Low turnout at open forum

Few students attended or tuned into the live stream of the open forum

Photo by Will Huang
Photo by Will Huang

After a snow day delayed the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union Waterloo open forum on Monday, students relocated to the Turret on Tuesday to ask the candidates their final questions before the voting period began.

However, due to the snow day, fewer students were in the audience to hear the candidates speak to their intentions for the respective positions.

“It’s unfortunate it couldn’t be in the concourse,” said Olivia Matthews, one of two presidential candidates. “I think the whole point in an open forum is to engage more people — we just saw two teams standing there and the management team. Which isn’t bad, but they’re already all informed voters. I think the open forum should be about bringing students in that didn’t know the elections were happening.”

Attendance seemed to be the concern of the day, as the majority of engagement came from alumni and members of the Students’ Union executive teams. Attendance was staggered throughout the day with the majority being members from campaign teams.

Questions allowed the presidential candidates to dig into their platforms and address any last minute concerns before voting began on Wednesday. Candidates covered issues that have been at the forefront throughout the campaign period, such as the hiring system, safety and the Union’s debt.

Both presidential candidates said they were going to use the last day of active campaigning to make last minute presentations and blitzes while encouraging students to vote.

“At the end of the day, we’ve spent the last two and a half weeks working as hard as we possibly can. There’s not much more we can do, just encourage students to vote and that’s what we intend on doing,” Matthews said.

15 out of 16 candidates for the board of directors were present Tuesday, including all four Brantford candidates. All eight acclaimed candidates were present. Only Maxwell Zibaei was not in attendance.

Individual questions from students were for both the acclaimed and non-acclaimed candidates, allowing all members the opportunity to speak to why they submitted their nomination packages either before or after the original deadline.

One candidate, Colin Aitchison, said he is seeking chair of the board and chief governance officer, while three candidates — Kanwar Brar, Nick DeSumma and Jonathan Ricci — indicated their intention to run for vice-chair of the board.

Sujaay Jagannathan, a non-acclaimed candidate for the board of directors who is seeking re-election, felt the flow of questions and dialogue for the directors was effective.

“We all had something concise to say, nothing too repetitive. We had everything divided into two groups and there were a bunch of questions asked as well, a variety of different questions from what is the role of the director to what is your vision for the Union and what experiences do you have. I think we tackled the different aspects of the role itself,” he said.

Calvin Da Silva, a non-acclaimed director candidate, said jumping into the open forum was a little intimidating for the first time.

“The only thing I can really say is I want to get my name out there and let people know that I’m willing to do the job as best as I can,” he said.

All three Senate candidates were present. Kanwar Brar, Ashley Lieu and Trevor Thompson spoke on behalf of student representation on the highest academic governing body.

Voting begins Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. online and will run until Thursday evening at 8 p.m. Results will be announced at Wilf’s Thursday night, tentatively at 11 p.m.

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