SAMU Executive Committee candidates: President and VP Operations and Finance

by | Mar 13, 2023 | Campus, Education | 0 comments

On March 14 to 16, MacEwan University students can vote for the new executive committee of the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU), who make important decisions about day-to-day operations and programs that directly impact the lives of students on campus. 

This year there are eight candidates vying for the five executive committee positions. Gabriel Ambutong and Joseph A. La Torre are running for president and vice-president operations and finance, respectively. Both Ambutong and La Torre are running uncontested.

We asked the candidates about the core ideas of their platform and the goals they have if elected to the EC. This is what they had to say. Answers have been edited for length and clarity. 

Gabriel Ambutong, president candidate: 

Why did you decide to run for the President position on the Executive Committee?

I am very passionate about fostering a supportive and inclusive community. But to understand why I’m running for president, I think it’s important to mention my involvement in our community. I’m currently serving my second term as your elected representative on our Students’ Council, the highest governing body within SAMU. I’ve also served as a founder and president of the Chess Fellowship and president of the Investment Club. My experiences in governance and leadership have greatly influenced my decision to run for president in this upcoming election. 

However, the main reason why I’m running is that I genuinely want to help create an environment where students feel valued.

What are the key elements of your platform?

My key priorities are:

  1. Affordability: Students are suffering from a high cost of living and lack of support. I intend to represent students’ needs at all levels of government. If elected, my efforts will be focused on advocating for immediate supports that can help alleviate some of the financial stress experienced by students. 
  2. Community Engagement: Fostering a greater sense of community among students is vital. Students should feel valued and have a sense of belonging. I plan to work closely with the other members of the Executive Committee to achieve this goal. 
  3. Inclusivity: We need to create a community where all students feel welcome, supported and safe. Students should never have to question whether they belong or not. I intend to advocate earnestly for inclusivity, diversity, and acceptance programs.

How will you support students in your position?

As Chair of the Executive Committee, I plan to assist all advocacy efforts and initiatives of the Executive Committee. Externally, I intend to represent our students as a delegate in municipal, provincial, and federal advocacy organizations such as the Edmonton Student Alliance, Council of Alberta University Students, and Canadian Alliance of Student Associations respectively. 

Why is it important that students vote in the election?

Voting lets you have a say. It lets you insert your voice in important decisions that ultimately impact you and your community. Let your voice be heard and vote!

Joseph A. La Torre, vice president operations and finance candidate: 

Why did you decide to run for the VP Operations and Finance position on the Executive Committee?

In my first couple of years of university, I was a very apathetic student — I just went to class, played basketball and worked out, and did not look to get further involved in extracurricular activities such as student groups or any volunteering. However, right before COVID, I started to get more involved by joining the student group PennyDrops where we’d give financial literacy presentations to students. 

It was only after my return to campus in the Fall 2021 semester that I continued to get involved because my friend, Alem Tesfay, encouraged me to campaign for Students’ Council. Being on Council for a year-and-a-half now, coupled with other extracurricular volunteer activities — such as the MacEwan Ambassador Program, Campus Tour Guide, New Student Orientation Speaker, First-Year Mentor, Founder and Executive of the Chess Fellowship of MacEwan, and Fit Buddy Volunteer — encouraged me to get involved on a higher level. 

I chose to run for the Vice President Operations and Finance position because, as a Student Councillor, I sat on the Bylaw and Policy Committee. I got to see how the work in that committee led to change in SAMU at an organizational level. Also, in the annual budget at Council, it was interesting to see where funds were allocated to best utilize the membership fees students pay SAMU. 

Ultimately, I believe that students are the becoming leaders of tomorrow, so it is important for us to get involved in leadership positions such as the Executive Committee to hopefully reflect some change, no matter how small. 

What are the key elements of your platform?

  1. Ensuring accountability of SAMU elected representatives 
  2. Continue proper financial oversight 

How will you support students in your position?

I will support students in my position by being accessible. I think the biggest problem with any leadership position in governance is that they are not accessible enough to the people they serve. I plan to go where the students are, and I will make sure that student voices are heard so I can accurately represent them. 

Also, I will make opportunities to get involved in governance at SAMU more accessible by letting students know about different governance, volunteer, or part-time positions available within SAMU. 

What goals do you wish to accomplish on the Executive Committee?

First and foremost, my goal is to create an Engagement Policy that outlines how SAMU Elected Representatives engage with the student body. The goal of this policy will be to create presence and accountability for SAMU’s elected representatives by clearly stating how SAMU elected representatives engage with the student body. The hope is that if the student body engages with their SAMU elected representatives more and knows who they are, there will be a larger interest in SAMU’s governance and the presence and accountability of these student leaders. 

What are some issues you feel passionately about tackling?

Some issues I feel passionately about tackling are tuition increases, the affordability crisis, food insecurity, downtown safety (because we are a downtown campus), and affordable education, to name a few. 

Why is it important that students vote in the election?

We, students, are going to be the decision-makers in the future, and so I think it is very important for students to vote. Even though voting in a student election is small, it can still reflect change. This voting is preparation for voting in the future, whether it is municipal, provincial or federal. 

We are the future citizens that will vote for who is in power and who will make the decisions in the future, so it is crucial for us to vote and get involved in leadership positions to meaningfully impact our future and be an impetus for change.

Mya Colwell

The Griff

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