By Jan Creaser
Covering issues like student debt and liaisons with various levels of government, the Feb. 22 Vice-president External forum allowed candidates Nassr Awada, Christa Big Canoe and Melanie McNaughton to answer questions
for students. Paul Novosad, also a candidate, did not attend the forum.
Students’ Union VP Events Miki Stricker moderated the forum, asking five questions related to issues like student bursaries, Calgary Transit and ways to
voice student concerns off-campus.
All the candidates agreed on increasing media attention of student issues, lobbying all levels of government for support and the need to increase student bursaries
and scholarships. However, facts about performance envelope funding conflicted between Awada, Big Canoe and McNaughton.
Performance envelope funding was created by the provincial government to act as an incentive for post-secondary institutions to meet goals in accessibility, responsiveness, affordability and research excellence.
Each institution is rated and then given a portion of the funding depending on how well they meet the requirements.
McNaughton answered first, criticizing envelope funding by saying that the university now receives less money than it did in the past under the program.
"We need a re-evaluation of envelope funding," said McNaughton. "There are some detriments to the process."
Big Canoe agreed with McNaughton.
"The criteria limit funding to the university," she said. "But if we follow the rules
and regulations of the process, we do receive money [under the program]."
Awada approved of envelope funding, arguing that, by his analysis, the university actually receives more money under envelope funding. However, he did complain about the process for reaching certain performance indicators.
"It [envelope funding] does restrict some things," he said. "Third- and fourth-year students get screwed because programs like Scholar’s Advantage [designed to increase accessibility] take away parking spots and other things from them."