Who should and will become the Students’ Union’s next vice-president (operations & finance)? The Students’ Union elections can be confusing, but the election dissection panel is here to help. This is part one of a feature series where three Students’ Union experts analyze each race of the 2018 elections based on the candidates’ platforms, Q&A’s and forum performances. Opinions expressed by the panelists do not reflect those of The Gateway.
Meet the panel:
Mitchell Sorensen was The Gateway‘s staff reporter for the 2015-16 year and online editor for the 2016-17 year. He is also the host of The Sorensen Report, a Gateway video series that unpacks each forum of the SU elections. He also prides himself on always correctly predicting which candidates will win.
Cody Bondarchuk was the head of Safewalk before becoming the Students’ Union vice-president (operations & finance) for the 2015-16 year. He ran for president in 2016, but lost that race. Bondarchuk has since graduated and is a great go-to for information about all things SU.
As an international student in engineering, Rabib Alam was the president of the HUB Community Association before running for Students’ Union vice-president (student life) in 2017. Alam lost that race and has since graduated from the Faculty of Engineering. He’s now a seasoned expert on international student and residence issues at the U of A.
Meet the candidates:
Emma Ripka is a business student and current business promotional coordinator for the Students’ Union. Read her platform here.
Donald Straump/Jessie Benoit is a joke candidate based on Donald Trump who wants to “Make English French again.” Read his twitter here.
The panelists found the race for vice-president (operations & finance) to be pretty cut and dry, given Emma Ripka’s business background and her experience with the Students’ Union.
The panelists were also really impressed with her idea to build a skill-sharing network to connect students from across campus.
“I haven’t seen someone explore something like this before,” Alam said. “It improves collaboration between different parts of campus and I think that’s a cool way to engage students.”
“This skill-sharing network is so cool,” Bondarchuk said. “Some people might say that we already have social media but isolation on campus is a real problem, and if this is successful I think it would be one of the most fantastic things the SU’s ever done. It’s going to take a lot of work, it might actually take up the bulk of her work.”
Alam said he also likes her plan to look at how the SU’s marketing channels could be improved, especially given her experience as a current business promotional coordinator for the SU which should really help her achieve that goal.
“She’s going to walk in on day one and know everyone she has to work with,” Bondarchuk said. “And that’s a huge asset.”
“Reading through her platform she really understands that campus life is exciting to a lot of people but it’s also terrifying to a lot of other people, especially folks that don’t necessarily want to get involved,” he said. “So she wants to get people involved in the fold.”
Sorensen said he’s of the same opinion.
“There’s nothing that screams she can’t do this job or doesn’t deserve this job, by any means,” he said.
Alam also said he thinks Ripka will continue the work done by current vice-president (operations & finance) Robyn Paches, including the Student Events Initiative, a referendum asking for students to pay an $8.25 semesterly fee until 2020 (which would then be raised to $16.50 per semester).
Sorensen has his own problems with the Student Events Initiative, but doesn’t think there’s anything wrong with Ripka using it in her platform. He said his one concern is that she may be overestimating the amount of time she has to work on the more personal projects, like the skill-sharing network.
With all panelists agreeing she’s the person for the job, Bondarchuk said it will be great to have her in the operations & finance family.
“She will also be the first female operations and finance in more than 20 years,” Bondarchuk said.
“I almost wish she was running opposed cause she could kick whoever’s ass she was running against, because she is bonkers prepared,” he said.
Bondarchuk also said the joke candidate, Donald Straump, is the “worst thing he’s ever seen.”
“If he really wanted to make change he could have run as a serious candidate,” he said, citing the fact that Jessie Benoit is the current vice-president (operations & finance) of the Campus Saint-Jean faculty association.
Alam agreed, and said he expected more from a joke candidate.
“Also,” Bondarchuk said. “Trump? Future war criminal Donald Trump?”
He suggested that If someone wanted to make a protest point to say that North Campus is ignoring the French campus, they could run as a real candidate and only speak French at all the forums.
“If he really wanted to protest and make a difference he should have run for real,” he said.
Emma Ripka — three votes
Emma Ripka — three votes