BUSU elections heat up with second round of debates

Photo credit: Zoe Archambault

Photo credit: Zoe Archambault

With election season in full-swing, the second round of debates took place in Isaac’s on February 11. Candidates spoke to their platforms and answered various questions to ensure students could make an informed vote.

The debate began with BUSU President Aidan Hibma speaking about the Ombuds levy, representing the “Yes” side of the referendum. The Ombuds Office provides services in instances such as unfair grading, academic misconduct allegations, financial appeals and unmet needs for accommodations.

Next up was the sole candidate for the two-year position on the Board of Directors, Elijah Wright.

The candidates for Vice President, Student Services took the stage: Wasim Demachkie, Christina Kerr, Peter Henen, Heidi Stricko, Aamira Patel, and David Bisong. Not present were Charmain Tulloch and Joshua Kattsir. Tulloch did attend the first debate session.

Each candidate provided a one-minute introduction, followed by the general session in which every candidate answered the same question in turn. The moderators posed personal questions to specific candidates. Following this block, each candidate concluded with a brief speech. Candidates could provide a rebuttal and a response.

The next debate session was amongst the candidates for Vice President, Finance and Administration.

The candidates present were Valentina Castano, Asad Jalib, Manahil Haider and Raadhiya Zowmi. Candidate Sebastian Legros was not present for this debate, though he did attend the previous debate.

Running for Vice President, External Affairs are Nivi Sethumadhavan, Ben Johnson and Abdul Basit, all of whom were present for the debate.

Tensions rose amongst the candidates with comments directed to one another and questions raised about competence.

Because there is only one candidate running for president since Joyce Khouzam withdrew from the race, the presidential section of the debate consisted of several questions asked directly to the sole candidate, Bilal Khan.

The debate was streamed live to the BrockTV Facebook page and can still be watched there in retrospect.

VPSS general questions:

Given the changes to the ancillary fee protocol that will be effective as of September 2019 and the likely loss of revenue this will bring the students’ union, how will you support elements of your platform that may require additional funding?

Health services on university campuses receive no direct funding from the ministry of health and this is unlikely to change. Given the impacts of a $15.4 million shortfall as a result of the 10% tuition cut, how do you propose improving mental health services on campus without increased funding?

VPFA general questions:

A major responsibility as per job description of VPFA is to generate revenues for BUSU. What prior work or volunteer experience do you have in business development that would aid in helping BUSU grow its revenues?

Only by communicating with students and gathering a large sample of data BUSU can successfully allocate costs this upcoming year to give Brock students the experience that they want. Campaign style with one-on-one conversation is not realistic throughout the year and online surveys go largely unread. What are some of the ways that you can ask students what they want to really successfully fill the position of VPFA?

VPEA general questions:

Can you please explain BUSU’s method of advocacy at the federal, provincial and municipal level and how you would prioritize between the three?

Can you walk us through how you would approach a lobbying meeting with a conservative MP in regards to ancillary fees? How would you sell the importance of student unions?

What is the biggest issue in post-secondary education and how do you plan on addressing such?

President questions:

A large part of your platform is in regards to transit. You discuss providing services such as a bike-sharing and a safe walk home program. How would these programs be implemented and what would the actual service entail?

You stated that you want to set up a fund to support the food bank program to alleviate food insecurity. What fund are you specifically talking about and what would you do to ensure this remains a priority for this organization after your years in office?

BUSU’s advocacy department is responsible for lobbying student needs to all levels of government municipally provincially and federally. The [VPEA] and advocacy department have focused traditionally on municipal and provincial politics. What role do you see yourself playing as it relates to student advocacy in part to ensure students of Brock can have their voices heard on a federal level?

Universal question:

How did you come up with your platform points? Why do you feel they are viable? Please speak to any research that you have done, people you have spoken to at BUSU/Brock, budget/resource considerations that you have factored in.

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