• A charismatic and successful lobbyist
• Leadership roles in CAUS and CASA
• Got an audience with provincial leaders
• Raised the profile of the SU
• Strained working relationship with exec
• Poor direct student communication
Oliver Bladek is everything you would expect from a politician. He is well-spoken, quite opinionated and has good intentions. But in true political form, the Vice-President External’s intentions don’t always translate into concrete action.
With that said, Bladek’s incessant work ethic and attention to detail have made him one of the most well-respected of all the Students’ Union executives thus far. His ambitious platform pegged him as destined to fail. Promises to chair the Council of Alberta University Students and to meet with provincial MLAs to discuss the current state of post-secondary education in Alberta were both achieved. However, not everything Bladek hoped to accomplish in his tenure has come through.
Bladek admitted some of his early ideas were misguided and attributes these to the steep learning curve involved with the position. In his platform he promised he would research and post off-campus parking maps as well as look at the potential for a U-Pass, a subsidized and mandatory student transit pass. Parking has taken a back seat to issues such as provincial lobbying while discussions over the U-Pass have been delegated to VP Operations and Finance Natasha Dhillon, but Bladek promised the winter session would be a time to tie up loose ends. It is in the job description of the VP External to work in conjunction with the SU President on policies or positions on tuition and student fee-related issues, but it was decided by the executive early on that tuition would be Barb Wright’s baby and that Bladek would play a supporting role. This role has been strained at best as both Wright and Bladek admit they do not always see eye to eye on how to handle things.
Bladek has been given much more freedom to pursue what he feels–and rightly so–are the more important aspects of his position. His communication with both provincial and federal leaders, including Alberta Learning Minister Lyle Oberg, Premier Ralph Klein and Federal Finance Minister Paul Martin, has restored respect for the University of Calgary SU. Bladek’s absence from the occasional SLC meeting is greatly overshadowed by the fact that he is on the road representing students just about every week. Whether it be in Ottawa, Edmonton, Lethbridge, Whistler, or any other place, Bladek has made a conscious effort to represent the views of Calgary undergrads.
Accordingly, great strides have been made in gaining acceptance from “the most well-respected premier in Canada.” Bladek’s professional decorum and commitment to finding solutions have earned him the respect of both the government and his peers.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Bladek’s door, phone, and e-mail are always open for student feedback. While he may not always get it, he is willing to discuss any issue or point of contention. This is all well and good but since many of the topics he deals with are never broached with students it seems unlikely anyone will dispute the fact that tuition needs to stop inflating and that student loan allocations are insufficient.
Overall Bladek has done quite a good job. While lacking in some areas, in regards to the more important roles of his position he has excelled thus far.