Candidates address pressing issues in presidential debate

(Photo by Heather Davidson)
(Photo by Heather Davidson)

Candidates had the chance to oppose each other’s platforms and students had the chance to get their questions answered at the Students’ Union presidential debate that was live streamed on Wednesday night.

Frank Cirinna, Olivia Matthews and Dave Patterson — the presidential hopefuls in this year’s Students’ Union election — were all in attendance at the event, which took place in the Union’s board room and was hosted by The Cord. The majority of questions asked were contributed by students.

One of the first topics discussed was regarding possible issues the current Students’ Union could be overlooking.

Patterson and Matthews agreed that being transparent about the use of students’ money within the Union was a big issue.

Cirinna, however, argued that the biggest issue was turnover.

“Turnover is always an issue, making sure we have the most experienced people in the right positions so we can get a running start and be as effective as possible starting from day one,” said Cirinna.

The biggest topic surrounded the issue of safety on both Waterloo and Brantford campuses.

Patterson said his platform believed in the need for 24-hour Special Constable Services in Brantford and ensuring the Waterloo campus has a strong partnership with the City.

“I think our campus itself is fairly safe, but to make sure our students walking home late at night are able to access services like Foot Patrol,” said Patterson.

Dani Saad, president of Student Publications and moderator of the debate, then asked the candidates if Foot Patrol, which the candidates considered to be an underfunded service, is a priority.

Cirinna said once they can reallocate money not being used from other Laurier services, such as money given to the resource management project and student leadership centre they could better fund Foot Patrol.

“We could save a lot of costs by not reallocating funds back into other forms of [professionl development and training] and instead utilize the SLC, which we already use and the money that would’ve have gone to PD and T we can then put into Foot Patrol,” said Cirinna.

Matthews responded to Cirinna’s comments, defending the research management project.

“We do have to find a way to get that money, I don’t think students want to hear ‘we’re paying more to the Union’, so that’s why I think the research management project is great,” said Matthews.

Patterson agreed with Matthews.

“I think our first priority needs to be increasing the use that these services get before we can justify spending more funds on them,” he said.

Cirinna also brought up his idea to get rid of STARR, an application used at Laurier to hire volunteers based on scenario-based questions.

“We should not have to skew the hiring system to hire the best people,” said Cirinna.

Matthews argued that there are benefits to the system.

“STARR is a real world hiring practice based on behavioural and situational questions,” she said.

At the end of the night, all candidates agreed the debate went well. Matthews explained she was disappointed the debate — which lasted an hour and a half — ran for such a short time.

“It’s unfortunate there’s so many student issues not focused on and it’s hard when it’s other people determining what you’re talking about,” said Matthews.

Patterson said it was good to discuss issues the candidates are focused on.

“It was really great to discuss issues that we’re passionate about for all Laurier students, not just specific to your role,” he said.

Cirinna said he may have gone too far listing off so many issues in the platforms of Matthews and Patterson, and pointed out another change he would have made.

“I would have preferred to have sit in Dave’s spot because all I could think of in this chair was, ‘can people see both suspenders?’”

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