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Three candidates and a dog lay claim to President | The Gateway The Gateway Archive | The Official Student Newspaper at the University of Alberta since 1910
August 18, 2014
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Three candidates and a dog lay claim to President

Michelle Mark
News Editor
Feb 26, 2014

The President is the primary spokesperson for the Students’ Union. They are responsible for maintaining an awareness of major issues affecting students and shall supervise the overall administration of the Students’ Union and co-ordination of the Executive Committee.

1. Tell me why you’re running for President.

William Lau: It’s been an amazing year as VP (SL). I have to say, there’s two pieces to the “why,” and one is the encouragement I’ve got from the students that I’ve worked with, saying that they’d appreciate a Students’ Union that works more like I did.

The second reason why is that we’ve done amazing things with the Students’ Union this year. We’ve laid a lot of groundwork, and I want to make sure that the groundwork that we’ve laid is carried forward.

Bashir Mohamed: For me, a lot of my ideas — I never knew the SU could actually do them. I never knew the scope of the SU. But after being on (Students’ Council) for a year and after seeing the impact I’ve had ... I saw that the SU could be a force of good. I decided I wanted to be a part of that. I realized that as President, you’re a sort of Leviathan — the top of this big organization.

I thought that as President, your goal is to put Council, put the executives in the general direction while being a quarterback.

Adam Woods: I think the big reason this year is that we really need to focus on (the) external thing this year, as well as the quality of education on our campus and the quality of our institution, and I think I am best fit to do that. I think that this year I am best fit to defend us to the government and ensure that things on campus are as good as they can be.

I’m incredibly passionate about what we do here, and I want to keep doing what I’m doing, I want to keep going. I’m not done yet.

Doge: Very presadunt. Want lead humans ad doges studantz.

2. If you had to criticize anything the current President did this year, what would it be? How would you have handled the situation differently?

Lau: Shit.

That’s a tough question. I’d say his main mistake is not running for a second year ... He did way too good of a job and it makes other execs look bad.

Mohamed: That’s a big question.

I was a bit frustrated that (Petros Kusmu) was hesitant to go to the province to advocate on the Leadership College ... He eventually relaxed that position; that’s why he went to Council to ask for our views on it.

The main thing is the (international differential fee increase). He did a lot of good work, he met with a lot of the Board of Governors, but I feel that more material support could have been given to the grassroots.

Woods: It’s never about who is the better candidate, it’s a matter about what kind of year is it? What kind of president do we need? I think this year, one challenge we faced ... was it was so overwhelming that (Kusmu) really took his time in making those decisions, and that can be a good thing, at times. But there are also times I feel we really need to be able to come out with that stance now.

Doge: no1 - he is nawt a doge. asuch, Petros not giv kiss or cuddle. Doge presadutn giv much luv 2 every1

3. This year has seen the most drastic budget cuts to the university in decades, and a new budget is coming up quickly. If these sorts of cuts hit the U of A again next year, how will you make sure students’ concerns are heard by the university? By the government?

Lau: I think part of that is what we’re building into our communications strategy right now. One clear thing we saw from the budget cuts last year was that students are frustrated that what they had to say wasn’t being taken into account.

With our communications strategy that we’re drafting right now and will be ready to implement next year, we’ll be able to have that conversation with the student body.

One of my focuses next year is to try to turn the SU to (be) more inward facing ... and a part of that is really trusting our VP (External) to handle the external relations.

Mohamed: Since a lot of our advocacy efforts and a lot of our organizational power is very limited, a lot of our advocacy efforts are top-down. I believe the way I would do it differently is by creating a more bottom-up approach.

Essentially, the way I plan to do that is by ... reaching out to students and making an advocacy committee made up of councillors and excecutives and a bunch of students-at-large so that advocacy efforts can be consistent throughout the year.

Woods: It’s a matter of being firm, and honestly, as cliched as it sounds, keep doing what we’re doing.

We need to continue with our lobbying, we need to continue being firm with MLAs and with the administration to make it clear that our quality of education is not just something that can be up for cuts, or can be used to deal with budgetary deficits. It’s making sure that we’re letting them know how we honestly feel, and how we honestly think the situation should be addressed.

Doge: Doge 4 prez support incoming VPAkademik in GFC reform. Halp VPA make atmuttsfere Adorability of doges werx to studant advantage in University & govt rlashuns - even cold-hearted admin & ministerz can b reached by doge luv.

4. What’s your take on the SU’s current relationship with university administration?

Lau: I’d have to say it’s pretty good.

I think we’re in a situation right now ... where we have through our consultation processes this year tried to work out what consultation was. It allowed all (parties) to have a clear idea of how we can better communicate in the future to avoid those types of conflicts.

Mohamed: I do feel like the relationship we have has soured. I believe the university does treat us like children — especially the Board of Governors ... the university often goes full steam ahead.

Woods: Right now, I think things are okay. They’ve never been perfect; we’ve never seen eye-to-eye with the administration on a lot of issues.

