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SU Elections 2024: Myer Horowitz Forum Recap Part I

The fifth University of Alberta Students’ Union 2024 elections forum was held at the newly re-opened Myer Horowitz Theatre.

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 fifth forum of the University of Alberta Students’ Union (SU) 2024 elections was held at the Myer Horowitz Theatre in the Students’ Union Building (SUB) on March 4. The event was offered online and in-person.

Jacob Verghese, the chief returning officer (CRO), gave the land acknowledgement. Candidates, referendums, and plebiscites were given one minute and 30 seconds each for opening statements.

This is the first part of the Myer Horowitz Forum recap. Find part two here, and part three here.

Here is the TL;DR version of this forum:

  • President: affordability, community building, serving students
  • Vice-president (external): culturally sensitive mental health counselors, change in the SU
  • Vice-president (operations and finance): maintenance, visibility, and construction improvements
  • Vice-president (academic): accessibility and affordability 
  • Vice-president (student life): wellness and mental health supports, accessibility on all three campuses
  • Board of Governors (BoG) representative: anonymous survey platform 
  • CJSR: teaching students to record podcasts, report news, and interview people 
  • Engineering Students’ Society (ESS): Events and experiences hosted by ESS through their FAMF
  • International Students’ Association (ISA): provides international students with discounts, cultural events
  • Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU): supports Indigenous advocacy and student supports
  • Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS): provides arts student services
  • The Gateway: provides hyper-local campus news
  • The Landing: fee needed to reliably provide services

Presidential candidates share their goals and vision for the role

First, presidential candidate Lisa Glock gave her statement. During her time on campus, Glock said she’s been “deeply involved,” serving as a U of A ambassador, co-running the Sustainable Development Goals Alliance (SDGA), organizing events for Women in Leadership, and sitting on the Student Advisory Committee.

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

“I’m driven to work for my community and seek to amplify my impact through the role of president,” Glock said.

If elected, Glock intends to focus on community building and inclusivity. 

“I will build bridges between individuals, student groups, faculties, and campuses. Centering community building and promoting inclusivity through collaboration, including following the principles set forth by the Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU),” Glock said.

Glock also mentioned wanting to address “safety and gender issues through intersectionality and the feminist lens.” As well, she plans to advocate for the permanent institutionalization of the U of A Sexual Assault Centre (UASAC), classroom accessibility, and improved transit.

Following Glock, Griffiths gave his opening remarks. To begin, Griffiths mentioned how much the university has changed since the last time the Myer Horowitz theatre was open to students. 

michael griffiths myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Michael Griffiths, presidential candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

“The U of A has faced $222 million in cuts over the last four years. And this burden has been placed on the shoulders of students like you and I. Tuition, rent, and food prices skyrocket. And yet, the quality of our education gets worse,” Griffiths said.

According to Griffiths, he is the candidate most qualified to fight for students in light of these issues. 

“Students deserve a president with the experience necessary to lead their SU. Students deserve someone who has proven to you they have what it takes,” Griffiths said.

-Dylana Twittey

Vice-president (external) candidates discuss culturally sensitive mental health counselors and making change

In his opening statement, vice-president (external) candidate Abdul Abbasi talked about the three main points from his platform – affordability, advocating for sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) prevention, and advocating for mental health. 

abdul abbasi at myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Abdul Abbasi, vice-president (external) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

Abbasi said he understands the affordability challenges students may face, as he works two jobs himself. Aside from advocating for affordability, Abbasi said he’d advocate for more university funding and “culturally-sensitive, culturally-trained mental health counselors.”

“So that they can understand the uniqueness of international students and Indigenous students and make sure that they are helped,” Abbasi said. 

In her opening statement, vice-president (external) candidate Logan West talked about her experience in advocacy when she studied abroad in California, and how it inspired her to “show up” and make a change on the U of A campus.

logan west at myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Logan West, vice-president (external) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

“[When] there were no women on the executive team of the SU this year, I feel like my voice was not adequately represented. I wish to be the change that I want to see in my SU,” West said.

West said her platform is guided by affordability, safety and transportation, and health and wellness. All of which are guided by her main goal of advocacy. 

“I want to see our students on this campus more involved in their student governance, and more involved in making their voices heard. Not only to the university but at all levels of government,” West said.

