Student election debates review from last week
The Concordia Student Union (CSU) Executive candidate debates were held last week on both campuses to provide students with information and to answer questions about their plans should they be elected for the coming school year.
Despite their differences all three affiliations and independent parties overlapped in their desire and pledge to provide students with improved student space; an increase in communication between CSU, council and students; the uniting of campuses and student groups; and bridging the gap between academic and social functions.
Community Matters believes in connecting communities by forming strong personal relationships, supporting fee-levy groups at Concordia and by remaining transparent at all times by keeping students up-to-date and publicly showcasing their finances.
“Myself and my team have stuck to a method of personal consultations, focusing on the heads of student associations, getting to know them and what they know about the students,” explained Community Matters’ presidential candidate and current CSU VP Sustainability, Benjamin Prunty. “By building relationships with them we can understand, reach and communicate with the largest amount of students possible.”
Backing up their idea to promote transparency, Community Matters has already put their campaign budget online for all students to see.
CSUnited feels passionate about building a united Concordia and making resources easily accessible and known to students, which they believe will give a voice to students who generally do not have one.
“Representing students who are not already part of student politics, we feel we can provide the right resources and information to reach students who generally are oblivious to the CSU,” explained CSUnited presidential candidate, Jon Kim.
Experience CSU is focused on student diversity, showcasing a strong belief in student choice and difference in opinions. They want to represent a wide range of pupils and create a CSU that is relevant to a larger number of undergraduates. Much like their title suggests they want to represent student wants, needs and ideas as their own to create “your experience.”
The Experience slate does not publicly support or reject the ‘per faculty fee-levy opt out’ referendum question. Expressing that their personal opinions only count for one vote, the same as any other student, as a team, they decided to remain neutral, promising to represent whatever outcome the majority of students decide on at the ballot.
“Sure, each one of us has our own opinion on the matter. Each one of us will have our say at the ballot box, just like you. Nevertheless, we feel that as executive candidates for the CSU, it is inappropriate for us to collectively endorse a political position that will alienate a large number of students,” stated the Experience CSU affiliation in a press release sent out March 18.
Independent candidate for VP Sustainability, Michael Abbott, is majoring in ecology and has been a student at the Loyola Campus for the past four years. He has plans to move sustainable focus from short-term issues such as the use of paper to long-term issues such as a waste in energy, in addition to wanting to bridge the gap between the two campuses, he hopes to shed light on what the CSU does for the majority of students who are unaware.
Abbott explained that above all things, he’s learnt that there is a huge lack of awareness in the student body when it comes to understanding the CSU and what it is they do.
“You don’t need to vote for me, but get involved in knowing who’s governing you as a student,” said Abbott.
Independent presidential candidate Chuck Wilson explained that he is running independently because to him the main focus of the president should be to unite and mediate the team of executives. Wilson wants to make decisions based off data and concrete information, enforce collaborations amongst students and student groups and deliver important information to all Concordia students.
He stated that a vote for him would be a vote for a “united community experience.”
The question period was first open to general students, then to members of student associations and members of the current CSU government, and finally to questions from students who were not able to attend the debate and had posted their questions online.
Each question was asked to every affiliation or independent councillor, but no specific or personal questions were permitted.
With three affiliations, two independent candidates and a clear divide in student votes, current VP Loyola, Crystal Harrison, asked the candidates how they plan to overcome their differences as a mixed executive team.
On behalf of Experience CSU current VP Finance, and VP Finance candidate, Scott Carr said, “We get elected as individuals, it’s about an individual mindset and every individual should come in with an open mind.”
Presidential candidate Melissa Payette elaborated on that statement.
“We all want to commit a year of our lives to CSU and to Concordia students, on an individual basis that’s a huge commitment.”
On behalf of Community Matters, VP Student Life candidate, Charles Bourassa, explained that “the focus will be on creating common goals as a team, there is an overlap in our wants and ideas for students.”
Following up his statement, VP Sustainability candidate, Jessica Cabana said “it won’t always be easy, but I think it’s really important that we be able to learn together what we’d want to do for Concordia students.”
Independent presidential candidate Wilson reiterated his commitment to running alone explaining that his aim is “to bring the groups together as president.”
“Concordia literally means harmony, working together to achieve a greater community and I feel all the candidates have great ideas,” said CSUnited’s presidential candidate, Jon Kim.
VP Internal candidate, Simon Dansereau added to Kim’s idea by stating that “it’s about a pragmatic mindset, in the end the goal is for students to benefit, there should be no other agenda beyond benefiting students.”
Abbott explained that he was running alone and thus was willing to work with everyone.
With the voting process already started, students are encouraged to research and reach out to candidates on social media, such as Facebook fan pages or candidate websites, as well as in person.