareness of opportunities is usually the limiting factor … for when they are trying to access research or experiential learning opportunities,” Elgaweesh said. She added that ensuring that Augustana students are not “hinder[ed] by how far they are from North Campus,” is a part of her platform. 

During open forum, the audience did not ask either candidate any questions.

-Aparajita Rahman

Vice-president (student life) candidates discuss accessibility and additional resources for Augustana

In his opening statement, vice-president (student life) candidate Adrian Lam highlighted the importance of supports for students, community building, and diverse representation. 

“I’ve been grateful for the opportunities and being able to advocate and learn about the issues that students are facing, not only at Augustana, but across all three of our campuses,” Lam said. 

Adrian Lam Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Adrian Lam, vice-president (student life) candidate.

Lam said he hopes to build connections within campus communities, as well as the “external community of the City of Camrose.” 

Following Lam, Renson Alva discussed his goals surrounding accessibility and his presence at Augustana. 

“I aim to commit to being on Augustana Campus in-person every month as part of my office hours. I would like to work on a more long-term solution for [being accessible to students].” 

Renson Alva Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Renson Alva, vice-president (student life) candidate.

Naidoo asked the candidates how they plan to address accessibility issues for services such as mental health supports for Augustana students. 

Alva said he’d like to work with the ASA to create these necessary programs for Augustana students. 

“Counselors might not be culturally competent in the needs of such a diverse, extended campus as I’ve seen here. I’d like to hear more about my audience and do intentional programming here working with the ASA.” 

Following Alva, Lam said that mental health and SGBV resources are an important part of his platform. 

“Our supports have to be diverse and they have to be accessible to students no matter where they are.”  

During the open forum, ASA Vice-president (student life) Sarah Nagel asked the candidates how they plan to assist Augustana in providing more equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) events and efforts for students. Nagel asked about the potential for getting more Augustana staff to participate in EDI events. 

Lam discussed an EDI plan and the U of A’s Student Experience Action Plan (SEAP). He said these documents can be used to “make staff more receptive and … more involved in the campus community.” 

Alva said he plans to speak to Augustana students to establish EDI programming on campus. He said that because the U of A is a top-five Canadian institution, it should be able to “transfer [EDI programming] to Augustana.”

An Augustana student asked the candidates how they will ensure students have access to health care, since access is difficult in Camrose and Augustana. 

Alva began by addressing the disparity between health-care resources available to North Campus students as opposed to Augustana students. He said that services such as the University Health Centre in the Student’s Union Building (SUB) could be implemented at Augustana. 

“That’s something we could look into at Augustana. It’s a long-term perspective,” he said. 

Lam emphasized bringing services like The Landing to Augustana as an additional resource for students. He also discussed the need for LGBTQIA2+ and SGBV resources for Augustana. 

“Those are issues that students should not have to face when they’re in university. It should be something that the university [itself] takes a stance on for the betterment of all of our students.”

-Peris Jones

BoG representative says she will create virtual platform where students can anonymously submit their concerns 

Adrien Lam, the sole candidate for the Board of Governors (BoG) representative race, attended the Augustana forum online due to sickness.

In her opening remarks, she said the BoG representative “is an important, yet overlooked role elected to voice students’ concerns within the university’s top decision-making body.” 

Lam said that not many students were aware of the BoG representative’s role, or where to go to address “key issues that directly impact student life, like tuition.” She also mentioned issues pertaining to Augustana students, such as delays in accessing academic advising and a lack of available classes. 

”One of the main critiques last year was that students from both Augustana and CSJ felt that their concerns were lumped together,” Lam added. 

To combat this, Lam proposed creating a virtual platform with her computer programming skills, to receive concerns and feedback anonymously from Augustana, CSJ, and North Campus students.

“I can take a look at the top concerns regarding the three campuses, and bring it up to [BoG] equally,” Lam explained. 

”I’m committed to working closely with all of you and addressing these challenges, and ensuring that your voices are heard.” 

