2015 BUSU Elections: Debate highlights

CATE TALAUE AND CODY STANFORD

spoken_sunday_debates

Debate #1: Feb. 4 – Schmon Tower

Shots were fired during the first BUSU executive elections debate on Feb. 4, broadcasted from the 13th floor of the Schmon Tower in a live stream by BrockTV.

Each candidate was given equal opportunity to make statements and present questions directed to their opposition. It was evident that some candidates came out strong, while others were seemingly overwhelmed.

Matt Campbell, Kelsey Craig, Aidan Hibma, Olivier Kayitaba and Geraldine Rieger, Board of Directors candidates for one-year and two-year terms, focused on the need for effective communication between organizations and students, advocating for issues, determination and accountability.

Vice-president, Finance and Administration (VPFA) candidates, Spencer Dawson and Stephen Tulloch, discussed their different levels of experience, with Tulloch interrogating Dawson about how he plans to implement a section of his platform when it is in violates an existing Brock University agreement.

“People with experience are needed, and things like this can’t be overlooked. I know what I’m doing because I’ve already worked with the current VPEA, I’ve worked on the Board of Directors and on BUSAC,” said Tulloch.

“A positive experience and getting involved does not only happen in BUSAC. Much of it happens by talking to students. I have the passion to have the next best BUSU and executive team,” said Dawson in his rebuttal.

Jordan Gayle, Brian Horvath, Jad Nasser, Istafa Sufi and Talia Yousef, Vice-president, Student Services (VPSS) candidates, were posed the following question by Chief Returning Officer (CRO), Jimmy Norman: “Increasing programming and expanding Frost Week was in each of your platforms, how are you going to get funding to make this happen?”

Sponsorships, partnerships and collaboration were among their responses, with Sufi directing his rebuttal towards Gayle and Horvath, “The programming fee levy that ran last year talked about sponsorship fatigue, how do you plan on getting more sponsors?”

“I won’t stop looking for sponsorships,” said Horvath, outrightly.

“I want to work with the city, which is different from working with specific sponsors,” said Gayle.

Vice-president, External Affairs (VPEA) candidates Erin Kelly, Antonio Sergi and Karam Tawfiq, focused on advocacy and improving communication between students and BUSU, as well as pushing for matters that the current VPEA is spear heading.

Kelly posed a rebuttal about programming, “Do you have any envisions for modifying how we service suicidal or at-risk students?”

“I recognize the More Feet on the Ground campaign and Distress Niagara, which offers a crisis line. I’m hoping to address it from a crisis prevention point,” said Sergi.

“I’d like to continue working with Student Health Services and the Student Justice Centre. Right now, Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR) suicide prevention training is a resource that students can access,” said Tawfiq.

Calvin Eady and Kyle Rose, who are both running for President, also discussed what they would each bring to the role, focusing on tackling the issue of student space on campus.

“We have a new pilot program this year, and that’s using the rooms that we already have. This is achieved through a booking system where students can access open seminar rooms, which is no additional cost,” said Rose.

On the topic of forging a relationship between BUSU and the Board of Trustees, Rose questioned Eady as to why he believes he is most qualified to further the conversation between these organizations, considering Rose is serving as the current VPFA and has already been involved in the matter.

“I will not stand down. I believe I will stand up no matter what the issue and I will make sure the students’ needs and interests are No. 1, rather than the administrations’ needs,” said Eady.

Looking to witness all of the action? Visit new.livestream.com/Brocktvlive for the archived video of the first debate.

Debate #2: Feb. 6 – Guernsey Market

As the BUSU election draws nearer, the candidates continue to lock horns inside the intellectual ring, debating the hot button issues that affect the future student populations at Brock University.

On Feb. 5, Guernsey Market was transformed from its usual masticatory setting to one of passionate political debate. A congregation of supporters, media representatives and interested students watched as a panel of judges posed thought-provoking questions to the awaiting candidates.

The afternoon began with the Board Of Directors one-year and two-year term candidates Campbell, Craig, Hibma, Kayitaba and Rieger. Faced with questions surrounding the importance of student voice and the challenges faced by students in the University, the candidates were able to discuss what matters most to both them and their peers.

“We work for them, because they are what brought us here. Whatever we can do to improve the students lives is the most important thing,”
said Craig.

