WLUSU election officially underway

The gloves are off.

Presidential, director, senator and governor candidates, along with their numerous supporters, gathered enthusiastically Wednesday night to officially kick off the annual Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union election at the all-candidates meeting. Laurier students, starting Thursday, will be welcomed with campaign posters and materials.

Among the four presidential candidates competing this year are Jenny Solda, Michael Onabolu, Zahra Sultani and the only Brantford candidate, Nolan Kreis.
21 candidates are running for the board of directors, with three of those being from the Brantford campus. Jon Pryce and Scott Fleming are the only ones seeking re-election from the existing board.

Jesse Finn, the chief returning officer (CRO) and overseer of the election, carefully explained to the candidates the policies and rules of the election, primarily focusing on the ethics of campaigning.

“We want a clean fair fight,” explained Finn, using a boxing analogy. “No one likes to watch a boxing match where the ref is stepping in every two seconds to break it up. We want our candidates to understand the policies and we want them to stick to it.”

“If you’re running a clean campaign, it means you’re going to be able to access the students a lot better,” he continued, adding that being libelous towards another candidate will just bring negative attention.

Last year there were a total of 18 directors running for board, and none were from the Brantford campus. As well, it was evident that more female students were running for the board as opposed to last year, where there was only one female director.

“We’ll see what happens in terms of representation this year,” continued Finn. “Three Brantford candidates [are running], which we were happy about.”

Onabolu, a fourth-year business and political science student, is anxious to start his campaign. “So generally I want to help students the way I was helped by this campus and the way I was helped by the students here at Laurier. I want to be that person for future students,” he said.

Solda felt similar. “I want to bring the focus of the student union back to the student and that can be done through communication, transparency and constantly reaching out to students.”

In a rare occasion, a second-year political science and philosophy student, Sultani, is also running in the election. “I saw many issues with WLUSU’s structure and I saw many student concerns that were not being addressed for the past two years I’ve been at this university,” she said, explaining why she decided to run.

Michael Gagliano, Seth Warren and Scott Fleming are running for board of governors. The senator candidates, who were all acclaimed, were Joseph McNinch-Pazzano, Alex Reinhart, current WLUSU president Nick Gibson, current CGO Chris Walker, Seth Warren and Ashley Dansberger.

“I think Laurier is facing a lot of challenges in the coming years and I think the senate has a big role to play in that,” said McNinch-Pazzano, noting that mental awareness is one of his main concerns.

“I’m a big supporter of a fall reading week and I want to open up that debate next year.”

Dejan Eskic, a first-year political science student, hopes to expose different issues, in particular those concerning residence life to the board, if elected.
“I feel like I’m very connected to a lot of people on residence and I know a lot of the issues that are bugging us,” said Eskic. “I would like to keep president in check too.”

For Finn, his goal is to make this election have the highest turnout ever, by having student participation reach 40 per cent. One of the main concerns, since technology has become such vital aspect of campaigning, is the use of social media.

“The big thing we’re trying to promote is that you shouldn’t be running in this election to find loopholes in our policy,” said Finn. “We’re going to be checking out the candidate’s social media sites. But to me, if candidates are going to be calling each name, that’s going to be an issue. I don’t think we need to be all caught up in all sorts of craziness and all sorts of nitpicking.”

“They need to know the policy and they need to contact us if they can’t interpret it on their own,” asserted Finn. The election campaigns will continue until the first election date on Feb. 1. Students will be able to vote the following day as well.

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