The Students’ Union is close to having a policy formally affirming that the organization does not endorse any particular political party.
On July 31, Students’ Council unanimously passed the first reading of a non-partisan political policy, which affirms that the Students’ Union is a non-partisan organization and that they will neither support nor oppose any particular political party or candidate for public office. SU president Reed Larsen said the policy would help their advocacy efforts while meeting with different parties and would help prove their non-alignment to anyone who would accuse them of being biased to a particular party.
“It gives us something to point to with political parties. If somebody were to accuse us of ‘being a bunch of liberals over there at the University of Alberta,’ we can say no we’re a non-partisan organization that advocates in the interests of students,” he said.
Larsen added that while the SU has historically been non-partisan, it was never written down on paper until now.
The Students’ Union is also planning several get out to vote campaigns for the 2019 provincial and federal elections. Larsen said the policy will help reinforce the SU’s neutrality in getting students to vote, as well as help the SU when meeting with different parties about student issues prior to the election.
“It really does play a part in making sure that when we work both externally and internally with parties on campus, that we’re approaching it as a non-partisan effort to get students interested in the election,” he said. “This reaffirms that and makes sure that all our get out to vote efforts remain non-partisan.”
While the policy is binding for the Students’ Union as a whole, and for anyone speaking on behalf of the organization, Larsen said the policy doesn’t prevent any councillors or executives from aligning with any political party on an individual level.
“This policy would be binding on individuals acting in their position as a councillor, or myself as president,” Larsen said. “As an individual, outside of these spaces and outside of their representative nature, you’re an individual, you can do and say as you please.”
The non-partisan political policy will have to pass through second reading to come into effect. The next meeting of Students’ Council is on August 21.