Representatives from Your Concordia and Action squared off last week in two presidential debates, but neither slate emerged as a clear winner from the fray. The debates, held Wednesday and Friday in the Hall building on the downtown campus, were broadcast live by CUTV and CJLO, and moderated by the Link’s news editor Christopher Curtis.
On Wednesday, presidential candidates were joined by two members of their respective slates. Your Concordia was represented by Lex Gill, VP external Chad Walcott and VP student life & sustainability Laura Glover, while team Action was fronted by Khalil Haddad, VP services & sustainability Rasim Hafiz and VP university affairs Teresa Seminara.
The Wednesday debate highlighted the major points on the slates’ respective platforms â€“ both teams spoke about taking decisive action regarding tuition hikes, demanding accountability from the board of governors, and pointing out flaws in the current student centre contract.
The slates also expressed a commitment to working with their opponents in the likely event of a split council. “At the end of the day, [no matter who] wins we need to work together,” Haddad said. “If the council is split, at the end of the day we need to conciliate our views because we need to send a strong message, whether it’s tuition or whether it’s governance. I think we’re all on the same page.”
Gill agreed, “I actually don’t have anything to rebutt, that’s a great point.”
As the floor was opened to questions, certain candidates and current members of the student union took to the mic, prompting Curtis to suggest that they refrain from asking questions. When current VP external Adrien Severyns approached the mic, Curtis mentioned that “in the interest of full disclosure,” the VP had strong ties to Action. Stephen Brown, a current councillor and candidate running with the Action slate, was in the audience and objected to that characterization, also saying that Curtis had ties to Your Concordia. The dispute carried on after the debate ended, with Brown and Curtis squabbling as a small crowd grew around them.
The format of Friday’s debate was modified to allow longer speaking time for presidential candidates, who this time around spoke alone, before VP finance candidates were briefly given the floor. Gill highlighted her plan to focus more on advocacy within the student union, calling the $195,000 spent on orientation in September irresponsible.“To me this is an issue of clear priorities,” she said. “A student union is there to advocate for students, to fight against tuition fee hikes, to advocate for the academic rights, to protect student space, to do things that enable them to continue be a student and flourishing.”