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SAITSA Executive Council members discuss plans

Last week, the Weal spoke with SAITSA Executive Council (EC) members Ryan Morstad, Tanya Pittis and Garrett Koehler, about the SAITSA Executive Council election, goals for the upcoming academic year, and ways students can better their SAIT experience.

After the dust settled on March’s EC vote, one of the unique outcomes of this year’s EC is each member’s previous student politics experience.

Three of the four EC positions are returning for a second term, and the only non-incumbent, newly elected SAITSA President Ryan Morstad, is also SAITSA’s current Chairman of the Board of Directors. He was first elected to the Board of Directors (BOD) in 2017.

Garrett Koehler VP External and VP Academic Tanya Pittis, also ran unopposed for their respective positions.

Morstad is optimistic about the future of student politics at SAIT, and points to a more competitive race in the fall for the SAITSA BOD.

The SAITSA President-Elect said he believes having many candidates at the BOD level will create more candidates at the EC level next year as BOD members gain experience.

“We have been working on it, and it’s coming,” said Morstad

EC members believe one of the strengths of their upcoming term will be prior experience.

“The first year was a learning experience full out,” said Pittis, adding that the VP Academic role has a number of policies and procedures she needed to learn in order to do her job effectively.

“A lot of times projects we take up take longer than a year to accomplish,” said Koehler, who believes his extra year as VP External will help when dealing with slow moving entities like government.

The coming academic year will also give the EC members an opportunity to advance initiatives important to each of them.

For Morstad, one of the first orders of business will be looking into the feasibility of a number of his platform policies, including a fall reading week.

“There’s some great studies that are coming out of Ontario right now that proves their effectiveness especially with mental health,” said Morstad.

“I also really want to work on the transfer credit system, or the Alberta transfer credit system in general, to hopefully mirror B.C.’s transfer guide system.”

Looking into creating cannabis consumption spaces on cannabis will also be explored in the coming year.

Pittis is eager to tackle incorporating exchange rates into the student grant program, giving increased financial support to the Aircraft Maintenance Engineer program, and creating a how-to-guide for student complaints and misconduct.

Koehler had two main priorities, pressing the provincial government for the funding of SAITSA HQ, and increasing support for sexual violence victims on campus.

Finally, each candidate highlighted one thing about SAIT and SAITSA that students might not know about, which could make a difference in student’s lives.

“I want to spread the more awareness about this emergency funding that the Lamb Learner Success Center has,” said Pittis, adding that they have additional services students should explore.

“I definitely would want students to be aware of how important advocacy towards the provincial and federal government is,” said Koehler, pointing to recent victories for students with the passing of Bill 19 in the legislature.

“The most important thing for me is for people to know about SAITSA and what we do and to try and get involved, because we make a big difference,” said Morstad.

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