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Selling slates to students

by Archives March 28, 2001
CSU presidential candidates butted heads in debates on March 21 and 23 over issues including this year’s CSU administration, the fraud and the role of the CSU on the international stage.
The majority of questions from spectators were about the current CSU executives and their actions. The universal message from all five slates was the need for
change from the Green administration, and a healing from the sins of the past.
But the direction of that change wasn’t unanimous.
The Access Party emphasized the need for a more accessible and visible CSU.
Also, Access’ Sabrina Stea was proud of the fact that she’s the first female CSU presidential candidate in a few years.
The Schulz Executive stressed the need for real change from previous administration and their combined experience of their slate in the CSU.
In the debates, it was pointed out that two members from both parties’ slates were CSU employees this year and were part of the “old” administration. Some even accused the Access slate of being a re-incarnation of this year’s
executives.
The remaining Students 4 Students, Unionists, and Concordia Students’ Party slates were mostly newcomers to the Concordia political stage. Ralph Lee of the Students 4 Students slate promoted a de-politicized CSU that wouldn’t divide its voting public. He also promised to revitalized the campus radio station.
Paul Backman – who was for the most part soft-spoken and seemed shy, but was actually suffering from the flu – concentrated on the need for a responsible administration that would pay back a $500,000 loan and proposed a third student newspaper that would concentrate on CSU-related activities.
The Unionists’ Hammad Baig, an exchange student from England, underscored his experience in other student governments and promised the creation of more
student jobs and international student exchanges.

Through both debates, there was no want for topics of discussion from the audience, as both debates filled their times allotted. Over 300 people attended
Wednesday’s debate in the Hall building. The People’s Potato even catered the event. Around 50 people showed up at the March 23 debate at Loyola, though
two-thirds of the participants were either outgoing CSU employees, or CSU executive hopefuls.
The exchange during both debates veered towards the CSU’s role outside Concordia.
Although the debate was not about the concurrent CSU referendum, many questions referred to it, specifically the Palestinian issue.
The Access slate said it would do as the student population mandates them to do, and underlined the need for activism in students’ interests. Baig said a
responsible union should take stances, but added it shouldn’t be confined to the Israeli-Palestinian issue, listing numerous other human rights concerns around
the globe.
The remaining parties tentatively agreed such activism was necessary. Lee stressed the importance of “not dividing our student population and leaving our
personal politics at the door.”
“It’s not the union’s role to take a stance on global politics. I feel the union has been hijacked by protesters,” he added.
Following lengthy debates over a politicized CSU, Sean Farrell of the Schulz Executive pointed out that the union is answerable to students and must respect
any petition brought forth. “We work for you, we’re here to work for you and do as you say.”
The Schulz Executive was challenged for their attempts to reduce bus pass fees for students. Backman and Lee drew criticism for their proposals to reduce CSU
executive salaries. Stea said this would prejudice the positions against impoverished students who have to pay their way through school. Baig was ridiculed for suggestions of privatizing more and more aspects of school to make them self-sufficient. He also didn’t have a vp finance candidate, saying he would hire someone to watch the finances properly.
The Access slate seemed the only party to get off without ridicule on any of their campaign promises.
The Loyola debate was smaller and less formal, and more direct and challenging questions were thrown at the candidates, sometimes catching them off-guard.
Points of concern raised were the lack of prayer space for Muslim students, specifically female Muslims, the future of the residences and the Hive, women’s issues, and how to make to CSU’s finances more responsible and transparent.
The candidates were even asked about their performances in last week’s presidential candidate quiz, published in the Link, which three of them failed.
Although some of the questions were extremely difficult concerning the school’s history, some were basic knowledge. Lee and Backman admitted they could have
done better, but were pleased they did well on questions pertaining to the CSU’s running.
Schulz said it was still important to know the school’s history. “If you don’t know your history, you will repeat the mistakes.”
In a moment of humour all around, Stea promoted her A- score on the quiz.
“Unless you know Concordia, the people of Concordia, I don’t understand how you feel you can understand them.”

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