Read this before you vote: Executive Committee 2024

by | Mar 13, 2024 | Campus, Politics, SAMU | 0 comments

Get to know a bit more about your executive committee candidates

The Griff has learned that candidate Jakob Cardinal has been removed from the ballot and taken off the elections page of the SAMU website. The chief returning officer has confirmed the candidate for VP External has been disqualified.

Joseph La Torre

Major: Philosophy

Minor: Psychology

Running for: VP governance and finance (re-elect)

When Joseph La Torre came back to MacEwan after taking a gap year during the pandemic, he was craving involvement.

So, what did he do? He joined the students’ council, sat on the then-called bylaws Policy Committee (now called the Governance Committee), co-founded the chess club, and eventually ran for the executive committee and won.

Since then, he’s still been keeping up with chess while learning the almost equally complex ins and outs of SAMU policy. During his first term as VP governance and finance, he helped cut red tape around outdated policies, tightened the budget, and helped SAMU tweak its inner workings as it shifted into a strategy that prioritized student advocacy.

But, his favourite memory of being on the Executive Committee (EC) comes from Fall Fest when he stood in front of the wailing crowds of students and announced some of the performers as they took the stage.

Going into this year, La Torre says, “The training wheels are off.” One mission he plans on tackling if he’s re-elected is making it so that any student who sits on a committee is able to receive a paid honorarium.

“Students are choosing to either work, study, or get involved in extracurriculars. We want to make sure that if they’re getting involved in anything government-related, whether that be MacEwan or SAMU, that we’re making sure that they get actually paid for their time and work.”

If he’s re-elected, he’s also going to continue the work to ensure SAMU’s policies and budget are setting the association up for long-term success and providing students with a positive and involved experience.

Gabriel Ambutong

Major: Political science

Minor: Economics

Running for: SAMU president (re-elect)

A students’ association may change its entire executive team every couple of years, which is why Gabriel Ambutong keeps his focus on the bigger picture.

He’s coming into his re-election campaign for SAMU president with a fistful of advocacy wins from last year. Some of them are short-term, like the waiving of the sports and wellness fees this semester and keeping mandatory non-instructional fees from going up. Others are more long-term, like implementing an annual affordability survey.

“The work’s not over. And I plan on setting up the foundations to make sure that our advocacy is stronger than ever moving forward,” Ambutong says.

His interest in student governance first started when he got involved with student groups. He joined the investment club as an executive during the hazy milieu of the pandemic and was the co-founding president of the chess club after that. From there, he, along with fellow chess club member Joseph A. La Torre, joined the Students’ Council and began learning the ins and outs of student advocacy. 

As both a student and an executive, he still finds time for chess and to spend time with his people. After graduation, he’s got his eyes set on law school, but in the meantime, he is keeping his energies focused on creating a lasting impact on student governance and setting up SAMU for long-term success.

Darcy Hoogers

Major: Professional communications

Minor: Journalism

Running for: VP academic

Darcy Hoogers knows all too well the anxiety-plagued process students go through when it comes to grade disputes. Last year, when Hoogers was surprised with a grade he felt didn’t represent his performance, he didn’t know what to do.

“It’s quite intimidating to reach out to that professor or instructor and be like, ‘Hey, I’ve got an issue with how you’ve assessed me,’” Hoogers says. 

For him, there was also the fear that if he did bring it up, it could affect how Hoogers was graded for the rest of the semester. His solution was to contact the chair — who ultimately turned him right back around, saying he couldn’t help him until Hoogers spoke with his instructor.

With the stress of a university semester filled with essays, mid-terms, and group projects hanging over him, Hoogers opted to cut his losses and take the class later on. But, it got him thinking about the VP academic role and how he might improve things for students in similar situations.

While he already has an English degree from the University of Alberta, Hoogers is back in the university thicket at MacEwan and enjoying a different experience. 

“At the U of A, it’s very much sink or swim. At MacEwan, all instructors I’ve had so far, to different degrees of course, want you to succeed.”

In this year’s election, he’s putting up a platform focused on improving transparency for student evaluation, improving transparency for textbook costs, and providing more affordable access to them. 

Liam Newbigging

The Griff


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