Live blog: Open Forum Updates

The Cord will be making quick updates on the open forum throughout the day. The open forum will begin at 10 a.m. and will finish around 3 p.m. Note: Based on the nature of the open forum, some things may be missed in this blog. 

9:45 – According to WLUSU CRO, Sean Madden, first-year Brantford director candidate, Nicole Gamsyager, has dropped out of the election. There are now 18 director candidates.

10:17 –  The Open Forum has begun. Board of governor candidates are first up to speak. Frank Cirinna opened it up with a prepared spoken word/poem. Scott Fleming was the other candidate.

10:21 –  Candidates are asked: “What do you hope to accomplish within the first 100 days if elected.” Fleming says, “I don’t see it as a role making big changes, it’s not a job,” adding that he would like to see more student involvement. Cirinna reiterates the similar response.

10:24 – Student senator-elect, Luke Dotto asks how the candidates will advocate on behalf of students for study space in new buildings.

10:26 – Fleming says that he will encourage librarians to clean up desks at the library to free up study space. Idea is from UW.

10:30 – And the board of governors segment is done. Candidates made the closing statements and were now onto the senator candidates.

Luke Dotto, an acclaimed candidate for the senate, says it is “shameful” that none of the other candidates showed. They are also all acclaimed. Courtney Yole, a director-candidate, asked how Dotto will ensure both campuses will be represented. Dotto responded by saying, “I can’t ensure that, but I will ensure that all students are represented.” Interesting answer — removing the multi-campus aspect from the question, focusing on all students instead.

Dotto ended his segment by saying: “Run for senate next year.” He is clearly disappointed in the level of involvement by the student body this year in academic-related issues.

10:50  – Referendum questions: 

1) If 5 per cent of students wish to pose a referendum questions, if they put it request it will go to the AGM or special general meeting for WLUSU. The wording of the question will be approved by the board of directors. Allow students to gain more access.

2) Casselman begins by sarcastically applauding all those watching the open forum. He describes his two questions that will  seek to change the director ballots for WLUSU elections to “single transferrable votes” and “ranked balloting” for mult-member candidates and presidential candidates.

Casselman asserts: ” You can’t put a price on elections.” Really advocating for a more “democratic” system. Cirinna asks, “this system doesn’t work for students are not well informed on student elections. Will this new system be more accurate?” Casselman responded by saying that students don’t have to preference all of the candidates, they can only do one if they think only one candidate is qualified.

Fleming questions Casselman’s use of the word “democratic” is the Students’ Union is a “corporate” entity. Casselman responds by saying that all elections need to be fair and that this “increases the legitimacy of the outcome.”

11:40 – Director Candidates: 

All the director candidates are here except for April Qu. Even all the Brantford candidates are here. All of them are giving the opening statements. Various themes such as advocacy, transparency and accessibility seem to be popular.

Dotto asks a question about non-returning candidates about their views on IPRM, the new resourcing model for the university. Kates the first to answer, says it’s a “daunting” task. He asserts that the university needs to have clear direction. Ledwidge gave an answer but it was barely audible.

Some of the directors have answered the question very similarly. Sound bytes such as “this is very important,” and “allocating resources” were the most common.

The next question came from an internet user and it asked the candidates what the favourite “end” policy of the Students’ Union. Fleming answered the question by saying there should be no “favourite end,” since the job of the directors is to advocate on behalf of all of them.

Chandler Jolliffe, former Foot Patrol coordinator and active voice in these elections, asked the non-returning directors what the role of the director is. Cites the “EL2B” policy. Every director candidate, once again, answered the question similarly again. Kates seemed to answer it somewhat more thoughtfully by noting that the role of the director is to hold the president and CEO accountable.

12:19 – Candidate April Qu has arrived.

12:20 – Epstein was asked what he would do differently if he was elected as chair of the WLUSU board. Said that the interpretations of the ends policy need to be done at the beginning of the year with the budget (it was the ELs that were done too early), the training of the board has to be strictly enforced and that in-camera sessions should only be used in meetings when absolutely necessary.

Frank Cirinna asks all director candidates what they will be doing if they were not elected.

Next question, asked how many director candidates were familiar with Robert’s Rules. Six or Seven said they were not but are willing to learn them.

12:40 – A question from presidential candidate Chris Walker, which is directed on all candidates: “What was one thing that the board did well this year?” The returning directors will answer based on what they’re proud of. Kates said “breakfast with the BOD” and the FixMyLaurier initiative  Epstein said the collective collaboration of the board. Aitchison said the Hawk Talks. Fleming said the metrics the board have taken to analyze WLUSU’s growth.

Yu said the he was fan of the “board connect.” A couple of them had answers based on study base. Qu, a first-year, said orientation week presentations about Mental Health was effective. Stevenson, a returning director, said the projects completed by the ownership linkage committee. Casselman says the platform of financial accountability that the board employed this year — a rather enthusiastic response.

12:53 – Question: How many of they first-time candidates have attended a board meeting before? It was half-and-half in the response, too quick to count.

Closing statements for the director candidates.

1:10- Presidential candidates: 

Each of the candidates are giving their opening speeches, highlighting points in their platforms.

