Candidates take part in inaugural debate

The four candidates for the 2010-11 students’ union presidency met Sunday night to engage in a roundtable debate, responding to questions and discussing their plans and goals for the next year at Laurier.

The candidates took the opportunity to challenge each other’s ideas and opinions, falling into heated debate over what areas need to be worked on and what can be improved within the student government.

“You have to think small,” said candidate Sunny Chan about creating a platform that is attainable in one year.

The first issue the candidates faced was regarding growth. Chan spoke first, stating that growth should be focused towards Brantford, while Lawrence Maclin said that it was important to keep the small-community feel and make sure services are available to everyone.

Kory Preston supported the idea of enrolment caps to keep Laurier a small university and proposed lobbying the government to change the funding formula currently in use.

“I’m looking at the future,” said Preston.

“I want to look at fixing it for good.”

Kyle Walker responded by saying that growth is inevitable and we will have to learn how to manage it without these caps on enrolment.

“The day we start turning students away … is the day this university fails,” said Walker.

They then moved into a discussion about campus clubs at Laurier, and concerns were raised over funding. Preston argued that finances should be given based on merit, and Chan suggested a week-to-week funding format as opposed to planning a yearlong budget.

When asked about what legacy they hope to leave behind, Walker wanted to leave both campuses a better place and Chan again focused on work at Brantford. Maclin looked to school pride and supporting a whole community, while Preston presented his ideas for strike prevention in the face of another CAS contract renewal.

The candidates further discussed the idea of a strike plan, and while Preston felt it was necessary to have something in place to help protect students in the event of a strike, Walker stated he had not included a plan in his platform because a strike might not happen; both Chan and Maclin agreed with Walker’s stance on the issue.

Preston then brought up his concerns about the seizure of OneCard funds at the end of the semester and how he hopes to be able to change that, stating that it is an injustice that students’ money is being taken from them.

Despite his passion regarding this change, no other candidates demonstrated equal interest in the issue.

When asked about a lack of female representation in the students’ union, they discussed the need to raise awareness about the union among all students and that while a higher number of females could be beneficial to it, they do not see it as a negative.

“I don’t necessarily see it as a problem,” said Maclin.

Walker pointed out that current president Laura Sheridan did not run last year because she was a woman, she ran because of her ideas and her interest.

The discussion then turned to Laurier as a multi campus university. With regards to Milton, there seemed to be agreement that while it could prove to be a good venture it needs to be carefully planned and students need to be better informed.

As the debate wound down, talks turned to Brantford and the priorities there. Walker argued that a form of emergency response training would be extremely beneficial.

While Maclin expressed concern about the cost, Walker passionately fought back stating that it did not have to run like the Waterloo campus ERT and that even a few interested volunteers provided with equipment and training could be enough to save lives.

The debate was available for live viewing in the 24-hour lounge and on thecord.ca, where a recording is still available.

Kyle Armstrong, a student watching from the lounge, explained how the debate helps to show the candidates beyond their posters and platforms and provides a way to see each of their opinions.

Other students agreed, stating that while it remained professional, it was interesting to see each candidate question and challenge one another’s ideas.

“It was very interesting to see what the other candidates felt was important about the other platforms,” said Dan LaCute, a student who watched the debate live in the 24-hour lounge.

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