Candidates face-off in annual online debate

The four 2012-13 Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union (WLUSU) presidential candidates went head-to-head Sunday night, as The Cord hosted its annual online presidential candidate debate.

Mike Onabolu, Jenny Solda, Zahra Sultani as well as Nolan Kreis – though he had to attend via Skype – discussed the crucial issues that they believed affected the Laurier student body.

Moderated by Katie Flood, the Life Managing Editor at The Cord, the debate included numerous issues that have arisen with WLUSU in the past year, such as the O-Week/Fall reading week controversy, student mental health and the on-going situation with Brantford.

But more common issues such as communication, transparency and study space were also on the table.

The fall-reading break situation, which would have resulted in classes beginning on the Thursday rather the following Monday during O-Week, was the first contentious issue discussed by the candidates. All four candidates had passionate answers for each point that was brought up regarding the situation.

“I think this is a contentious issue because it involves change,” said Onabolu. “Having this conversation with students is crucial.”

“The problem that lied with the issue going forward to senate was the lack of communication [with students],” said Solda. “I tried to reach out for student input, because students were not made aware of these plans, and they were not consulted at all.”

While it was evident that communication with the student body was the main point of concern for all of the candidates, Sultani took the opportunity to address Solda’s opposition to the fall reading break when the situation arose last October.

“I thought it was a good idea,” explained Sultani. “I did hear and have conversations with some directors that because of Ms. Solda was the head icebreaker, that she strongly opposed having fall reading days.”

Solda asserted that O-Week would be re-evaluated. “I love orientation week, but I know it’s not perfect,” she said.

The candidates also questioned their opponents about the amount of research they were conducting, obviously suspicious about how knowledgeable they were on a specific subject.

With the restructure of WLUSU’s multi-campus governance policy, many Brantford students felt abandoned during the decision making process. Kreis, the only candidate from the Brantford campus, expressed his dissatisfaction with the new structure.

“While I do believe in a multi-campus governance, I do disagree with the new structure. I think it was a little bit naïve to approve a set of the new structure before second half of it could even completed yet,” explained Kreis.

Unfortunately, due to technical difficulties and time constraints, only one of the student-submitted questions were asked. More student issues will be discussed at the Waterloo campus open forum on Tuesday, the day before voting begins.

The open forum runs between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the Concourse. It will also be streamed live on

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