I think the important thing though, is that we continue to be firm. Especially with a new President coming to campus eventually — a lot of initiatives are going to be passed through and we need to continue being firm in what we believe in.

Doge: so eggshells

5. If elected, how do you plan to balance your own goals with some of the long-term SU initiatives and the goals of your VPs?

Lau: One great thing I would look up to is how we wrapped up fall reading week this year.

I would see these projects as ones we would be working on collaboratively as pairs or as a larger executive team. On top of that, one thing I’m really interested in this year is getting more student councillors involved.

Mohamed: On my platform, I’ve pulled away from getting into too many specifics like the Leadership College ... The best thing I can do, in that case, is to pull back, take what they have, and whoever’s elected, each one is going to have their own long term goals, and I believe the best thing is to sit down and come to a consensus.

Woods: As a President, you have to make a priority list right at the start, and I think that a lot of the initiatives that I’ve brought forward under (my) platform are things the other VPs hopefully want to work on, too.

In terms of continuing goals, it’s a lot of delegation, but it’s also just prioritizing what’s important.

Doge: much hind leg balanz. motiv8 VPs w/ fetch

6. Walk me through some of your platform goals.

Lau: One of my first points that I’d like to accomplish is maximize student representation ... Leveraging the nominating committee that was created this year to hopefully effectively fill all seats in university governance with students.

My second platform point is to prioritize student voice ... With the strategic plan coming up, it’s a good chance for the Students’ Union to clarify our values and the direction we want to lead.

The last point is enhancing co-curricular opportunities. I think a really, really strong opportunity we have here is the momentum carrying forward with the Leadership College. The residence aside, it’s really exciting to have a pool of money coming in for what the university is calling “leadership programming.”

Mohamed: I’ve promised myself to never say the phrase, ‘I’ve broken it up into three key things,’ but it’s three key things. There’s international students, there’s advocacy and there’s alleviating the need for childcare.

I support the need to regulate the differential fee, because right now it’s being used as a way for, when there are budget cuts, the university can reach into this pool of students and grab a few pennies.

There’s (my) approach to advocacy, which is essentially recognizing that the SU’s form of advocacy is inherently short-term ... By creating an advocacy committee ... to keep Council in check and to also maintain long-term advocacy projects.

For alleviating childcare ... There’s that stereotype that students are not married and don’t have children, or aren’t mature ... The SU used to have a daycare, it was funded by the city of Edmonton and it cost no student dollars, and I realized that’s an approach the SU could do.

Woods: The first is advancing academic advising options on campus ... One thing we should be focusing on is ... (work) through InfoLink to provide a better peer support service.

The second big area is providing more support to student groups. There’s been quite a lot of attention this year on (Student Group Services) ... they need more staff resources; they need more support.

Third point is protecting the quality of education on campus by advocating to the government and other stakeholders ... We need to be pushing the government to reinvest and to create a sustainable funding model.

Doge: WALK!!!!! :D

6. If you could choose any TV show cast to make up your team of vice-presidents, what cast would you pick?

Lau: I’d choose Friends. Just putting aside the characters, I think what makes a really productive team is when you can be friends with each other and have open lines of communication and be able to work as a team.

Mohamed: From Community Troy would be my VP(SL), Jeff Winger would be my VP (External), Abed would be my VP (Academic), Annie would be my VP (OpsFi) and Britta would be my Board of Governors Rep.

Woods: I am going to go with the cast from Archer, because I don’t think we’d get much work done, but it’d be a lot of fun — minus Pam, because we can’t deal with no coke addictions.

Doge: i just found tv 4 doges on gugle omg…. any huminz whu r running will make a grr8 sitcom cast in office


Thank you candidates, for your interviews especially Doge!

Unfortunately, William Lau’s responses left me with more questions and concerns than answers.

When asked to criticize something the current President did this year, you only say that he should’ve run again. I agree that he did a good job, but nobody is perfect. You can’t come up with even one thing that he could’ve done better? Every good leader knows how to offer up criticism in a thoughtful and constructive way, especially considering that in the previous question you say that students “appreciate a Students’ Union that works more like I did”. There is a clear discrepancy between these two answers, and yet you do not offer up any real answers to solve this.

Moving on… In question 3 you were asked about how you will make sure students’ concerns are heard by the university and government. Your response to “have a conversation with the student body” mentions nothing about how you will relays your findings to the university and government. You do not even answer the question appropriately! As for having the SU be “more inward facing”, I am concerned that by doing this you are cutting the SU off from really valuable connections that they have worked hard to establish this past year in difficult times amongst budget cuts and tuition increases. Communication is so important and you cannot leave this to one person. You would be the head of an organization and as such, would be expected to represent the SU along with the VPX at many conferences and meetings on behalf of students. Kusmu and Woods did some of this together last year with other SU leaders. Your answer shows a lack of awareness of both positions as well as a disorganized future for the SU. I envision you bunkering up with a hot plate and Campbell’s soup to feed you and the other VPs and sending the VPX out occasionally to deliver messages to the media. That’s alarming.

