With the Concordia Student Union elections beginning Tuesday and running until March 28, the on-campus debates held at both campuses last week gave potential executives a last-minute platform to discuss relevant issues.
During the two events, topics like student apathy, improving communication with the student body and developing student space such as the Hive Café or the recently-rebranded student centre project were discussed.
Candidates fielded questions about their platforms as well as issues they hoped to address in the upcoming year, such as the perceived disconnect between students at the John Molson School of Business and the rest of Concordia.
The lack of any functioning CSU website all year was an issue addressed by presidential candidate Melissa Kate Wheeler, who said that a new website was needed for a number of reasons.
“There’s no clear place to go for any kind of specific question that any student might have and information is kind of scattered all over at the moment,” she said. “As well, there’s the fact that it doesn’t work. So yes, I think we will have to rebuild the website from the ground up. I think it’s needed not only on an IT level but also in terms of the logical flow and division of information which needs to be examined.”
The debates also gave the two VP finance candidates, Scott Carr, with CSYou and Pierre Tardivo, who is running independently, a chance to compare their ideas for issues like getting JMSB and engineering students involved with the CSU. Carr in particular spoke of his hopes of bridging the gap between JMSB students and the CSU.
“A lot of the times JSMB [students have] no respect for the CSU,” he said. “If they see an email from the CSU they’ll delete it right out of their inbox, it’s come to that point. When I was approached to run I discussed it with my peers and they said ‘Why in the world would you want to do that to yourself Scott?’”
Despite both coming from JMSB backgrounds, the two candidates had plenty to disagree about over the course of the two debates, with the subject of Reggie’s being the most contentious issue by far.
Carr claimed that Reggie’s problems began at the top with CUSACorp’s Board of Directors, saying that the students sitting on the board had no experience running a bar and no vision for the future due to the constant turnover. Tardivo expressed an interest in extending the mandates of directors to increase the board’s institutional memory and reduce the amount of information lost during turnover periods.
On the issue of increasing profit at Reggie’s, Tardivo expressed an interest in potentially serving food there, saying that in the past when it was tried, it proved very profitable for the bar, but Carr insisted that it was not a possibility as it would infringe on the exclusivity contract the school currently has with Chartwell’s to exclusively sell food on campus.
The debates also gave the potential executives a chance to discuss long-term goals beyond their mandates. Carr and Tardivo spoke about reducing Reggie’s debt and making it profitable, respectively, while James Vaccaro, the VP internal and clubs candidate discussed expanding sustainable food options on campus. Crystal Harrison, the candidate for VP Loyola, said that she hoped to put in motion the Hive Café and that it would continue to grow after her term was up.
“I actually hope that the Hive Café extends past my mandate because I want it to be a sustainable long-term investment that lasts for many years to come,” she said. “We’re going to lay down the framework and let it keep growing from there because I think it has so much potential.”
Melissa Kate Wheeler – Presidential candidate
Caroline Bourbonnière – VP external and mobilization candidate
James Vaccaro – VP internal and clubs candidate
Katrina Caruso – VP student life candidate
Crystal Harrison – VP Loyola candidate
Gene Morrow – VP academic and advocacy candidate
Benjamin Prunty – VP sustainability candidate
Scott Carr – VP finance candidate
Pierre Tardivo – VP finance candidate