Hello Wanderer readers, and thank you for reading this submission. I am very thankful for 1000 words to explain why I’m running for the position of Vice President External. There has been a lot of conversation about how many of the races (including mine) are unopposed in this election. The reasons behind this circumstance aside, I want the opportunity to explain and prove to campus that I’m not just some guy with zero experience or ideas walking into the job. Advocacy is something I’m very passionate about, and I want to explain why I want this position and what issues I would work on if elected.
My first platform point is regarding the state of mental health on our campus. The National College Health Assessment (NCHA) found in 2011 that found that University of Alberta students were very emotionally challenged. From a series of results the one I found most shocking was that 34.4 percent of students felt so depressed they couldn’t function properly. I encourage you review the assessment and see the rest of the results. Many solutions were brought up by numerous stakeholders on campus, but no one seemed to think it reasonable to ask the government for more funding.
Then the provincial government gave Alberta public institutions 10.4 million in funding for mental health in January, recognizing it as an issue. I think this is a great opportunity to receive more government assistance in this matter for future years. Simply put, the stress University students experience to cause such results as seen in the NCHA is not something that will go away in three years. These results are caused by the stress of being a University student, and so long as that stress remains mental health issues will remain. If elected, I will advocate for the increase and continuation of provincial mental health funding.
The next subject to be brought up is student employment. The platform I had initially intended to run on; of expanding the only current summer employment program, has been replaced with trying to save it. The Edmonton Journal recently reported that the Summer Temporary Employment Program (STEP) had shut down services, meaning it is likely going to be cut. At a recent on campus event called “A Conversation withPremier Redford”, I submitted a question about this development and how she intended to handle youth unemployment. She answered that the unemployment rate was low; however I strongly believe that this is not the issue at hand. The student employment program is about making sure the horde of students applying for summer jobs find adequate ones, and that those needing to work all year have reasonable access and hours. Think about your last summer job. Was it easy to find? Did it pay an adequate wage to cover your current expenses? I would venture that many would answer no to the first and second question, especially those paying for those paying rent or tuition.
STEP mainly worked by providing government funded wage subsidies, $7 an hour in Alberta, as incentive to hire students. The City of Edmonton for example, hires many seasonal workers (most of them students) to run free day camps at parks for kids funded largely by STEP, and this program is now in question. In total, 3,000 student jobs are at risk. Furthermore, cutting this service would make Alberta the only place in Canada (province or territory) without a federal employment program. If elected, I will endeavour to save Alberta’s provincial employment program.
Finally, I want to talk about mandatory non instructional fees. These are fees the University charges you on top of tuition. In 2009, the government implemented a cap tying tuition to inflation. Rather than sit down with the students to talk things over, the University administration simply decided to create mandatory fees that were charged on top of tuition. There are many of these fees, some reasonable and others not. A prime example of an unreasonable mandatory fee is the COSSS fee. A fee where each student is charged $297 for “Common Student Space, Sustainability and Services”
The University used to say this fee went towards circulation space, or hallways in other words. Now apparently it pays for things like Beartracks and Administration Services. In reality, no one is exactly sure what it all pays for, except the University administration. If elected, like many before me, I will continue working with the government to encourage the University to come up with a consultative framework and assurance of a student vote before mandatory non instruction fees are implemented.
I want to thank you for taking the time to read this, and if you would like to see the rest of the platform please visit www.woodsforexternal.ca. Be sure to come out to an election forum, I am happy to answer any questions you may have.
What is the name of your campaign manager?
I have two, Dylan Hanwell and Bill Pickering.
What are the three on-campus activities that you are involved in do you consider the most important?
The Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta, General Faculties Council Executive Committee, and my times as a presenter for Orientation.
Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
Good question. I have had experiences with both in which I got hurt or almost got hurt. I was once bitten by a duck I tried to touch at a lake when I was around ten. It hurt, but I scared it away by yelling. I realized then that ducks are kind of stupid. I’ve also been chased (on several occasions) by rodeo horses. They ran faster than anything I’ve encountered, and the louder I yelled the faster they chased me. One even jumped over the barbed wire fence my friends and I had to reach in order to separate ourselves, and I honestly thought I was going to die. I realized then that horses are very persistent. In conclusion, I would rather fight one large and dumb animal that 100 little ones with ridiculous persistence. Bring on the hella massive duck.