CSA Debate

Written by: Sarah Cowan

On Friday March 12th, an online debate was held for the CSA student candidates. Here is each question with each candidate and a summary of what their responses were.

Concordia Science Union:

Question #1: How do you plan to represent all of the under represented groups in the science events?
Michael Pelzer: The underrepresented groups are an important group of people. All of those groups should have a voice in all of the clubs. The events should be all inclusive. It is important for those groups to be given a voice and Michael would represent the science union accordingly.
Shannon Ross: To get those underrepresented groups to get more recognition, it would be ideal to bring in more guest speakers to discuss this issue and a good idea would be to have science week focus on those underrepresented groups. Bringing forward a collaboration with the Concordia Pride Club since science week is often found on the same week as pride and including different scientists from that community would be benefitable.
Brooke Froment: Involving the concept of collaborating with Pride Week is seen as a good idea. Introducing more events that are centered around certain events that are made by the Science Union. Having events include different things like guest speakers, or t-shirt making. She wants to represent the first year students who come to Concordia, especially starting at university they are shy and do not have a voice.

Question #2: Can you give any examples of new events that you think the science union can benefit from?
Shannon Ross: As VP marketing, she has taken into consideration as to what events have worked in the past and which ones have not. It is important to provide events that support students, especially for next years second year students who have not attended a class on campus before. Support those who will be working in the labs for the first time. Connecting with members of the science faculty about running a seminar for basic laboratory skills. Holding a science trivia night would be something fun to do and might encourage cooperation and teamwork among the students.
Brooke Froment: With school work being so busy, it can be difficult to find a time for work and to get work experience. Froment would like to get a work experience event and have guest speakers come in then after the event is complete, you will be able to put on your resume that you have attended that conference and have that knowledge. Resume building is another aspect to involve as well, whether it is a resume to get into a higher degree program or to get into the field that you want to get into.
Michael Pelzer: Making labs more interactive by introducing some DIY science labs that can be done at home during science week. Bringing a Quiplash night would be a fun and interactive thing with flexible times because many people have work and other commitments.

Question #3: How do you plan to make connections with the science facility to help create new events and get support?
Brooke Froment: Reach out to the science professors and see if they can do a journal club to help the students understand and more fully explain certain aspects in the science field.
Michael Pelzer: Communicating with the professors regularly to help find opportunities. Pelzer would have the intention of being a good student in their classes to gain likability with the faculty.
Shannon Ross: Making connections with the faculty regularly is a vital action to stick with. With being a 3rd year student, Ross has already made quite a few connections with some of the science faculty and would use those previously built relationships to help benefit her events and gaining support. She would continue to develop and maintain those connections. Shannon would also be open to the idea of inviting faculty members to the CSU meetings.

Question #4: Michael, your speech mentions numerous social media platforms that you are hoping to utilize. Given the CSA’s risk of managing numerous platforms without resources to oversee the platforms and their message at all times, how would you reduce that risk if utilized and further, given that would follow under VP marketing, how would you encourage your VP Marketing to complete a much high workload and remove other aspects of their plate?
Michael Pelzer: He would consider persuading the VP Marketing to make more awareness to the events. Expanding the network would be helpful and Pelzer plans to collaborate with the VP Marketing and the council.

Question #5: Brooke, in your bio you mentioned you are apart of the Concordia’s basketball team. With being a student and on the team, how would you manage classes, labs, basketball team member and being a president for the Concordia Science Union?
Brooke Forement: Having events planned on the weekdays rather than the weekends that she will not be in the city will be more benefitable. That way Brooke will be able to attend those events. With her active volunteering and job shadowing and having a busy lifestyle overall, she believes that she will be able to handle the addition of the position of the president of the CSU.

Question #6: Shannon, given your experience as VP Marketing, in what way could the marketing be improved for the next CSU VP Marketing candidate?
Shannon Ross: The next CSU VP Marketing candidate should focus on events marketed two weeks in advance at the least. Supporting the VP Marketing and ensure that they have plenty of time and do not need to stress about being on a time crunch.

