Letter from the Students’ Union | By Colten Yamagishi

Dear Wanderers,

I’m happy to see that you have all found your way to a copy of this brand new publication.  It is very rare to see a student project unveiled with this much force, passion, and ambition.  I’m very excited to see where this project will head.

I’ve been asked to write a letter to tell you about what the Students’ Union is “working on” but I think that it is more important for me to write this letter asking what YOU – students – want us to be working on. And that is what I am going to do.  If there is anything in this letter that you either love, hate, or just want to comment on, please make sure to send me your thoughts. Also, I am going to try and write this letter so that it is short, fresh, and off the cuff, but if it only serves to whet your interest in the SU, I encourage you to check out the SU website for more information!

And with that said here we go!

SU Preamble – feel free to skip this section if you’re an SU hack (insider) and know this all already!

First of all, the SU works on a variety of projects over the year.  We have five executives; VP Operations and Finance (Andy Cheema), VP Student Life (Saadiq Sumar), VP External (Petros Kusmu), VP Academic (Dustin Chelen), and myself as President.  We have over 200 staff and over one thousand volunteers.  We operate a budget that encompasses over ten million dollars, and we use that money to  provide things for students, like our businesses, student services, operating the Students’ Union building, and advocating to the university and the government on behalf of students’ interests.

I’m sure that you have heard most of that before, but here are a few things you might not know: did you know that SUB used to have a bowling alley and a curling rink? Did you know that L’Express serves a $2 big breakfast during exams? Did you know that Andy Cheema is an amazing breakdancer?  Maybe I’m jumping to conclusions, but I think that for many of you this is news.

 Upcoming projects!

What are we working on this year and what should you be aware of? Here is a list of big projects coming from each executive member’s portfolio that you can expect us to be chipping away at throughout our terms.


Fall Reading Week (hopeful implementation for Fall 2013); SUB TV expansion across campus

VP Ops Fi

SUB Renovations; Improving our businesses

VP Student Life

Spring/Summer U-Pass implementation; Fall/Winter U-Pass contract renewal; Improving on all the work I did last year!

VP Academic

Undergraduate Research Symposium; Assessment and Grading

VP External

Fixing the Elections Act; Making ground on pressing issues while building strong relationships with the government

Now for the good stuff!

I’ve devised a little project here.

Here is a list of things that I, Colten Yamagishi (as an average student at the U of A and not as the SU President) would like to see fixed, changed, or improved.  Some of these ideas are difficult to accomplish and possibly a bit outlandish but hey why not?  I challenge you to e-mail me a similar list of what you want to see your Students’ Union accomplish this school year!

-I think that we pay too many “hidden” non-transparent fees on top of our tuition. These feeds need to be eliminated if they cannot be validated

-I think that we should have a skating rink/pond in Quad

-I think that much of the food on campus, including in campus residences, should be priced more affordably

-I think that we need to support more inclusive environments for underrepresented groups on campus

-I think that we need to keep pushing the university and the SU to become more sustainable

-I think that we need to encourage more females to run for SU Executive positions

Those are just a few of the things that I want to see from the SU this year.  I hope that you all have ideas and will share them with us, because we can only address your thoughts and concerns if we hear them!

The Year Ahead…

This year is lined up to be a big one for the SU and for students.  This summer we have already saved students over $1 million dollars with changes to our health and dental plan, we have installed an Infolink Express Kiosk in SUB, and we are looking at some big advances for student mental health.

We’ve got some solid movement on both the university and government scenes so keep your eyes peeled and keep your ears open because the SU is about to make some major plays.

Stay tuned and keep Wandering….


Colten Yamagishi

Students’ Union President 2012/2013


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