For many students, the Myer Horowitz Forum is an excuse to grab lunch while classes are cancelled (if your professor was nice enough to actually follow the rules). However, for the hundred or so students that filled up SUB’s theatre, it was an hour or so of politicking in what is probably the most important event of election week.
Each candidate was provided with time for an opening statement, followed by the opportunity to question the other candidates, as well as questions from the audience.
Much of what the candidates said in their opening statement has already been covered ad nauseam, so it would be repetitive to outline it here. Here are a few highlights:
Candidates for Vice President-Student Life William Lau and Kevin Smith (who was not in attendance and represented by a proxy) were most concerned with student engagement, a perennial topic during the SU elections. Smith’s campaign supports the idea of a street team, to engage students on the ground. Lau believes that social media is the key. The “Break the Record” dodge ball game was supported by Lau, who asserted that it would happen no matter who was elected.
In the past few years, all of the VPSLs have gone on to run for, and win, the SU presidency. When asked if they would do so next year, both Smith and Lau made it clear that they wouldn’t, as Lau is planning on pursuing his Master’s in Public Health and Smith will be focused on his professional degree (he was not present as he was away for his student teaching).
Dustin Chelen received a resounding applause for explaining why he wants to do what he wants to do, rather than just what he wants to do. Chelen is clearly very passionate about the university and its students, and will no doubt continue to bring that passion to the VPA portfolio again next year.
As far as the Presidential race, the outstanding performance went to Horse with a Gun, perhaps the best joke candidate in recent memory. From quoting the Book of Revelation, merging continents in Pangaea, and using oneCards to torture the SU were among my favourites.
Petros Kusmu and Saadiq Sumar were articulate and charismatic, and each would undoubtedly make a good President. The most interesting exchange was on accountability, as Sumar noted his record of keeping promises (and bringing us the popular puppy rooms), while Kusmu’s term as VP External has not delivered the same results, although it is not necessarily his fault. Kusmu pointed to his highly detailed platform and promises.
Overall, the forum was rather uneventful, exacerbated by a lack of competition in multiple races. It was filled with buzzwords, old promises, and the annual attempt to ‘engage’ students. While it’s not the candidates’ fault, it’s hard to take such pledges seriously when more than half of the Myer Horowitz is empty. To this cynical watcher, it seemed like more of the same, insular SU politics that only interests a very small portion of the student body. I wouldn’t be surprising if turnout dropped below 20% with the lack of interest in a campaign filled with foregone conclusions.
No matter who is elected on Thursday, the SU will be in good hands – and the university community will continue to remain blissfully unaware of what happens on the upper floors of SUB.
The Myer Horowitz Forum, and all other official UASU Election forums, can be viewed here.
Graeme Archibald is a fourth-year Political Science student who remains as cynical as ever about student politics.