SU Election Dissection 2024: Vice-President (Student Life)

The panel agreed on which vice-president (student life) candidate is most likely to win, but did not fully agree on the preferred outcome.

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 Candidates

Renson Alva, a fourth-year biological sciences student.

renson alva myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Renson Alva, vice-president (student life) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

Adrian Lam, a fourth-year biology student and current Students’ Council Augustana councillor.

adrian lam myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Adrian Lam, vice-president (student life) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

All three panelists agreed that compared to Lam’s campaign, Alva’s branding was more polished. However, Gordon mentioned that Lam posted more videos in comparison to the other candidates overall, which was a “breath of fresh air.”

Ali pointed out that Lam faced an unfair disadvantage because he is an Augustana Campus student, and was unable to come to North Campus. Gordon said that he wondered why there was less advertising of Lam’s campaign on campus, and this disadvantage was “really unfortunate for this race.”

Lam had to join forums virtually, except for the Augustana and Myer Horowitz forums. Ali said that delivering a speech online would vastly differ from giving a speech in-person. He shared that this “disadvantage should have been solved by the Elections Office.”

Regarding Alva’s forum performance, Ali said he did a “phenomenal job conveying his message.” Ali added that both Alva and Lam were passionate and enthusiastic, and that Lam did the best he could while joining virtually.

Co said that Alva had “superior forum performance.” She added that overall, he did a better job, which Gordon agreed with.

Gordon said that regardless of who wins, he’s interested to see whether points like increased mental health supports “actually materialize.” He applied this to Alva’s goal of hiring more counselors that specifically focus on Indigenous students’ issues.

“I’d be interested to see if that actually materializes or not, because I think that’s a very good thing to have. But if it’s not actually going to transpire, then it’s just empty words at that point,” Gordon shared.

Co mentioned the closure of the U of A Sexual Assault Centre, “a critical campus service.” She said it’s good that both candidates were “very aware that that is a huge focus that they need to take going into this year.”

For Ali, the candidates’ platforms were similar to each other. He explained that Alva and Lam were “saying identical things — the only differentiator is the approach.” Although Ali would’ve liked more promises from Lam, he liked that Lam “highlighted the importance of his approach.”

Ali also circled back to the challenges Lam faced during the campaign. Ali said that if Lam “was willing to work this hard against odds that were against him, this is how hard he’s going to work for students.” But, Ali added that Alva did a really good job of communicating, which will allow him to resonate with students.

Co agreed that Alva had communicated his vision better. One point from Alva’s platform that Co found interesting was addressing physical barriers on campus, such as construction.

“That gives me perspective on how thoughtful he is about other parts of student life that people may not consider.”

Who will win: Three votes for Alva

Who should win: Two votes for Alva, one vote for Lam

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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