General Council – Arts:

Question #1: As a general councilor, your role is to oversee operations of the CSA. What skills do you possess that would provide valuable insight and oversight to our operations?
Mitchell Moore: With being an active member in the City of Edmonton Youth council for three years and has also volunteered with the John Humphrey Society for eight weeks. His knowledge will help Concordia improve any issues that will arise.
Lattaf Ahmad: With Lattaf being a social person, he plans to attend the meetings and events that are at Concordia. No matter if they are online or offline. The social and leadership skills he has will help him connect to others, whether they are students or faculty.
Ashtyn Sample: Sample can be seen as a creative minded person who excels with critical thinking and problems solving skills as well. With often moves forward with what she feels strongly about. Ashtyn wants to provide solutions to any problem that arises.

Question #2: What committee would you like to sit on and why?
Lattaf Ahmad: Mental health. Being a first year student is difficult with bringing forward new challenges. He will encourage the students to connect with Peer Support if they need it. Even second and third year students are having this change as well and it will take a toll on their mental health, as he will encourage those students to reach out as well.
Ashtyn Sample: Mental Health committee. In this pandemic, it is key to make sure that Concordia has a strong mental health system. With the support that Concordia can offer, Ashtyn would like to make sure that it can each each student at Concordia.
Mitchell Moore: Mental Health committee. Moore would like to encourage the students to be open on what is going on and reach out and to improve the lives of Concordia students and help ensure that Concordia is a safe place for everyone.

Question #3: The general council representative position provides the communication channel between the general council itself and the faculty union. Are you applying to be on both or how would you ensure communication if you’re not a member of the union itself?
Ashtyn Sample: Sample does have plans to be a part of the Arts union. She would like to go for the VP Marketing in the Arts union and that is her intention. That way there will be clear communication between the union and the CSA.
Mitchell Moore: Be apart of both the council and the union. Moore has done some events with the union.
Lattaf Ahmad: Despite Ahmad only applying for one position, he is going to ensure that he is a good representative. He will ensure that there is effective communication. Lattaf will still focus to attend all meetings and talk with the union representative and ensure that he has all of the information he needs to help the students.

General Council For Science:

Question #1: The general council representative position provides a communication channel between the general council and the faculty unions. Are you applying for both or how would you ensure communication if you’re not a member of the union itself?
Cassandra Cowan: Cassandra is applying for both. There is an intention to have effective and open communication between the council and the union. Having the effective communication helps information gets conveyed a lot quicker in a more timely manner.
Michael Pelzer: While Pelzer is only applying for the one position, he is wanting to have open communication between the general council and the union. He aspires to get in contact with others and have active contacts.

Question #2: What committee would you like to sit on and why?
Michael Pelzer: Mental Health. With being in the pandemic, mental health is at its lowest it has been in a while. Pelzer would like to get the students more resources to make sure that they get the help they need.
Cassandra Cowan: Mental Health. With having experience with mental health, she has been apart of the Alberta healthy campus board. Cowan wants to provide insight. Incase things do not work out, she wants to be apart of the Judicial committee. With time management and drive, she believes she can be a valuable asset.

Question #3: How would you ensure higher levels of attendance for general council meetings?
Cassandra Cowan: Reaching out before hand would provide a benefit. Cowan would ensure that personal emails are delivered to each person. Finally, if someone does not make it to the meeting and Cassandra would hold people accountable for not attending those meetings and have consequences for not showing at those meetings.

Question #4: Michael, you discussed in your speech that there will be a need for students in the science department to have a reorientation to the science labs. Since your general council role does not sit on the academic standards council, how would you look to encourage more in depth orientations back to labs from your position as a general council science rep?
Michael Pelzer: There is a plan to connect with the lab professors and explain the situation and ask for them to reteach basic lab instructions and information. Possibly set a specific day or time to show the students how the lab works.

Executive Council – President:
Question #1: James, in your speech you mentioned that you were in Beijing last year. This role requires you to represent all students and to be extremely well networked with them on campus and visible as a known figure. How would you work to ensure that you are able to connect with all of the students on campus on a large scale as well as quick as possible?
James Wakelin: James would want to ensure that he is easy to get a hold of. He plans to attend all off campus events and use social media to increase publicity. Wakelin wants to be present on campus as much as he can. While also having an office on campus, he desires to have open door policy for students to come in and speak with him.