-Lale Fassone

Vice-president (operations and finance) discuss SU services and facilities

In his opening statement, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate Joachim Bony mentioned that he’s currently serving as vice-president (operations and finance) at l‘Association des Universitaires de la Faculté Saint-Jean for a second term.

joachim bony myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Joachim Bony, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

“That’s where I got to know about the concerns facing our students,” he said. Bony said he wants to increase the SU’s visibility, and prioritise “connecting our SU with students and their needs.” As well, he focused on optimising SU services and facility maintenance.

Levi Flaman, candidate and the current vice-president (operations and finance), began by noting the reopening of the Myer Horowitz. 

levi flaman myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Levi Flaman, vice-president (operations and finance) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

Because of the theatre’s reopening, Flaman said the Students’ Union Building’s (SUB) “economic engine is once again firing on all cylinders.” If re-elected, Flaman said he’ll revisit the SUB master plan and “prioritize a second stream of smaller, incremental improvements.”

-Declan Carpenter-Hall

Vice-president (academic) candidates mention accessibility and affordability in opening statements 

In her opening remarks, vice-president (academic) candidate Farah Elgaweesh said her platform is built upon consultations from the past month. For a “more inclusive [educational] experience,” Elgaweesh committed to expanding the Zero Textbook Cost (ZTC) program, advocating for hybrid learning, and centralizing academic opportunities on CampusBRIDGE

farah elgawesh myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Farah Elgaweesh, vice-president (academic) candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

“But, accessibility goes beyond mere textbooks and lecture halls,” Elgaweesh added. “It extends to support systems in place for students facing academic challenges.” Elgaweesh  said she would work to streamline exam deferral policies and reduce wait-times for academic advisors “by addressing the root issues.”

Layla Alhussainy, vice-president (academic) candidate, was unable to attend the forum due to a medical emergency. Nathan Perez, campaign manager for Alhussainy, presented on her behalf. 

nathan perez myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Nathan Perez, Layal Alhussainy’s campaign manager, Myer Horowitz forum.

Perez highlighted Alhussainy’s involvement within the university, noting her role as the vice-president (internal) for the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS), and her positions on the General Faculties Council (GFC) and Council of Faculty Associations (COFA).

Perez highlighted accessibility, affordability, efficiency, and transparency as part of Alhussainy’s platform. As well, Perez mentioned compassion and inclusivity. 

“Equity, Diversity, and [Inclusion] (EDI) must always be at the forefront, not an afterthought,” Perez said. “Your experiences matter. They must be one of the university’s top priorities. We are, after all, a diverse community of students. And that is our strength.”

-Aparajita Rahman

Vice-president (student life) candidates discuss the UASAC and accessibility across campuses

In his opening statement, vice-president (student life) candidate Renson Alva said that he wants to work alongside students to best address student concerns — including broken elevators, accessibility, and the cleanliness of student spaces. He also discussed highlighting wellness supports available to students, including the UASAC. 

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

“I’ve done consultation across all three campuses and I’m seeing those [concerns]. We can work on ensuring that we make your student life journey here better,” Alva said. 

Following Alva, vice-president (student life) candidate Adrian Lam said that “Augustana students historically have not been well-represented within the SU.” He brought up accessibility issues with being from Augustana Campus and participating in student governance, saying that he hasn’t been able to attend other forums in-person due to his location. 

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

Despite this disconnect between Augustana and North Campus, Lam said that he is “willing to fight for students, … [no] matter what campus, faculty, or background [they] come from.” 

“I am running to keep building this sense of community for our SU with you, and to ensure that it’s present on all of our campuses,” Lam said.

-Peris Jones

“It’s an approach that no one has taken before, and it is quite necessary,” BoG representative says

Adrien Lam, the sole candidate in the Board of Governors (BoG) representative race, plans to get student feedback by developing an anonymous survey platform. In her opening statement, she explained the role it would play in her advocacy.

adrien lam myer horowitz 2024
Lily Polenchuk Adrien Lam, Board of Governors representative candidate, Myer Horowitz forum.

“The problem with a BoG representative — or anyone willing to reach out to 44,000 students on campus — is the lack of outreach one person can have alone,” Lam explained. 

She said this direct approach not only allows her to reach out to all students, but also helps her gauge which student issues are relevant. Afterwards, she will take the concerns to BoG.

“It’s an approach that no one has taken before, and it is quite necessary,” Lam said.

Lastly, she mentioned that to boost student engagement on the platform, she would reach out to student groups and make “fun, digestible content” on social media. 

-Aparajita Rahman

CJSR fee will support CJSR staff and operations

Brittany Rudyck, the president of CJSR, presented CJSR’s plebiscite. 

