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VP external candidate Teale Phelps Bondaroff (left) answers a question while fellow candidate Mike Selnes checks to see if it's over yet.
Jon Roe/the Gauntlet

On the external campaign trail

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This year's Students' Union general election external forum showcased five commissioners vying for four spots and two experienced vice-president candidates.

The external commission's mandate is to represent students to the government at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. The political climate for the coming year looks intense with the possibility of elections at all levels, creating huge opportunities for a strong external commission to gain headway with new governments.

Both vice-president candidates Mike Selnes and Teale Phelps Bondaroff want to pursue leadership positions in both the provincial and federal student lobby groups--the Council of Alberta University Students and the Canadian Alliance of Students' Associations, respectively.

A previous federal election candidate himself, Bondaroff has spent two years as the faculty of social sciences representative and wants GST to be abolished from textbook sales.

"My core priority is debt relief," said Bondaroff. "I think that debt relief hits on all the other topics--running an effective lobby campaign, coming up with good ideas and being really effective at engaging students at the grassroots level."

Current external commissioner Selnes' platform includes three main ideas--strengthening lobby power, mobilizing students through political action weeks and better communication with students.

"[Political clubs] have a lot of clout in areas we're working on," said Selnes. "They have mobile student bases already and without clubs being involved in the things we're doing we're killing a big link we have to students. We're a huge organization as the SU but we don't have that grassroots support. Clubs do."

External commissioner candidate and current faculty of medicine representative Glen Krueger also wants to see clubs used.

"I want to engage clubs more in the process of lobbying and getting students engaged," sad Krueger. "I think the clubs have a huge amount to offer. We have 154 clubs on campus. I'm pretty sure at least one out of 10 would want to get involved with SU activities to a greater extent."

Commissioner candidate Dalmy Baez is currently an operations and finance commissioner.

"Student engagement is my priority," said Baez. "I want political action week to be huge. I want tent city to be packed this year. I want students to start caring about what the SU's doing, what the university [administration] is doing and the quality of their education. I want students to be well informed and to be able to find out how they can get involved."

Commissioner hopeful and communications and culture student Kat Lord proposes to reach out to individual students.

"There's a huge plethora of people here on campus and they're all different and they all see things differently and we need to get in touch with them," said Lord. "We need to show them that we care by presenting information in ways that they can relate to."

Mohamed Ali Ahmad is a first-time SU candidate but has been involved with many clubs around campus.

"There are continuous efforts of lobbying for reduction of tuition," said Ahmad. "That's wonderful and I think that should always be continued, but with an international forum and multidisciplinary basis. We need to create something like that to empower our students because they are going to be global citizens and we need them to have the skills and tools to do that."

Commissioner hopeful Phil Hunter has spent two years on the Residence Students' Association.

"I think we need to increase scholarships and bursaries, especially from the provincial government," said Hunter. "We all know that the province of Alberta has enough money to give out."

External commissioner candidates Brianna Butchart, Jamie Lall and Tanmeet Singh failed to attend the forum.

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