Question #2: The CSA President is required to represent Concordia as a principle representative member of ASEC. What is ASEC, what are its objectives and what priority would you like to add to ASEC’s objectives?
James Wakelin: ASEC stands for “Alberta Student Executive Council”. It exists as an advocacy organization that represents interests of Alberta students by having representatives from sixteen post secondary institutions from across Alberta. They work with student representatives and stakeholders to overcome issues students face. It’s done directly through policies and legislations in Alberta government advocating with ministers and MLA’s. Their objectives have been getting millions of dollars for mental health funding and funding for programs on campus. Objectives he wants to add would be ensure that all students have a voice in government and have a transparency in funding. As well as students having more of a say with tuition, costs and required resources.

Question #3: The CSA general council has had issues with attendance this year, how would you work to enforce and insure that meetings are well attended, with a high level of professionalism?
James Wakelin: Wakelin would ensure that all of the meeting times are convenient for the majority of the council. James would also make sure that meetings are mandatory to attend, emergencies excluded.

Question #4: The president oversees all aspects of the organization directly including administration and assisting all of the VP’s and oversights of budgets, events, clubs, unions, events and marketing. What skills sets do you possess and how would you manage these areas that are through assisting and oversight, while lacking direct experience?
James Wakelin: James has had previous experience as a restaurant manager. Despite not having any direct training, he is willing to gain as much knowledge as possible. In his previous job, he has gained skills like time management and professionalism. No direct experience might be a learning curve but he is willing to learn.

VP Finance
Question #1: What systems would implement to our current financial controls to assist and maintaining our budget?
Navleen Kaur: Navleen would want to ensure that nothing is missed during any of the meetings and that everything is discussed in its entirety. She personally would want to look over everything herself and make sure that nothing is gone unseen. If something does go unseen, Navleen will have her immediate attention to it and present it at the meetings.

Question #2: Navleen, you mentioned additional events in your speech, how would you promote additional events from the VP Finance position? Additionally, how are you going to be holding more events and have more volunteer hours?
Navleen Kaur: Kaur will ensure that she has open availability and has plenty of office hours when she is on campus. She encourages anyone to come and see her to talk if there is anything that is wrong or that needs to get clarified. She will also make sure that all of administrative responsibilities are being fulfilled.

Question #3: How would you ensure equal funding access for all students while being aware that some groups often maintain a large budgets and others receive little. How would you enforce proportional funding access for the students and students equal to their input?
Navleen Kaur: She will take a took at the budget in its entirety. If there is a certain club that needs additional money, she will bring it up to the council and see if they can negotiate something for that club.

Question #4: Explain, in depth, your priority to start more events, helping club and unions organize those events and allocating more resources to clubs and unions increasing the frequency of those events as our current events are usually 3-5 days per week. How would you increase the resources while they are not using them.
Navleen Kaur: Kaur would like to promote more events, whether they are free or not. Including having more volunteers and let them know of the policies. Navleen would also encourage more campus participation.

VP Student Life
Question #1: How would you ensure that student funds are spent in a manner which is both restricted and not wasteful, but still provides for the best possible experience for the students?
Tseide Krekelberg: Tseide would like the funds to go to mostly events that Concordia hosts since she will be in charge of those events. She believes that events should be available to every student, making it all inclusive. Alongside the clubs and unions that want to provide for the school.

Question #2: The CSA has numerous policies that effect your position. What would you consider to be the most important policy effecting it and why?
Tseide Krekelberg: Students are the biggest importance at Concordia. Tseide would ensure that students can be who they want to be and have the faculty be open to help them at any time. Since Covid-19 has changed so much, focusing on the students in any way would be the greatest asset.

Question #3: Students have been without major CSA events for the past year will you change the events and how you market them or add additional ones for participation and have inclusion for all students?
Tseide Krekelberg: Promoting more on the CSA Instagram would be great asset. Choosing specific events for having them to be online. Ideally, she would like to focus on the bigger events and make those minor ones online.

