Students' Union vice-president external Mike Selnes spends most of his time with his luscious hair pulled into tight buns on the side of his head, spying on government officials for the sake of the rebellion and recording risque holographic messages. Selnes' job description makes him accountable for lobbying all levels of government in the best interests of the students. He's also responsible for public and media relations as well as raising political awareness in students.
Selnes' platform was split into four main focuses; lobbying, Political Action Week, communication with students and environmental commitment. Selnes was to seek an executive role for either the Canadian Alliance of Students' Association or the Council of Alberta University Students, a goal he succeeded in accomplishing when he became CAUS chair in May 2007. CAUS represents all three Alberta universities with a unified perspective when approaching the provincial government. His lobbying has also proved successful in maintaining the $350 million for students in the Millennium scholarship fund that will soon begin an assessment of its own.
Tent city, an integral part of PAW, was accomplished in capturing media attention this year. Selnes' work during the Affordable Housing Forum and a policy paper called "Working Together: Finding Solutions to Affordable Accommodations for Students" were especially notable. He managed to get several influential people including Affordable Housing and Urban Development Associate Minister Yvonne Fritz and local ward one Alderman Dale Hodges to address issues of student housing and legalizing secondary suites. While a study is in consideration regarding the benefits of a residence building for multiple post-secondary schools across the city, no progress is being made regarding secondary suites. However, the day after the paper was released, U of C president Dr. Harvey Weingarten announced that a new residence would be built.
Other members of the SU have expressed concern with Selnes' desire to get along with everyone. They believe a little more aggression might help to accomplish more politically, with less chance of being taken for granted. The main complaint of other colleagues was the little time he spends around the office. However, as VP external an integral part of his position is travelling to political centres and meeting with officials, which leaves little time to connect with students on campus. The SU survey, put out several months ago, aims at keeping Selnes in touch with what students want most.
Future plans for Selnes include an Environmental Awareness Week to maintain that aspect of his initial campaign. He is also attempting to arrange textbook consultations with different interested groups to inquire about the possibility of decreasing prices or copyright costs on course packages. Selnes is already in preparation for lobbying on behalf of students during the possible upcoming provincial election. He would like to put student needs back into the public horizon and hopefully gain support from potential candidates.
While Selnes has been very successful in all of his campaigning efforts, his only challenge is to make sure that he doesn't lose contact with students.