All-Candidates meeting kicks off WLUSU campaigns

Photo by Will Huang

Photo by Will Huang

The race has officially started for the 2015 Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union hopefuls, which kicked off with the all candidates meeting Monday night.

The meeting brought all eligible presidential, board of directors, senate and board of governor candidates together to lay down the rules for the upcoming two weeks during which they will be able to campaign and solicit for votes.

The meeting lasted 33 minutes, with the campaign period officially beginning at 11:03 p.m. It will run until Feb. 5 at 7:30 a.m., a half hour before the voting period begins.

“Honestly, we just wanted it to be quick this year and we didn’t want to hold [the candidates] for a lot of time,” said Kaipa Bharucha, assistant chief returning officer for the Students’ Union elections.

“We kind of just wanted to get it done, get the information out, make sure they’re ready and excited for the next couple of weeks.”

Candidates were surprised to learn at the beginning of the meeting that due to disqualification of intent to run forms, nine candidates for the board of directors were acclaimed.

As of Tuesday when Bharucha and chair of the board Matt McLean had completed reviewing all forms, one more candidate was disqualified. Eight have been acclaimed, but were encouraged to continue to engage in the election campaign by attending all necessary events.

“It sucks. It happened at Queen’s as well, their entire student government was acclaimed so I don’t know if it’s just lack of student engagement across campuses in Ontario,” said Colin Aitchison, who is seeking re-election to the board and is one of the acclaimed candidates.

“I’m pretty sure Matt and Kaipa put the word out as much as they could, so it kind of sucks that students don’t want to get involved as much as we do.”

“It’s a little bit disappointing … but I think this is something that we’ve got to look at for next year and see what we can do to get more people involved,” said Jonathan Ricci, who is also acclaimed.

Aitchison, Ricci, Andrew Harris, Kanwar Brar, Giovanni Giuga, Melody Parton, Nick DeSumma and Matt DeSumma are the eight acclaimed candidates. The Students’ Union has reopened nominations until Jan. 27 for the remaining four spots on the board.

“Obviously it’s a bit disappointing not to have more candidates — we expected more originally,” Bharucha said. “But things happen, it’s totally understandable. If we can still get some more students engaged in the next week, I’ll be happy with that.”

The three presidential candidate hopefuls — Frank Cirinna, Olivia Matthews and Dave Patterson — were in attendance Monday night.

Matthews stressed that after four months of planning, she will need to keep her nerves at bay during the campaign, noting that many people will be “judging a perception” of her.

“Because I’ve put so much time in, I know my nerves can sometimes get the better of me,” she said. “Honestly, it’s just surrounding yourself with supportive people around the nerves thing and getting enough sleep.”

Patterson said his passion for Laurier and initiatives on campus will help drive his campaign when it may seem like he lacks internal operations experience. He said he sees it as a “new perspective.”

“It’s exciting,” Patterson said on starting the campaign. “We’ve been working so long to get ready for this so it’s exciting to feel like we can finally get our hands dirty and get started in the actual campaign and sink our teeth into it finally.”

Cirinna said he is hoping to take a realistic approach to the campaign, explaining that “on paper, he is the most qualified candidate.”

When noting a weakness, Cirinna jokingly made reference to Matthews’ and Patterson’s involvement in Residence Life.

“I’m not a don,” he said. “The reason that’s actually a weakness, though, is because of the access to first-years. I know they have a bunch of rules in terms of how they can access first-years, but if you look at the voter turnout, first-years are a huge chunk. I think it’s around 30

to 40 per cent of the voters. So that first-year vote is key.”

Throughout the campaign, Bharucha will be advocating for students to get involved in elections, hoping to increase the voter turnout.

“[I also want to] try to ensure that we have a bit of a better rapport with the campaign teams themselves so that they’re helping support the election as a whole and not just their candidate,” she said.

*Disclaimer: Andrew Harris is the Copy Editing Manager at The Cord.

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