SU Election Dissection 2024: Board of Governors Representative

The panel agreed that the uncontested Board of Governors representative race will result in a winning candidate, but shouldn't.

Every year, The Gateway hosts a panel to discuss the Students’ Union (SU) election. This year’s panelists provided their insights on the candidates running, student politics, and who students should vote for in the 2024 SU election.

Opinions expressed by the panellists do not reflect those of The Gateway.

The Panel

This year’s panel included:

  • Haruun Ali: fourth-year political science student at the University of Alberta, former SU open studies and arts councillor, and presidential candidate in the 2022 and 2023 SU election
  • Pia Co: The Gateway ’19-20 director of marketing and outreach, ’20-21 online production editor, ’21 editor-in-chief
  • Jared Gordon: third-year finance and economics student at the U of A, current treasurer of the U of A Conservative Club.

The Candidate

Adrien Lam, a fourth-year immunology student.

adrien lam candidate isa forum 2024
Lily Polenchuk Adrien Lam, Board of Governors representative candidate, International Students’ Association forum.

Ali expressed that he saw very little of Lam’s campaign. He said that he had come across Lam’s social media maybe once, and that he hadn’t seen any posters. Ali said he is curious to see if the none of the above (NOTA) vote result will increase compared to past Board of Governors (BoG) representatives.

Gordon said that “no competition is always a bad thing.” Although Lam’s platform is well put-together, Gordon said that he also saw little advertisement on campus.

“Unfortunately, I don’t know if this candidate has given me the confidence that they know what the BoG rep does,” Co added. “And what impact they actually have at the table.”

Ali addressed Lam’s main platform point of creating an anonymous virtual platform for students to submit their concerns to. Lam said she would be able to compile common concerns and bring them to BoG equally. Ali questioned how much students will utilize such a platform, instead of approaching the SU executive.

“There’s also a lot of concerns with how BoG doesn’t really listen to students,” Ali added. “There isn’t a real idea behind this campaign — it just seems like someone that wants to be BoG rep.”

Co said she didn’t want to under-cut Lam’s care for the campus community. But, Co said it’s a cop-out for Lam to say she’ll just collect student voices. She provided an example of students’ opinions being split 50/50 on an issue.

“How can you pull from that information to vote on behalf of students at the BoG level?” Co asked. “Having information doesn’t mean you have a perspective that you’re bringing to the table.”

According to Co, having a perspective is especially important for someone voting at the highest governing body of the U of A. “That to me is a big failure on Lam’s part,” Co said. “That she hasn’t been able to communicate an actual perspective that is her own.”

Gordon agreed with Ali and Co. He said that Lam’s campaign is fine, but he re-iterated that there is no competition.

“Of course it’s not going to be as competitive or as refined,” Gordon added. He questioned, however, Lam’s point that the platform will be able to filter responses based on identity, and if a student identifies as part of a minority.

“It’s a pretty slippery slope. She doesn’t really explain why she does that either,” Gordon said. He explained that this is another issue of the race being uncontested, as “there’s no one really to hold her accountable to this.”

Co said she didn’t understand why the platform would be anonymous. She wondered if it would be stronger to instead collect student narratives that aren’t anonymous.

“I just don’t feel like she’s in touch with students’ needs, because she cannot articulate to me what those needs are,” Co said. “She needs the forum to inform her what the needs are. And that is a big concern.

Ali said that overall, Lam’s campaign “has been very disappointing.” He said that the current BoG representative, Stephen Raitz, did a “phenomenal job” in the role, and he “would like to see that continue.”

Who will win: Three votes for Lam

Who should win: Three votes for NOTA

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2023-24 Managing Editor at The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science. She enjoys skiing, walks in the river valley, and traveling.

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