SU Election Dissection 2024: Referendums and Plebiscites

The panel discussed some of the referendums and plebiscites running in the election.

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.

Due to time constraints, panellists were unable to discuss the Engineering Students’ Society Fee, the HUB Community Association Fee, the International House Fee, the Organization for Art Students and Interdisciplinary Studies Fee, and The Gateway Fee.

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:
  • 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.

“Yes” Side: CJSR

CJSR, the U of A campus radio station, ran an attractive campaign in Co’s opinion. Ali agreed, but said CJSR’s social media campaign was better than the in-person one.

The panel agreed that the work CJSR does in terms of furthering career aspirations is important. But, Gordon questioned how many people listen to CJSR. He said that although it’s beneficial for providing experience in media, the fee should be opt-outable.

Co thought that the proposed fee, $2.18 per semester for full-time students and 90 cents for part-time students, is “paltry” considering it provides access to “all that audio equipment.”

Ali emphasized that CJSR’s cause is “incredibly important.”

Will this pass: Three votes for “yes”

Should this pass: Two votes for “yes,” one vote for “no”

“Yes” Side: International Students’ Association

Gordon said it’s good that international students “have a network to build-off of,” since they’re new to campus, Edmonton, and Canada. However, he said that international students who don’t utilize the International Students’ Association (ISA) should have the ability to opt-out.

The ISA’s proposed fee is $5.00 per semester for full-time undergraduate international students and $2.50 for part-time undergraduate international students. Ali said that the ISA “does really important work” and has done well in advocacy.

“International students deserve to have a voice that’s focused on them,” Ali said. Co noted that the ISA is also a good hub for meeting other international students.

Will this pass: Three votes for “yes”

Should this pass: Three votes for “yes”

“Yes” Side: Indigenous Students’ Union

The panellists all agreed that the Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU) fee should pass. Especially since “reconciliation and colonial structures are still very prudent,” Gordon said. Ali shared that “the value that they provide to this campus community is far beyond a dollar.”

Gordon added that the $1 per student fee isn’t very much, and it seems like the ISU “actually made a strong attempt” to keep the fee this low. Co said the ISU has specific things it uses this money for, which will continue.

Will this pass: Three votes for “yes”

Should this pass: Three votes for “yes”

“Yes” Side: The Landing

Ali thought that The Landing ran a great campaign, and he was happy to see that they’re trying to increase their fee from $1.85 per student per term to $3.75.

“I think that it’s important to have a queer safe space on campus,” Ali said. “I think that it’s crucially important that we as a campus community continue to show solidarity with trans and gender-diverse people.”

Co said that the fee is opt-outable, so students can choose to support The Landing. But, she said The Landing should win because of the multiple services it provides to students. Gordon agreed and said the fee is “really reasonable.” But, he didn’t like that the fee is indexed to Consumer Price Index (CPI), which he said other fees proposed to do as well.

“It doesn’t make any sense, because you’re not voting on the mandate of the $3.75. There’s no control over that,” Gordon said.

Will this pass: Three votes for “yes”

Should this pass: Three votes for “yes”

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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