“The biggest challenge in this university are finances. No one should have to suffer financial difficulties. My goal is better life, better BUSU and for students to be successful,” added Kayitaba.

The Presidential candidates sped through their portion of the afternoon’s activities, answering the panel’s questions quickly and succinctly, focusing heavily on the healthy food options, or lack there of, offered within the on-campus cafeterias.

The real sparks began to fly between the VPEA candidates. Kelly, Sergi and Tawfiq brought exuberance and sharpened claws to their debate. They discussed the importance of how to comprehensively engage with the Niagara region as a whole and ways to maintain Brock’s reputation as an elite, student-focused institution.

VPSS is also a competitive race, with five candidates running for the position. Gayle, Horvath, Nasser, Sufi and Yousef brought the best of what they had to offer to this debate, showing students that they had the passion, as well as forward-thinking ideas that could improve the student experience.

“People always ask me, why are you running, do you like being in the halls night after night?” said Nasser. “And the answer is yes, I love it. I enjoy every second of it.”

“What I have in mind right now is a volunteer application nomination where students are rewarded for their time on campus. I’m not offering this as an incentive, but a reward for the dedication and time that students put into their extra-curricular activities,” said Yousef.

The race for VPFA was a long and heated one, but Tulloch and Dawson maintained their professional composure during the debate.

It is important to understand that these elections are not done in vain, or for the purpose of stroking the egos of these dedicated young men and women. These elections determine who will be in positions of authority and influence around Brock, directly affecting the student experience at the University for years to come. It is in the students’ best interest to not only vote, but to fully understand what topics and platforms each candidate has.

The archived livestream video of the second debate can be accessed on new.livestream.com/Brocktvlive

Debate #3: Feb. 9 – Isaac’s Bar & Grill

The third and final debate between the BUSU executive candidates was the climactic culmination of weeks spent lobbying and promoting on the campaign trail.

As the candidates gathered in Isaac’s, where the event was held, the excited and nervous tension in the air was palpable.

The event opened with Reiger, Board of Directors two-year term candidate introducing herself and her platform points. She gave students the information they needed as she herself would not be participating in the debate due to her running unopposed in the race.

Many of the questions posed by the panel to the Board of Directors one-year term candidates revolved around the various ways in which the candidate’s proposed ideas don’t actually fit within the defined duties of the Board
of Directors.

“In all honesty, I’m exactly like you,” said Hibma. “I pay tuition, I pay for books and I’m concerned about the healthy food options that are available to students here on campus.”

As the debates wore on, the passion, intensity and borderline aggression was openly visible for all to witness. The VPSS candidates were asked the hypothetical question, “What on-campus service would you cut, and what service would you bring in?”

The cat got Horvath’s tongue, as he was forced to sit down in silence without answering the question. As the other candidates struggled to answer the same question, Yousef defiantly and steadfastly maintained that “I would do everything in my power to not cut any services”, a sentiment which greatly annoyed Sufi as the two spent considerable time attacking each other’s points of argument on the topic.

Despite a warning from the panel, Nasser seemed to have a small, but vocal support section, cheering loudly for every point he made throughout the afternoon. Horvath later regained his composure and to discuss the importance of having a greater number of microwaves available on campus for student use.

“If it takes me cleaning every microwave in the school my first year in office, then I will gladly do that for all of you,” said Horvath, highlighting his dedication to the student body.

Rose and Eady continued to duel for BUSU Presidency, discussing how they would best serve the students and the community when dealing with the hectic schedule that comes with the executive role.

“I would go out and find people, rather than staying in my office and waiting for people to come to me,” said Rose. “If you know me, then you know that I am never in my office during office hours. I am always in someone else’s office or in someone else’s meeting getting things done.”

Much of the VPEA debate between Kelly, Sergi and Tawfiq surrounded the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations (CASA) and what Brock’s inclusion in that group would mean for students and their future. The three candidates intensely interrogated each other’s platforms, with Sergi claiming that Tawfiq had said that Brock had a problem with diversity.

“I never said Brock had a diversity issue,” replied Tawfiq. “I said I wanted to educate students on diversity at Brock. Brock has great resources for students; I just want to continue the education.”

Voting for the BUSU elections will take place between Feb. 10 to 12. Students can vote at any of the stations located around campus, as well as by logging into their Brock email.

Check out the archived video of the third debate at new.livestream.com/Brocktvlive

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