BY GEMMA PAGE / FREELANCE WRITER
The Augustana Student Association (ASA) Candidate’s Forum for the upcoming Winter 2021 election was held on Monday March 15, 2021 at 6pm. Rather than being held in the Wahkohtowin lodge, candidates and students gathered on a Google Meets link, which also was live streamed on the ASA Facebook page.
The candidate forum was an opportunity for the candidates to present their platforms in a public space. It was also a chance for the student body to learn what issues the candidates are running on and question them on the conditions of their goals and beliefs. Students were encouraged to attend in order to make an informed decision when voting in the representatives of the student government for the 2021-2022 school year.
This year, 9 current Augustana students are running for positions on the ASA.
There are two candidates running for the position of ASA President: Robel Ng’ong’a and Benjamin Wilson:
Robel Ng’ong’a has been part of the ASA this past year as VP Academic and has contributed his efforts to several successful programs including starting a student tutoring service for Augustana students and transitioning the After U program into a podcast on Spotify. His goals for next year’s term include getting free open source textbooks available for all students attending Augustana classes, continuing to expand on the student tutoring service as well as supporting international students by advocating for more flexible methods of instruction when dealing with online learning.
Although Benjamin Wilson has never run for the ASA before, he proudly mentioned that he was one of two student representatives on the Augustana Science Department Council and is currently the President of the Augustana Wildlife Society club. If he is elected as ASA President, Benjamin wants to explore more avenues for students to get their voices heard, wants to research more opportunities for students to get exposed to the work environment before they graduate, provide more support for student clubs and promote positive mental health as well as ensure that mental health is respected and always considered.
The other positions have only a single candidate running, however all candidates were still required to take part in the online forum.
Sarah Nagel is running for the 2nd year representative position. She is excited to organize online, and if restrictions allow, in-person events. Although she personally hasn’t had the opportunity to attend any in person events, she wants to give first year students as well as next year’s second year students (or as she calls them: First Years 2.0) the chance to have a true Augustana experience.
The candidate for 3rd year representative was Kyra Gustal, who plans to focus and advocate for student success. During a time of uncertainty and stress, Kyra believes that student success deserves to be recognized.
Rebecca Nicholson is running to be part of the ASA for her fourth consecutive year, this time for Councillor at Large. She plans to continue working on the ASA food pantry, a project that she has been monitoring and organizing for the past year.
The candidate for International Student Representative is Joseph Menezes. He plans to focus on communication and transparency with international students as well as the International Student Association from Main Campus. Joseph also intends to create new avenues of adaptation to a new life experience for international students attending Augustana.
Running for the position of VP student life is Pia Vij, who wants to give students the true on-campus experience (if restrictions allow) and hold events with strict Covid-19 regulations in place. Pia also plans to use social media to connect with more students.
Korah Sanderson is running for VP Communications. Korah plans to improve all ASA social media pages in order to “make them more personable” which will increase student engagement. She also wants to encourage student ideas and involvement in the ASA for the upcoming school year.
The final candidate of the evening was Tanner Gausvik who is running for VP Academic. If elected, Tanner plans to collect data and opinions from students regarding the final experimental year of the 3/11 semester in order to benefit further Augustana students. Tanner also plans to certify that the new degrees offered to Augustana students remain as valuable as any other degree offered at UofA campuses.
There was a lively question period that followed immediately after each of the candidate’s platform speeches, with each candidate being asked between 4 and 6 questions. Voting for the Augustana Student Election is held virtually on March 17 and 18. Make sure you take part in deciding your 2021-2022 Augustana Student Association team.