Last Wednesday’s debate for the CSU elections cemented Evolution and Conscious Concordia as the two credible parties in the race. While Yavar Meshgini of The Higher Cause had some thoughtful things to say about the issues, he often appeared to be reading from a script, and had few specific proposals. Simon Reader of The A-Hole Moron Dark Wizard Force didn’t attend the debate.
Jonathan Summers of Movies of Tomorrow played the role of comic foil for the afternoon, and his tongue-in-cheek parody of a corporatist right-winger provided many memorable lines and drew lots of laughs but was clearly an attempt to draw traffic to his website, which predates his party.
The real debate went on between Mo Shuriye of Evolution and Anastasia Voutou, Conscious Concordia’s candidate for CSU president. They mostly ignored the other two parties in attendance and zeroed in on one another’s perceived weaknesses.
Shuriye talked up Evolution’s experience, saying they had proven they could do the job, and questioned whether Voutou’s slate had the organizational skills needed to run the student government.
Voutou said Conscious Concordia would fight with the administration for students’ interests, and would bring a critical analysis to the issues, with the implication that Evolution hadn’t done enough for students.
Meshgini offered his party’s outsider status as a strength. “The difference between us and the other ‘serious’ slates is that we don’t want to dominate student politics,” he said. “We just want to hang out.”
Summers said he thought the other three parties have it all wrong. “We look forward to working very closely with the administration,” he said, “and we’ll listen to them because they’re older than us and they know what’s best.”
The first issue that divided Evolution and Conscious Concordia was the CSU’s role in student clubs and associations.
Shuriye said that Evolution was different from the student unions of the past. “They either pushed Hillel or the MSA or SPHR,” he said. “Evolution has moved away from this.”
Voutou said Evolution had been slow to fund new clubs when they approached the CSU with a proposal. “I don’t think they should have to wait a year before they get any money,” she said.
Shuriye defended the waiting period, saying it forced new clubs to show that they were contributing to the school. “If they want to start a club, we’ll approve it in two days,” he said, “but they won’t see a red penny of student money until they show for a year what they’re doing for students.”
Both Evolution and Conscious Concordia also tried to make one another appear to be excluding segments of the student body. “Why don’t you have a [John Molson School of Business] student on your slate?” Shuriye asked. “They represent 20 per cent of the school.”
Voutou replied, “Why don’t you have a fine arts student on your slate?”
Then the moderator asked for the candidates’ views on the CSU’s role in the community. Voutou said that the People’s Potato used to give food to homeless people who would come up to the seventh floor, but now the homeless are stopped and “escorted” out of the building by security. “Why?” she asked.
Shuriye said it was the university’s decision, and added that there were legitimate security concerns about non-students walking around the Hall building. “What happens if someone walks in with a gun?” he asked.
This drew laughs from the audience as well as from Voutou, who said the point was absurd because Concordia doesn’t check students for weapons, and they’re no less likely to be armed.
The discussion then moved to the CSU’s role in campus sustainability initiatives, with Voutou attacking Evolution’s postering practices. “You can’t put ‘sustainability’ on your posters and then have as ridiculous a postering race as you did,” she said.
Summers chimed in with a question for Voutou. “Why does Evolution have so many more posters than you?” he asked. “Don’t you take this election seriously?”
Shuriye responded that Evolution obeyed the rules, and that the reason they had so many more posters than Conscious Concordia was that they had done a good job of planning and organizing their postering.
Mishgini said posters weren’t the real issue. “The weakness of sustainability at Concordia is that the administration isn’t implementing the recommendations that the Sustainable Concordia Project made,” he said.
The topic shifted to finances, with Shuriye saying that Evolution’s candidate for the position of VP Finance, Nadia Hissin, was a business student, whereas Conscious Concordia’s candidate, Mina Etezadi, was an arts student.
Voutou said an accounting background is unnecessary for the position. “I’ve heard that this year’s VP Finance [Lauren Teblum] has said that she uses only basic math, and doesn’t need accounting to do her job.”
Teblum was in the crowd, however, and denied ever saying it. “I’ve said that only a JMSB student could do the job,” she said. “I’ve taken two accounting classes and I couldn’t do it without an accounting background.”
This prompted Etezadi, who was also in attendance, to stand up and explain to Shuriye and the assembly that she had worked in accounting and believed she had the necessary skills and experience for the job.
The moderator then opened the debate to questions from the floor.
One student wanted to know how the candidates felt about the small turnout for the debate.
Voutou said that Evolution’s postering had created the appearance of a one-party campaign. “This race wasn’t democratic, let’s face it,” she said.
Shuriye took offense at the suggestion that his party was suppressing democracy. “4000 students came out to vote last year, compared to 800 before Evolution. That’s democracy,” he said. “People made an informed choice and chose Evolution, and they’ll do it again this year.”
Another student asked why Evolution was paying people to flyer for them.
“No one is being paid to flyer for us and if you can prove that they are, I’ll resign right now,” Shuriye responded. “I’d like to know why Conscious Concordia is using Dawson students to pass out flyers on Concordia’s campus.”
Voutou defended the flyering, saying that Ricardo Rosa, their candidate for VP student life, had many friends at Dawson. “Their student union just got accredited,” she said. “They’re very proud to be politically active and I see nothing wrong with it.”
The voting for next year’s Concordia Student Union takes place Tuesday March 29 through Thursday March 31. All undergraduate students are eligible to vote, and there are voting stations at both the Loyola and Sir George Williams campuses.