CampusOpinion

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

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.


Andre Bourgeois: B

The vice-president (student life) works on improving the student experience as much as possible. As such, their platforms and campaign points tend to flex and bend with each individual VP. After his extensive work with Week of Welcome, Bourgeois would’ve had the opportunity to make the vice-president (student life) role focused on events and engagement. Bourgeois’ primary focuses this year, however, were campus security, improving accessibility to and expanding SU services, mental health, and assisting residence associations.

Campus security is a newer focus that Bourgeois brought to his portfolio this year, and it’s also the place of his greatest success: having $600,000 out of a $2 million security plan set aside for security upgrades in HUB Mall. Bourgeois worked closely with HUB Community Association (HCA) president Jared Larsen to make HUB’s security concerns a priority in the eyes of university administration. This has been something the HCA has spent years advocating for; HUB is one of the few campus buildings that isn’t locked down in the evening, and residents have consistently encountered people sleeping in stairwells, picking through garbage, or taking illicit substances. Bourgeois was able to come in and make a final, small push towards completion in this very long process.

In the residence portfolio, Bourgeois was able to help the previously-defunct East Campus Students’ Association (ECSA) return from the dead. With the SU’s assistance, ECSA’s constitution was reworked and amended, and a chief returning officer has been secured for their next round of executive elections. A reinstatement of ECSA’s fees, which were previously suspended due to ECSA’s derecognition, is being looked at, which will help further stabilize ECSA’s finances and hopefully help it provide the services, advocacy, and support it once provided students living in East Campus.

Mental health has been a huge talking point on campus this year, given the reveal about a suicidal student being evicted from residence in 2016, as well as student taking their life in Lister this year. Bourgeois originally discussed ironing out bugs on UASU Cares, a mental health resources initiative set up by former vice-president (student life) Ilya Ushakov. However, the opportunity arose for the SU — alongside the Dean of Students office — to work on a pilot project with 211, an Alberta phone service that directs individuals struggling with mental health to community and social services. When students call 211 and identify themselves as U of A students, they automatically get directed to SU and campus services, as well as other services in the area. This gently expands the scope of what UASU Cares originally did, which while a small gain, is a gain nonetheless.

One of the biggest of Bourgeois’ original campaign points was getting a sexual assault response and prevention coordinator at the university, one of the recommendations from a 2016 review done on the university’s sexual misconduct policy. Bourgeois notes that despite his strong advocacy and belief in the importance of the position, it’s unlikely it will be filled by the end of his term. In the future, he said that that the SU has the opportunity follow-up with protests similar to the one staged by the Sexual Assault Centre in January. This is certainly Bourgeois’ largest downfall, and something that will need to be picked up in the next vice-president’s term.

TLDR: Bourgeois was strong in his residence portfolio with HUB and the re-establishment of ECSA, and was able to expand on what has been done for mental health on campus this year with the establishment of the 211 pilot project. However, Bourgeois’ failure to get a sexual assault response and prevention coordinator will need to be acted on immediately come next year.


Rubric:

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 fourth-year English and political science honors student, as well as 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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