Statement from William Lau, Candidate for Vice President-Student Life | SU Elections 2013

Dear Wanderer,

Throughout my six years of undergraduate life, I have accumulated a wealth of experience in student governance and various activities. I have previously traveled down to Chicago and across the sea to Hong Kong, India and the Mediterranean region for curricular and co-curricular initiatives. Over the past year, my top three important on-campus activities would have to be co-finding the Student Health Committee, co-chairing the Health Sciences Students’ Association and working under the Health Promotion arm of the University Wellness Services.

My involvement with these organizations has been thoroughly enjoyable and I feel that I have both the skill and vision to step up as Vice President Student Life to support you in maximizing your University experience. Below, I’d like to deliver you my platform built on the three pillars of defending student voice, supporting student health and strengthening community action.

    • With the construction of the PAW centre and renovations to the Students’ Union Building (SUB) among other administrative activities, there is a large potential for the student voice to be lost. As your Vice President Student Life, I will not only step in to ensure that your Students’ Union is constantly advocating for student concerns, but will also engage in conversation with the student body so that we can properly gauge student needs and advocate for decisions that not only preserve, but also elevate your student life. This will be carried out through in-person meetings with student leaders as well as expanding the reach of the Students’ Union presence on social media.
    • Student voice can be hard to defend when students don’t vocalize their opinions. When it comes to the barriers that students face, the experts in this field are students themselves. To combat this complex issue, I will create a case competition for the experts – our students – on campus. Students will form teams to create proposals to strategically combat the broad topic of student engagement. Each student team will create a poster to display their work at a symposium, and the top 5 teams will give presentations. The winning team will be awarded a grant to implement the strategy over the course of an academic year. From students, for students.
    • Physical Health
      • The physical health of students has become a major topic of discussion in the past few years and for good reason. One’s physical health can greatly impact their current quality of life. Hence, finding ways to improve the health of students not only improves how students physically feel, but also has the potential to enhance their ability to perform academically and enjoy their campus experience.  With this in mind,I hope to:
        • Advocate for greater visibility and variety of healthy snacks at SU businesses
        • Continue to support the SU farmer’s market
        • Promote the construction of ergonomic classroom desks and chairs in upcoming construction projects
        • Promote art and positive culture in stairwells
        • Set up a temporary volleyball net in quad during the spring and fall to pick up volleyball games
    • Mental Health
      • In recent years mental health has become an increasingly important issue for Canadians and University of Alberta students are no exception. In 2011, the University of Alberta surveyed about 1600 students and found that about half had recently experienced overwhelming anxiety or hopelessness. Clearly, something must be done to enhance the mental health of our students. To do this, I hope to:
        • Coordinate a collaborative campaign designed to combat the stigma around discussing and treating mental illnesses with existing resources on campus
        • Expand the University Wellness Services’ Unwind Your Mind program into a year-round initiative. Simple supports like earplugs alone can relieve minor daily stresses.
        • Strengthen the marketing of SU movie nights and comedy nights through the use of social media. By asking all interested student groups and faculty associations to disseminate the events to their members, the reach of our advertising efforts can be amplified in a cost-efficient manner.
        • Promoting student art on campus to add a splash of colour to our daily environment
        • Organize a “Campus’ Got Talent” to showcase the diverse array of hidden gems we house at the University of Alberta. Training of a talent, whether it be martial arts, music or dance consumes most of an individual’s childhood. It is common that students entering University put aside these activities in order to focus on academics; this would be an opportunity for them to get in touch with their childhood and show us what they’re really made of!
    • Support Student Groups
      • Considering the University’s current financial well-being, it is increasingly difficult to fund initiatives designed to support student life. Therefore, we must make use of our most valuable resources – students, and student groups as a system.
      • Student groups are habituated to operating on small budgets and raising or seeking their own funds through fundraising or seeking of sponsors. They raise awareness around topics such as health, culture and social justice as well as hold events that supply students with opportunities to connect with each other socially and intellectually. Therefore, improving the ability of student groups to provide existing services can act as a cost effective method to enhance the student experience. I hope to stimulate student group activity by:
        • Advocating for better office space for student groups in SUB
        • Advocating for more simple processes within Student Group Services to remove barriers that student groups may face
        • Improving the accessibility to Bearsden as an online space where student groups can interact
        • Creating a network for student groups and University organizations to interact and share experiences, knowledge and resources, in hope to build a culture of mentorship and collaboration
    • Creating a culture around University Athletics
      • Build interest and awareness in Golden Bears and Pandas athletics by throwing a tailgate party prior to one of the games in September to expose and stimulate students to attend varsity athletic events.
      • Bringing together all of us as UofA students to break the record of a 6,084 participant Dodgeball game as set by UC Irvine on September 25, 2012.

Hope that didn’t bore you there! I’d also like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank my campaign manager, Victoria Woo, for all her time and efforts in making the campaign such a huge success so far. While I’m at it, I might as well thank Ray Lam, Stephanie Woo, Ted Zhang, Mengran Wang, Eric Tran, Vivian Kwan, Berton Quon, Melinda Calayo, Patrick Lau, Chris Chen and Jimmy Kang for taking time out of reading week to help a friend.

Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
First off, I’m a pretty loving guy and would never fight a duck or a horse or anything in between. Secondly, as a ninja it would be dishonourable to fight anything smaller than myself. A horse-sized duck it is, and I don’t give a duck about how big this duck is!

I hope you all have as much fun with the SU elections as I am having. For those of you working alongside candidates, don’t let our stress rub off onto you!

William Lau


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