Naidoo asked what measures Lam would take so Augustana students can feel well-represented at BoG, “despite being away from the action.”

Lam repeated that students from Augustana and CSJ could anonymously post their concerns and feedback onto her virtual platform. 

She added that she would “filter out … commonly seen [concerns]” through an algorithm. In addition, Lam said she would create polls where students could vote on changes they would like to see. 

To increase student engagement, Lam said she would communicate with ASA and other clubs based at Augustana “to get everybody involved.”  

During open forum, Lam was not asked any questions from the audience. 

-Aparajita Rahman

ISA to allocate referendum fees to creating events for international students at Augustana

The International Students’ Association (ISA) referendum was virtually presented by Ramesh Raza, co-vice-president (student life).

The proposed faculty association membership fee (FAMF) is $5.00 for full-time undergraduate international students and $2.50 for part-time undergraduate international students, per fall and winter semester. The fee would apply to all U of A campuses for a three-year term. It would not apply to off-campus students in co-ops and internships. Students may opt-out of the fee. 

According to Raza, the FAMF goes toward providing international students with programs and services, like discounts through the International Students’ Benefit Card (I-Card). In addition, Raza said the funds also provide students with awards, mental health workshops, and events, such as International Students’ Day (I-Day). 

Over the past few years, there has been a “gap in collaboration with Augustana students,” Raza said. He said the ISA is planning to collaborate with the ASA and Augustana’s international student representative, to host more events local to Augustana. 

-Aparajita Rahman

The Gateway “know[s] there is a gap in [its] coverage when it comes to Augustana,” board chair says

The Gateway referendum was presented by Emily Williams, chair of the Gateway Student Journalism Society (GSJS). 

Emily Williams Augustana 2024
Jonas Smith Emily Williams, chair of the Gateway Student Journalism Society.

The Gateway’s dedicated fee unit (DFU) would go toward reporting on campus news at the U of A. The proposed fee is $2.64 per fall and winter semester, and $1.32 per spring and summer semester. Students would have the option to opt-out. The fee would start from fall 2024, and continue for a five-year term.

While Augustana students would not pay the fee, Williams said that The Gateway “know[s] there is a gap in [its] coverage when it comes to Augustana.” Williams added that she saw this as an “area for growth, particularly once [The Gateway] has the student fee, and the resources to pursue further relationship building.” 

Upon receiving the student fee, Williams said The Gateway would expand its coverage by doing more guest columns with the ASA, along with student clubs and groups based on-campus. In addition, Williams pitched cross-publishing with The Dagligtale News, Augustana’s student-run newspaper.

“We want to make sure that we’re hearing your voice, and that we’re telling the stories that matter to you.” 

-Aparajita Rahman

CORRECTION: This article was updated on February 28 at 10:23 a.m. to add that Michael Griffiths worked with the Augustana Students Association to create a residence representative position on the Council of Residence Associations. An earlier version of this article said that Griffiths worked with the ASA to create a position on the SU Students’ Council. The Gateway regrets this error.

CORRECTION: This article was updated on February 28 at 11:55 a.m. to correct two misquotes. The first was to add that Logan West discussed funding for rural transit, not “oil transit” as was initially reported. The second was that Adrian Lam said he was excited to learn about the issues Augustana students are facing. An earlier version of this article quoted Lam as saying he was excited to read about issues impacting students. The Gateway regrets these errors.

Lale Fassone

Lale Fassone is a second-year student studying media studies and linguistics. She served as the Deputy Arts and Culture Editor in spring 2022. 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.

Peris Jones

Peris Jones is the 2023-24 Deputy News Editor at The Gateway. She is in her third year, studying Media Studies and English. In her free time, she loves going to the gym, shopping, and watching movies with her friends.

Aparajita Rahman

Aparajita Rahman is the 2023-24 Staff Reporter at The Gateway. She is in her second year, studying Psychology and English. She enjoys reading, and getting lost on transit.

Dylana Twittey

Dylana Twittey is the 2023-24 News Editor. She is a second-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.

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