SAMRU’s next executive council includes mix of incumbents, fresh faces
By Noel Harper, News Editor & Tristan Oram, Staff Writer
Two familiar faces and two new members will make up the Student Association of Mount Royal University’s (SAMRU) Representation Executive Council (REC) for the 2021-22 academic year.
Students voted in a more eclectic mix of educational experience to the council, compared to its current iteration, composed entirely of students of Mount Royal’s Policy Studies program. Beyond the two incumbents in this program, one new representative arrived from Education, while the other is studying Communications.
Eleven candidates ran for the council’s four positions, and each race was contested, meaning at least two students were vying for the role. In addition to the challenges faced by a prospective council candidate in any other year, these candidates needed to present their vision to students without meeting them face-to-face or campaigning on campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In lieu of an all-candidate forum, interviews were recorded with each student and posted to YouTube. SAMRU also ran ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA) sessions for each position through its Discord server, inviting the Mount Royal community to message the candidates with questions.
As of Feb. 26 at 5:30 p.m., when the “unofficial” results were reported by SAMRU, 1,432 votes had been cast over the week-long election period, representing 11.6 per cent of a possible 12,308 student voters.
Spirit River Striped Wolf will serve his second term as REC president during the coming year. He says that he has dedicated the past five years of his life to advocacy for Indigenous youth, an experience that lends itself to advocating on behalf of students to the university and to governments.
“SAMRU has lacked Indigenous representation, and I am really proud of my demographic background and how it helps me to see a different perspective of the student experience right off the bat,” Striped Wolf said during the Discord AMA for the President position.
Striped Wolf pushed to advocate directly to the Alberta government, rather than the university’s board of directors, on the issue of increasing tuition. He also hopes to see in-person classes return by the upcoming fall semester, which he says rests with the university and Alberta Health Services prioritizing on-campus learning in a safe manner.
Yasmin Ahmed will be serving as VP Academic. The Bachelor of Communications student has highlighted important issues such as improving and advocating for students’ mental health during online learning, as well as increasing minority representation throughout the university and permanently extending course withdrawal dates.
“I believe that currently, we do not have a sufficient amount of time to recognize our possible success in the course,” Ahmed wrote in a Feb. 24 email.
“Students should be able to have more time to decide something that will follow them for the rest of their educational career,” she said, also discussing her desire to offer students a credit course per semester that won’t affect their GPA.
Ahmed also talked about increasing engagement with the student body by holding focus groups with clubs on campus. “I believe that to see improvement in MRU academia, there needs to be a constant flow of communication between the council, administration and the student body,” she wrote.
Rachel Timmermans will once again serve as VP External — having been elected to REC for the first time after joining post-election in 2020. She was hired to fill the vacant position during the fall 2020 semester, after unsuccessfully running for president during the previous election.
On Discord, Timmermans discussed her work with the recently formed Calgary Student Alliance on such issues as affordable use of transit in the absence of the UPass, and the needs of students and young people within the City of Calgary Guidebook for Greater Communities. She also wants to continue advocating for a fair outcome from the province’s Alberta 2030 report, learning about building relationships with elected officials while on the job previously.
Joseph Nguyen, a second-year Bachelor of Education student, will be SAMRU’s next VP of Student Affairs. Nguyen talked about his experience on multiple committees, including his work as Events Chair for MRU’s Education and Undergraduate Society, which he says involves discussing strategies to better the lives of MRU’s education students.
“My student experiences in the MRU Education program have given me the vision to identify the everyday challenges that students face and to create practical solutions for these issues,” Nguyen wrote on Discord.
Nguyen wants to increase co-op internship and employment opportunities for students by “advocating for all levels of government to increase funding programs such as the Canada Summer Jobs Program, Summer Temporary Employment Program, and the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy.” Nguyen also hopes to promote and support current mental health programs to all students through SAMRU emails and social media.