If the Students' Union were comprised of alcoholic beverages, they would be lucky to have a sophisticated, vintage glass of wine at their helm. Like a good shiraz, president Charlotte Kingston is aged (experienced), strong and has a kick.
Kingston's greatest strength is her strong speaking skills. That, paired with her intimate knowledge of how Alberta's post-secondary system works, makes her a potent advocate for students. When media wants to hear what the U of C's student body is thinking, they go to our SU president, and with Kingston in charge, students can be comfortable that someone else is speaking for them -- and after five years covering the SU, that's more than I can say for past presidents.
Kingston's experience outside of the University of Calgary's SU -- she was the University of Lethbridge SU's vice-president academic -- has given her a refreshing outlook on the role of a students' union, and as such she's been a voice of reason in the SU's governance review, a proposal that will drastically change the organization's structure.
Kingston -- who started off in the U of C's SU as an external commissioner -- and her execs got an early start on tuition consultation this year, beginning the discussion in September. With the announcement that Alberta's post-secondary institutions can apply to raise tuition past the 1.5 per cent that the province had promised, that discussion has changed and Kingston will largely be judged on how she captures and represents the feeling of students -- at least the ones that are paying attention.
SU elected officials gave overwhelmingly positive feedback of Kingston's tenure, pointing to her broad knowledge of the U of L and the University of Alberta as being an asset for the organization. She is both supportive of her vice-presidents and accessible not only to commissioners and faculty representatives, but to the average student.
With VP academic Meg Martin, Kingston got the General Faculties Council to realize they did not have a teaching and learning document included in their long-term plan, a win that can't hurt teaching quality at our research-focused institution.
In the new year the SU executive face the potential abolition of the Quality Money initiative, a new incoming president and the fall out from class sizes -- despite a faculty hiring freeze, a reported 1,500 extra students were admitted in September -- with Kingston in charge, students are in good hands. Pay attention.