SU Exec Report Cards 2018-19: Vice-President (External)

Each year, The Gateway publishes an evaluation of the Students’ Union executive and the Board of Governors representative. It’s impossible to discuss every aspect of their tenures, so these reports are largely based on the major components of the platform each executive campaigned on, and the most significant responsibilities of their respective positions. These evaluations were informed by interviews with the executives themselves. The grading rubric can be found below. And if you’re short for time, check out our TLDR for a bite-sized breakdown.

Adam Brown: B-

Given that the vice-president (external) spends a lot of their time advocating to the provincial and federal governments, the changes they may make can be hard for students to see. And while Brown has done extensive advocacy work as chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and in other capacities, his biggest achievement in regards to tuition is the most standout work he has done in regards to his platform.

Brown’s biggest win is certainly the passing of Bill 19, which not only provides a framework for postsecondary tuition increases, but also legislates mandatory non-instructional fees (MNIFs) and provides framework for increases to international student tuition. Bill 19 was, of course, the result of both the NDP government’s tuition review and long-term advocacy from vice-presidents (external), meaning that while Brown certainly had a hand in pushing for this legislation, he was not the main architect around advocacy for the issue. And while Brown notes he was pleased to have gotten any form of regulation for international students, he originally campaigned on pushing for freezes to international student tuition. Brown notes that there’s still a lot of work to do in regards to this front, and has been considering how to push stronger regulations. I can only hope that much stronger controls emerge from advocacy in the future.  

In their policy draft, the United Conservative Party has included making student union fees optional, something that would certainly cripple the SU’s ability to advocate for and provide services to students. While certainly urgent when first announced, the implementation of such a policy by the Progressive Conservatives in Ontario has made the possibility of such a policy coming to Alberta much more real. To tackle this, Brown has been speaking to MLAs from all parties about how such a policy would affect student unions across the province, while the SU has been doing preliminary work to conceive how they would function with severely diminished fees. The SU’s nonpartisan approach to this issue, while safe, hasn’t expressed enough urgency, given the existential threat it presents to the organization. Protests and fierce opposition to optional SU fees should have been the strategy; such things can be done in a nonpartisan manner, after all.

Tying into direct advocacy with MLAs, Brown worked with president Reed Larsen to create a “Get out the Vote” campaign, a non-partisan initiative designed to help students get more engaged with the democratic process by pledging to vote in the next provincial election, as well as providing resources to help them consider their role determining how postsecondary education is handled by the province. Similar things have been done before in the province; in 2012, the SU launched a similar campaign in advance of the 2012 provincial election. 3500 pledges have been signed so far, which is commendable, but I wish more explicit awareness around understanding the issues — not just joining the conversation — was a component of such a project.

TLDR: While Brown has made one major stride with the passing of Bill 19, his other advocacy around issues like optional student union fees and student engagement with the province has played the field far too safely. I would hope that more intense advocacy, as well as more explicit awareness campaigns around issues like optional student union fees, are built off the work Brown has done this year.


A-range: This person has fulfilled the promises they campaigned on, has created tangible change during their tenure, and has shown a commitment to improving the lives of students. Their GPA is looking good.

B-range: This person has done their job consistently well, but has not made any remarkable changes, or has fallen short on important goals they set out in their platforms. They’re doing fine, but it’s nothing to phone home about.

C-range: This person has done their job sufficiently, but has failed to make significant progress in the areas most relevant to their portfolio, or has essentially abandoned a major part of their platform. They’re still passing with a safe buffer though, and Cs get degrees!

D-range: This person has done a very lacklustre job, and has not sufficiently fulfilled their campaign promises or the responsibilities of their position.

F-range: This person has not done their job, has not represented students, and has not fulfilled their campaign promises whatsoever.

Andrew McWhinney

Andrew McWhinney is a fifth-year English and political science combined honors student, as well as The Gateway's 2019-20 Editor-in-Chief. He was previously The Gateway's 2018-19 Opinion Editor. An aspiring journalist with too many opinions, he's a big fan of political theory, hip-hop, and being alive.

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