by Elise Thomsen
Posters cover the bulletin boards year round at the University of Regina, but many have taken a distinctly political turn in the past few weeks. It’s Students' Union election time!
This year, there are three candidates running for URSU president. Two of the candidates are part of an on-campus political slate, For Students and Voice of Students, both hailing from the faculty of business administration. The third is independent.
The two slates have nearly identical platforms, with relatively minor differences. Voice of Students presidential candidate Kent Peterson said he finds it fishy that For Students’ platform is similar to his slate’s platform, which was posted on the web one week before For Students posted theirs. Kyle Addison, the incumbent presidential candidate for For Students, said the insinuation that they copied the platform is “ludicrous” and “largely untrue."
Green issues are at the top of the docket for Voice of Students. Among the initiatives they want are green roofs, alternative energy for the U of R, community gardens and more recycling.
Peterson wants to see better handicap accessible housing and buildings on campus. “I took an elevator ride with a pair of individuals who were in wheelchairs and they told me how difficult it is (getting around campus),” he said.
He also raised the issue of posting some important items in multiple languages, including braille and French.
“We want cultural inclusion,” Peterson said. His party was the first to propose a prayer room. “That idea came from our meetings with the Muslim Students Association. But also one of our team members, Haanim Nur, is a Muslim herself,” said Peterson.
Other items on the agenda for both slates are family housing and daycare spots, a better parking situation, and tuition freezes. “We can’t guarantee a tuition freeze, but we can guarantee that we’ll fight hard for one,” said Peterson.
Kyle Addison said he feels “great” about his administration’s accomplishments over the past two years. He highlighted how they turned The Owl around. They inherited a nearly $200,000 deficit two years ago and are forecast to make a profit of $40,000 this year.
Addison and his slate have also worked with provincial politicians on tuition increase caps and developing more accessible loans.
Addison said those extra funds will be put back into student societies and the President's Advisory Council. He said a union fee decrease and lockers fees are under review.
“Our current childcare facilities on campus are at maximum levels,” added Addison. His administration lobbied the provincial government to help increase the number of childcare places on campus, he said. He said MLA Rob Norris recognized this need in a meeting with him two weeks ago.
The stand alone candidate is Reid Hill, a fifth year history and political science major.
Hill’s primary focus would be to make the union more transparent. He said the current administration has not properly included students in the union or made important records available. “As members, we should be able to see finance statements,” said Hill. He wants a tuition reduction and freeze too.
Asked about housing, Hill said it was a definite problem for students, but that the university already has significant debt from building the Research and Innovation Center and he doesn’t feel additional housing is feasible right now.
Like his opponents, Hill thinks green issues are important too. He wants to look at the UPass proposal again. The University of Saskatchewan uses a similar system and Hill said the U of R could implement an opt-in or opt-out version of this. He also said we should consider a paperless campus.
The election is March 16 through 17 online in the self-serve link at www.uregina.ca. “I really want students to get out and vote!” said Addison.
Abive: Election posters in the hall
Middle: Kent Peterson speaking with Florence Duesterbeck
Photos by Elise Thomsen