Anyone who knows anything about the relationship between the SU and the University over the past few years know that “pretty good” is not at all an appropriate description of this relationship. This is a disillusioned answer. A good leader needs to be honest. How come you said this? To seem optimistic? Is it a lie? Do you really not know? Did you miss some meetings? I read this answer and was truly shocked that you would say this! I was looking forward to your honest answer on this, since you are one of a handful of people on the SU side that should know exactly the state of the relationship currently.

You do not answer question number 5 at all. I have no idea how you plan to manage your goals with the goals of your VPs. Nothing about balance, prioritize, compromise, consensus, or other words along those lines. To add salt to the wound, your platform points are underdeveloped and vague. I am trying to find more information on your points but am unable to. There is no substance to your platform. I guess by the end I was not surprised that you chose Friends as the cast for your VP team. You seem more focused on making everyone happy than setting and accomplishing actual goals. As a voter looking to educate myself, I am looking for well-formulated points and was greatly disappointed with your responses.

Posted by Katie M on Feb 26, 2014

Dear Katie M,

I would like to respectfully disagree and preface this comment by saying that I look forward to when all the candidates platforms are posted. I believe they should have been posted earlier.

While saying that, I recognize that William has done a good job as an executive. My main worry about your comment is that you seem to be overly critical of just one candidate and not the others. I have done interesting and controversial things on Council and so has Adam Woods.

Some of your comments are borderline disrespectful and uncalled for. Such as, “I envision you bunkering up with a hot plate and Campbell’s soup to feed you and the other VPs and sending the VPX out occasionally to deliver messages to the media. That’s alarming.”

I envision William working 70 hours a week like any of us would if elected.

If anything, your concerns should have mainly been directed towards ideas and not the persons capability. This has not been done in your comment and I feel that it warrants an imminent apology.

As a candidate, I want this election to be about ideas. Lets not make this into a platform measuring contest and see whos is bigger. A 50 page platform means nothing if it is filled with empty platitudes. Please refrain from attacking someone’s competencies and focus on their ideas.

If you feel that William is lacking ideas then hit him on that. Not his personality.


Bashir Mohamed

Posted by Bashir Mohamed on Feb 27, 2014

Bashir- have you read the Leviathan? you know the Leviathan is based on the Book of Job, as in a sea monster? As in Hobbes meant that the figure of the state is awe-inspiring? (Ie, please use political metaphors carefully).

Also, why are your posters all ripoffs of “Bane” posters from the Dark Knight Rises? http://th04.deviantart.net/fs71/PRE/f/2011/140/7/8/new_bane_poster_by_ryanluckoo-d3gsz2z.jpg

Posted by Gooblygook on Feb 27, 2014

My first comment is directed at the fourth candidate, which happens to be a dog. If you’re going to parody a meme, at least try to do it right.
My second comment is the following: as much as I don’t like saying this, the most concise, cohesive, and consistent platform seems to be that of Adam Woods. He’s been in the SU for a while and his priorities (to represent the student body to the government) seem pretty well thought out. I feel that maybe he’s not focusing much on student life but that wouldn’t be his job as president. If he can manage a group of people and we elect some other decent candidates to help us have fun AND pursue our academics, next year will be fine.

Posted by Lindsay on Feb 27, 2014

Gee, Adam Woods’ girlfriend is a Katie M. What a coincidence. I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest you may not just be an everyday voter looking to educate yourself…

Posted by Ghost of Elections Past on Feb 27, 2014

Kudos to the Ghost of Elections Past for saying what had to be said.

Posted by Pot Stirrer on Feb 27, 2014

What I find concerning are the implications of the comments made by ghosts and stirrer. Is being Adam’s girlfriend an issue because you think she not intelligent enough to form he town opinions about the race or is it because you think she needs to play the traditional First Lady-in-waiting role and keep her mouth shut and smile? If she were ether of these things she would have elevated Adam unceremoniously above both candidates. Seems to me she took issue with the response of one candidate and went for it. Katie M, I don’t know if you see yourself as a ‘girlfriend’ but way to have to guts to stand up an voice you opinion in a race where your partner is running. If this indeed, the same Katie M to whom everyone is alluding.

Posted by Cowardly Lyin' on Feb 27, 2014

This is my fourth year at the university, and this is surely the weakest presidential race I’ve seen. All the candidates failed to communicate their points or platform effectively. Hopefully they’ll have better luck communicating at the forums… Or else this will be yet another election won solely on popularity… Yay.

Posted by Mitchell on Feb 27, 2014

@Gooblygook “Leviathan” can also be used as a noun to simply mean “powerful, large thing”. Bashir’s use of the word was far from incorrect.

Posted by The Dictionary on Feb 28, 2014

The concern with someone personal to the candidate speaking in this context is disclosure. Personal relations that bias the person should be declared least the reader believe they are the words of a unbiased student.

Posted by Anonymous on Mar 01, 2014

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