The Cord’s endorsements for the 2014 student elections
Presidential endorsement: Chandler Jolliffe
There was no clear choice when The Cord’s editorial board first sat down to chat about its presidential candidate endorsement for this year’s Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union election. Gimmicks and buzzwords tend to cloud the real issues of the campaign period — and this year was no exception.
Don’t get us wrong — the Students’ Union elections are an important period for us students. We contribute a lot of money to this organization and we should obviously have a say. Each candidate had strengths and weaknesses, but it was difficult for us to pinpoint which ones mattered most for the role in question.
But eventually we did come to a decision, and that decision was Chandler Jolliffe.
With an extremely well researched platform and a clear, driven plan for the Students’ Union, Jolliffe has emerged as the strongest candidate for WLUSU’s president and CEO. It’s clear that Jolliffe has been working for a long time for this position and that he has talked to many about what is and isn’t feasible. At the presidential debate and open forums, Jolliffe was the most prepared and didn’t shy away from confronting his opponents. While he may have been brash at times, Jolliffe established his position on many topics and fought for it.
Some of Jolliffe’s strongest platform points were his emphasis on transparency and accountability as well as his focus on training for volunteers in regard to student wellness, which can have a direct impact on student experience. He also had clear visions for both the operational and advocacy aspects of the role and the organization.
Jolliffe has some solid plans for advocacy — especially the roll-over money for the OneCard from year-to-year — if he can be successful in his efforts.
However, Jolliffe has a lot to learn. While he did note that his biggest weakness might be talking to complete strangers, Jolliffe will have to overcome that and be willing to listen and learn from contrasting points and voices. He has the opportunity to become a solid leader, but Jolliffe will need to ensure that he continues to be relatable on the student-level.
Justin Tabakian definitely filled the role of the “down-to-earth and approachable” candidate. He had a genuine demeanor in his performances in the debate and open forums as well as his interactions with students on the campaign trail. Tabakian’s biggest downfall, however, was his lack of preparation and knowledge of the Students’ Union, though some of his platform points were commendable.
Sam Lambert and his team deserve praise on putting together a well-strategized marketing campaign. Although Sam was well intentioned, his platform and answers at the debate and open forum lacked substance. Sam knows the issues, but seems to skim over, rather than delve into them.
It’s true that a student should look beyond a platform when choosing a candidate, and approachability and interaction is a big part of how one should determine their choice.
However, Jolliffe’s strengths are the most applicable to the role in our eyes and his extensive knowledge of the Students’ Union and university is impossible to ignore. It’s ranked balloting this year, so vote in any order you’d like. But if you’re looking at the top spot, putting Chandler Jolliffe there is a solid choice.
WLUSU board of directors, Senate and BOG endorsements
Chair: Matt McLean
Of the two returning candidates, Matt McLean was definitely the strongest one. And with turnover that high for the 15 directors that sit on the Students’ Union board, the chair will face more challenges in terms of training and board etiquette.
McLean has been one of the more vocal members of the board and has continued to exemplify a deep passion for the board’s functions. Sitting on a number of committees, as well as spearheading the discussion around the board’s size, McLean has the skills necessary to lead the other 14 directors. It would be a mistake to not give this position to McLean.
Vice-chair: Colin Aitchison
Colin Aitchison is the only other returning director in addition to Matt McLean. And he should return, as the board can only benefit from an experienced director. While it’s still early in Aitchison’s career on the board — he’s currently only in second-year — he can act as a mentor and assist the chair in the training and development of the Students’ Union board.
If he follows McLean’s direction and continues to build on his skills as a director, Aitchison will be a vital component of next year’s board.
Director: Spencer Gibara
While Spencer Gibara may be misguided on his knowledge of what he can and cannot do if elected as a director on WLUSU’s board, his enthusiasm and willingness to hold the organization accountable on financial dealings should be noted. He can add a valuable voice next year if he keeps up that intention.
*Disclaimer: Spencer Gibara is an opinion columnist with The Cord.
Director: Salman Rana
Despite the fact that he did not attend a board meeting ahead of the election period, Salman Rana has deep roots in various organizations on campus such as AIESEC and Laurier’s Muslim Student Association. Rana performed well at the open forum and campaigned strongly, especially for a director candidate. He can definitely add an interesting perspective to the board in 2014-15.
New student senator: Sujaay Jagannathan
While Sujaay Jagannathan has a lot to learn about the role, like many of the other candidates going for senate, his enthusiasm should be commended. He reached out to those involved in Senate and expressed an eagerness to get more involved within the university.
After reading the platforms and watching the two candidates at the open forum in Waterloo, The Cord has decided to abstain from making an endorsement on this year’s student governor candidates.
These unsigned endorsements are based on a discussion that followed the Students’ Union campaign. It was agreed upon by the majority (10 in favour, 2 abstentions) of The Cord’s editorial board. The arguments made may reference any facts that have been made available through interviews, documents or other sources. The views presented do not necessarily reflect those of The Cord’s volunteers, staff or WLUSP.
Dani Saad, the CRO at WLUSU and the Opinion Editor at The Cord, did not participate or contribute to these endorsements.