SU Election Dissection 2024: President

The panel doesn't fully agree when it comes to who should win the 2024 Students' Union election presidential race.

Every year, The Gateway hosts a panel to discuss the Students’ Union (SU) election. This year’s panellists 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 Candidates

Lisa Glock, a fourth-year political science and women and gender studies student.

lisa glock myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Lisa Glock, presidential candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

Michael Griffiths, a fifth-year honours political science student and current SU vice-president (student life) (VPSL).

michael griffiths myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Michael Griffiths, presidential candidate, at the 2024 Campus Saint-Jean forum.

Because of Griffiths’ strong presence on campus through postering, and his engaging social media campaign, the panellists agreed that his campaign was above average. While Ali and Gordon thought that Glock’s campaign is also above average — with just less advertising around campus — Co said that it’s fine.

“In the presidential election especially, we’re seeing the gulf between someone who’s run a campaign for SU executive before, and someone who hasn’t,” Co pointed out.

However, there was less agreement among the panel when it came to Glock and Griffiths’ platforms and performances at forums.

Although Gordon found that Glock performed well at the forums, he found Griffiths’ easy-to-understand communication refreshing. Co said that Glock brought an outsider perspective to the forums, while Griffiths brought that of an insider. But, Glock didn’t explain enough how the work she’s done as an outsider makes her a better candidate than Griffiths, Co shared.

Co felt that Glock’s platform is better-suited for VPSL, whereas Ali felt that way about Griffiths. He argued that Glock’s approach to leadership is more important than commitments.

“Glock’s approach stops the broken promises that student executives have been giving to students every year,” Ali said. Gordon, however, said that hard commitments are necessary, or else “we’re losing the actual goal of the SU — to help students.”

Panelists discuss the candidates’ platforms and qualities

The president supports the other executives and sets a tone for what the SU wants to achieve, Co explained. Instead, she wished both candidates “focused their branding more on how the SU is going to fight for the average students. Instead of fixating on items that are nice to have, not critical to have.”

Gordon added to Co’s point and mentioned Glock’s focus on making campus more environmentally conscious. Although environmental sustainability is important, Gordon said, “it’s misplaced to put that at the forefront of her campaign.” Especially considering mental health issues, tuition increases, and the cost-of-living crisis, he added.

Ali honed-in on Glock’s leadership qualities. He said that Glock is most likely not opposed to the “very lofty goals” that make up Griffiths’ platform. Ali liked some points from Griffiths, like evaluating the SU’s alliances with the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and the Canadian Alliance of Student Association, (CASA). But, he said the presidential candidate “should be highlighting things that aren’t talked about as often.”

“Rather than having a catch-all platform, Glock brings a leadership piece to the table. Whereas Griffiths brings a continuation of a VPSL portfolio,” Ali said. However, Co disagreed. She said that although Glock highlighted critical issues, Griffiths had set himself up for success with his connections. Particularly those to Campus Saint-Jean, Augustana Campus, and student leaders.

Co clarified that “the fact that the SU exec was a boys club in 2023 was pathetic.” But, she said that if this elections depends on who can gather support from a larger proportion of students, Griffiths has set himself up to do so.

“I think that Glock would be an excellent SU president in a better world if there was already more support for the SU. I think that Griffiths is probably better for the world that we’re living in now.”

Ali said that while Griffiths will have a better understanding of the role, the SU’s overall problem is its “attitude against outsiders.”

“I think Glock would be a better president for the ideas that she wants to implement,” Ali explained. “That would virtually be the only way possible for her to achieve her vision.”

Gordon said the he’s indifferent to whether or not a candidate has previous SU experience. He said that the student body overall is most likely indifferent as well.

“I don’t think people really care that much about that,” he said. “I think both of their campaigns are quite realistic compared to past ones that I’ve seen — especially for president.”

Co went-off Gordon’s point of indifference to experience. “Griffiths was more fluent in the language,” Co added. “But it doesn’t really matter how fluent you are in the language. It just matters what you have to say.”

For his last point, Ali said that Glock will have to do a lot of learning. But, she’s up for the job and up to learning, listening, and working with students. Gordon said that although he liked Griffiths’ campaign more, both had good platforms.

Co said that even though the SU is a “broken old boys club,” Griffiths’ success as VPSL made his platform goals very achievable.

Who will win: one vote for Glock, two votes for Griffiths

Who should win: one vote for Glock, two votes for Griffiths

Lily Polenchuk

Lily Polenchuk is the 2024-25 Editor-in-Chief of The Gateway. She previously served as the 2023-24 Managing Editor, 2023-24 and 2022-23 News Editor, and 2022-23 Staff Reporter. She is in her second year, studying English and political science.

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