First question

1) Where do you see WLU in 10 years and how do you see WLUSU contributing to that:

Jennifer: Sees it as a leader of innovative ideas, and WLUSU as a key member in getting there.

Chris: Noted financial situations and mental health issues, talks about Brantford campus. He wants WLU to maintain high-quality academic and student experience at Laurier.

Dani: It comes down to student experience, WLU can’t be “over-confident” when it comes to recruiting students. The increase of students at WLU will have the biggest impact on Laurier.

Caleb: Sees the communication between the students’ union and the student will make services and student experience more effective.

Annie: Throws a “golden hawk” line, wants WLU to be a leader in Canada. Hopes WLU has a large sense of opportunity for students.

1:35 p.m.  – Question 2: How many committees are on WLUSU?

Annie: 28 or 29, or 30, Caleb: 35, Dani: 25-30, Chris: 22, Jennifer:  28

The answer is 28.

Question 3: What will you do to increase transparency in WLUSU?

All of them cite ways in which they will try and communicate with the student body more effectively. Chris and Jennifer have noted more intimate settings, Annie wants to open up communication lines through campus. Caleb though Facebook and social media. Dani had the boldest idea: physically moving the president’s office.

Another question: How many VPs have you met with?

Caleb said he hasn’t met with any, but will soon. Jennifer said she met with all of them except the VP: campus experience, and she hopes to talk to him. Annie said she has talked to the VP: campus experience, and an AVP from Brantford, but acknowledges she hasn’t met with others. Also noted she has briefly talked to Chris Walker, who is also VP: UA. Chris, since he is VP: UA, has worked with all the VPs in WLUSU, noted he has collaborated with them. Dani said he hasn’t met with a AVP from Brantford, but has met with a few of the VPs at WLUSU, namely the VP: finance.

Question: What do you know about the Student Life Line? Will you continue it?

Chris thinks it is a valuable service because it aids mental health issues. Annie, as a don, says she has promoted the life line to her students — will continue the service. Jennifer notes she was part of the board when the service was added, she believes it’s a good service to continue. Caleb gives a shout-out to Kyle Walker, who set it up. He wants to increase the exposure of the program. Dani noted that there needs to be a service that can be used after-hours when a don, for example, is not available.

Question: What will be your biggest obstacle?

Caleb said it would to make sure the union is more transparent. He said he’ll make an effort to make it more open. Jennifer acknowledges her biggest obstacle will be the fact she’s from Brantford, but she doesn’t see as a hindrance. Annie said she’ll have to learn a lot about union, but cites her don experience as a way to overcome that. Chris highlighted the financial situation of WLUSU, to overcome by looking for external revenue streams, look at the WLUSU business. Dani admits that he’ll have to learn a lot about the union, his obstacle is the getting the union to engage in “real” issues.

2:15 p.m. — President Onabolu is asking each candidate a specific question based on their platforms.

Question: Chandler Jolliffe asks about the revenue lost from Wilf’s, which was approximately $150,000.

Dani said he doesn’t have a concrete way to reach a solution, but to look payroll, staff numbers etc. Caleb said he will have a conversation with Chandler. Jennifer said there was no quick way to find a solution. Annie said that Wilf’s could be more effective through resource allocation and to look at inefficiencies. Chris said much of the loss was because of the summer months when there wasn’t a high demand period, talks about shortening hours in the summer months.

*Sorry for the missed questions, follow our Twitter feed to catch up. 

Question from the audience: What are you going to do about class sizes, academic issues, tuition fees etc.

Jennifer talks about the president as a role in advocacy, will continue to advocate, but said she can’t personally make those changes. Caleb said he would go straight to the president of WLU to discuss these issues. Dani says he met with administration staff, states that they “do care.” He notes that the union has to listen to the student body more. Chris cites his experience as VP: UA, advocated a tuition freeze with MP Milloy during Local Advocacy week, talks about a peer-support model for teaching etc. Annie says the union’s representative voice in the Students’ Union needs to grow.

Question: For Chris: How will you plan to execute your platform?

Chris: wants one-on-one engagement with the  students who  have concerns, will set up surveys, says “it easy to execute.”

Dani responds responds by saying that the surveys have to be asking the right questions.

Question: President of the GSA — What are your plans in collaborating with the GSA?

Dani said that it would effective to bridge that gap between the graduate students and the undergraduates. Chris wants to find areas of common interest so they could work together, and expanding services for both students. Annie said that it would be good to engage the GSA for students to increase options. Jennifer said it’s a “perfect opportunity to expand in other ways.” Caleb wants to see an exchange in services between WLUSU and GSA.

Question: Isn’t it the job of the union to demand changes instead of just putting this on your resume to further your career?

Chris notes that they are service providers and business owners, but asserts the advocacy is key — data-based approach. Annie says she’ll take the steps to understand the needs of students. Jennifer wants to provide students with more skills through the union, advocacy. Caleb says he hates the word “resume,” and is doing this to offer a good service and reach the people who don’t vote in the WLUSU elections. Dani said he wants to give back to the campus, and is opening up to one-on-one engagement.

2:55 p.m. – Final comments from the presidential candidates.


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