CJSR, the U of A’s campus radio station, is proposing a dedicated fee unit (DFU) of $2.18 for full-time students and 90 cents for part-time students, per semester. 

Rudyck stated that this fee will go to the “very tiny staff who keep the station running [and] support students in learning how to record podcasts, news, and interview people.” 

“We not only serve students and a lot of our shows are run by students, but we have community members coming in from off-campus to do shows,” Rudyck said. 

Rudyck said that CJSR has been the U of A’s campus radio station for 40 years and they hope to continue serving the U of A.

-Peris Jones

ESS fee provides students with funding and supports

Jayden Brooks, co-president of the Engineering Students’ Society (ESS), presented the ESS faculty association membership fee (FAMF).

The ESS FAMF goes toward funding engineering discipline clubs, sending students to conferences and competitions, and funding Gear Week — a tradition since 1939. This referendum is proposing to increase the FAMF from $10 per fall and winter semester for all undergraduate students enrolled in the U of A’s faculty of engineering, to $20.

Brooks said that the discipline clubs are “the heart and soul of our vibrant engineering community, which I believe is the strongest community on campus.”

Voting yes gives engineering students a “memorable experience,” according to Brooks.

-Lale Fassone

ISA fee to go towards cultural events and alleviating international students’ financial burden

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

 “It’s not just a fee,” Raza said. “It is an investment in our vibrant, diverse community.”

The proposed 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, including mental health workshops. The fee would also go towards the International Students’ Benefit Card (I-Card), which gives students discounts at local retailers and food outlets to “alleviate financial burden.” 

In addition, Raza said the fee also fosters “intercultural understanding” on campus by funding events such as International Students’ Day (I-Day) and Welcome Day.

-Aparajita Rahman

ISU will support Indigenous advocacy, honorariums, and more

Victor Olsen, vice-president (consultation and engagement) of the Indigenous Students’ Union (ISU), presented on the ISU’s plebiscite. Their proposed dedicated fee unit (DFU) is $1. 

Olsen said the ISU has two main goals. Internally, they want to make a safe and supportive space for learning and community. The ISU was instrumental for Olsen learning his own language, Cree, he said. 

Externally, the ISU is involved in advocacy in terms of education and pushing for the most important policies for Indigenous students. 

Olsen said the ISU would use the fee to host beading workshops, support honorariums, and support their annual residential school memorial.

“There is a lot of talk often about how we decolonize the university, how we can make the university a more welcoming space for Indigenous students,” Olsen said. “Number one is giving them a space on this campus. That is why I’m asking everybody please support your ISU.”

-Dylana Twittey

OASIS discusses its services for art students 

Alex Ballos, the current vice-president (external) of the Organization for Arts Students and Interdisciplinary Studies (OASIS), presented OASIS’s FAMF.

The proposed fee for full-time faculty of arts students is $5 per semester, an increase of $2 from the previous amount. Ballos said the fee would support services such as a speaker series, the Arts Gala, and the undergraduate arts journal Crossings. Additionally, Ballos said the fee would support individual and group grants that support departments within the faculty.

“Without this fee, we wouldn’t be able to support our wonderful departments and [create] community on campus,” Ballos said.

-Lale Fassone

The Gateway provides hyper-local news through period of “unprecedented change at the U of A,” board chair says

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

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.

Through a period of “unprecedented change at the U of A,” Williams said that The Gateway has been reporting on central campus news that students “need to know and cannot find anywhere else.”

According to Williams, The Gateway has reported on campus issues relating to post-secondary budget cuts, building maintenance, and safety on transit services. 

Lastly, Williams said that the fee would help The Gateway promote transparency on campus, platform student voices, and provide hyper-local news.

-Aparajita Rahman

The Landing shares its proposed fee and services

Emily Lukacs, the student coordinator at The Landing, presented The Landing’s referendum.

The Landing, the U of A’s Centre for gender and sexual diversity, is proposing to raise its opt-outable fee from $1.85 per fall and winter semester for full-time students on North Campus, to $3.75. Lukacs explained that the fee is needed for The Landing to continue reliably providing current and future services for 2SLGBTQ+ students and their peers.

Lukacs explained that the fee increase is due to the increased demand for services by the U of A.

“Our current space and staffing is far exceeded by the number of students visiting our space over the past few years. Visitors are either turned away or forced to sit on the floor. Staff at The Landing are well beyond their work capacity as we only have two staff members to meet the needs of hundreds of students,” Lukacs said.

-Lale Fassone

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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