Question #4: The VP Student Life has the largest direct budget within the CSA. Given the extensive finance and budgeting requirements of the role, what skills do you have in regards to operating a large budget and how would you ensure that your budget is followed and you’re held accountable regarding finding finance and fun management?
Tseide Krekelberg: Tseide plans to work together with the VP of Finance for a majority of the time. She is also observing as to what would benefit the group and what may go into an event that will get hosted on campus.

VP Academic
Question #1: The CSA VP Academic is responsible to represent the CSA at different levels of government. How do we do this and how would you improve upon that representation?
Ellis Connelly: The CSA represents the different levels of government between student body, faculty body, municipality and provincially. Ellis has good relations with another lady who is the MLA and a good connection with another individual who is apart of the provincial stand point. There is also good connections with ASEC. Connelly would continue to build and maintain those relationships and positive communication to ensure there is a continuation of making positive movements. In addition, there should be more communication between Ellis and those groups as well as passing on any information that would those groups would effect.
Mayrane Lopes: Inside of Concordia and even to the higher levels of government, the CSA VP Academic represents Concordia and all of the students and any concerns they may have. Mayrane would present herself and create different relationships with all of the necessary people.

Question #2: The CSA is a non-partisan organization working to ensure that students have a voice on and off campus with all groups. How would you ensure that the students voices are heard within the different governments and parties and give an example of an issue, the method of access and discussion as it would differ between those groups?
Mayrane Lopes: Depending on who she is speaking with (whether its a professor or a higher member of ASEC), Mayrane plans to adjust how she is speaking to others. With the main focus of representing the students, Lopes will have a desire to get to know different students and will be fully aware of their concerns and will want to represent them accordingly.
Ellis Connelly: Connelly would ensure that she is fully involved with any issue that gets presented. If she needs to take it to a higher level of government, she would like to be be fully aware of what is wrong before she goes to that higher council. For an example, Ellis discussed if there was to ever be an issue with the representation of the LGBTQ+ community. If an individual came to Connelly and voiced their concerns, she would bring it forward to the general council first to see what can be done. If no solution is made with the general council, she would feel comfortable reaching out to any higher power government to get a solution to the problem.

Question #3: The CSA VP Academic is required to represent Concordia as the secondary representative member of ASEC. What is ASEC? What are its objectives and what priorities would you add to these objectives?
Mayrane Lopes: ASEC is the Alberta Student Council and in her position she would be representing Concordia. Some of the issues can be resolved in Concordia, but if there is a need to go to ASAC about a certain issue, Lopes would be fully aware of the situation that she is dealing with and be aware of the people that she will be dealing with.
Ellis Connelly: ASEC is the Alberta Student Executive Council. They currently represent seventeen universities across Alberta, totaling over 120,000 students that they represent. Their key objectives are transferability, open education resources, transparency and affordability. Ellis would really like to focus on the better cost controls for all the academic expenses. Getting involved with those would have Connelly inclined to apply for a board position for ASEC if she wanted to get more involved with those discussions.

Question #4: Mayrane, your speech mentioned that you are unsure as to who you should reach out to about some of the issues while you are in school last year. How would you ensure that students have better access to find who to talk to and any other information? If you have any specific examples you can provide them. You also mentioned that you felt, at times, not well represented. In what ways would you change the way that you represent students to better their experience?
Mayrane Lopes: Lopes would help tell the students that with the confusion that they are not alone. She would help by researching ways of connecting with people. In addition to the previous ideas, she would also make herself available to the students. So if they had any questions, they would be able to reach out to her directly.

Question #5: How would you ensure that students are better able to find information about who to talk to on campus? How would you ensure that students feel that they have proper representation?
Ellis Connelly: Ellis would want to put forward an open door policy, that way she will always be available to students if they ever want to talk to her and encourage them to reach out if they need. Connelly would also have plenty of communication with the VP Marketing, doing that would ensure that everything is being advertised on all platforms and that every students is aware of what is coming up.

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