So, first day of campaign. We (Erica and Dongwoo) went to the Lister forum to see what the candidates had to say. We could definitely tell that all of the guys up there were passionate about student issues, be it the LHSA battle, student health, or… guns. We’ll cover each candidates point by point:
It’s the most competitive race in this election with 4 uncontested races. Let’s leave the mighty Horse with a Gun for a second and discuss the two current executives running for this position: Petros Kusmu and Saadiq Sumar.
Saadiq seems to have the support of the traditional voting blocks–Lister and Greeks. He is a dedicated Listerite, a dodgeball enthusiast, and a member of the Pi Kappa Alpha (PIKE) fraternity. To top it off, Saadiq has an impressive resume with the Students’ Union, having served as a councillor representing the Faculty of Engineering last year, and also as the current VP Student Life. It’s important to note that the VPSL tends to have the greatest exposure to the student body and so has a great advantage when running for presidency. Proof? Nick Dehod, Rory Tighe, and Colten Yamagishi all went through that route.
But Petros Kusmu is also a formidable candidate in his own way. He is just something totally different. It’s really hard to explain what it is about this guy, but everyone loves Petros. Sometimes, just saying, “it’s Petros Kusmu” will have everyone in the room nodding his or her head. In short, Petros is charming as hell and he has the support of a wide range of voters across campus (Petros is also a PIKE, but did not rush until last year). Plus, he boasts an impressive resume as a student politician. Putting his other achievements aside, 4 years of service in the Students’ Council as a councillor representing arts is an impressive record. Furthermore, he has been serving as the VP External for the Students’ Union for this academic year.
Two great candidates, with equally great influence on campus. Guys, this is the race to watch.
Anyways, the Lister Forum started at 6:00 pm and as Anthony Goertz, another candidate who is getting far less attention in this race, didn’t show up, the Horse with a Gun fired off first—and kind of literally. Horse stressed his leadership skills as a dictator and his affinity for firearms. “With your dodgeball skills and my dictatorship, this university won’t know what hit it! It will be those red dodgeball balls, NEIGH!”
Then Saadiq was up. He started off with a poignant story of a “17 years-old bright eyed-student” who arrived in 3 Henday 5 years ago. Saadiq expressed his love for Lister, his “home,” having lived there for 5 years and served as a dodgeball referee before getting into his election materials in an obvious attempt to solidify perhaps his greatest support base. He talked about this one student who could “no longer call Lister their home” due to the changes made by the university administration over summer and remarked that it “[broke] his heart to see that.” He wrapped up his short speech by promising to “continuing to fight for Lister’s students” and quickly mentioning the three themes of his campaign platform, “campus care, pride, and accessibility [affordability],” and also three parts of his platform, “Protecting Students, Health Initiatives, and Sustainability.” “Long Live the LHSA,” said Saadiq before CRO called time.
And it was Petros’ turn. He skipped the whole experience part and proceeded to address the issues at stake. Fully aware of his disadvantage as a non-Listerite, Petros attempted to frame the LHSA-administration conflict in a new manner, making it an issue for “all students,” not just for those living in Lister. He reminded students that Lister isn’t the only residence and that there are residences like HUB on campus and talked about building an “alliance with other residences” to ensure that the “university is respecting its own laws.” In doing so, Petros highlighted his advantage as a non-Listerite, “fresh face” to deal with the LHSA-administration conflict, as he is capable of demonstrating that students who are not from Lister care about it.
These short bits from the presidential candidates were focused on shoring up support from Listerites by highlighting their abilities and dedication to continue fighting the LHSA-Administration battle. A debate about “real deal” must wait until future forums.
Once question period came, Presidential candidates had a further opportunity to address specifics of their campaign. Below are some of the questions asked, with summaries of the response from each candidate.
1. There seems to be a unanimous support for the LHSA (Lister Hall Student Assocation) from both Presidential candidates. If you had to be critical of the SU’s handling of the Lister issue, what would it be?
Saadiq: Believed that the SU may have been too aggressive in it’s initial addressing of the Lister changes, which was detrimental to the SU’s negotiating position on the issue later on. Was clear however, that the LHSA has done a phenomenal job this year, and thanked all members of the LHSA for their hard work.
Petros: Believed that the tension arising from the conflicts over the summer was portrayed too much as a “Lister” issue and not enough as a student issue. Stated that he can provide a “fresh face” to champion the issue in the future, particularly because he is not from Lister, however still believes it is an important issue to pursue. He would instead seek to unify the residence community for a campus alliance that would help Lister in the future.
2. What are you doing to focus on other 30,000 students – Not just the Lister residents?
Saadiq: Will seek to empower student representatives from across campus, by providing them with the resources they need to advocate for students to the University and external bodies.
Petros: Will seek to rebuild trust with the University, and to follow up with past promises, such as the previously promised fall reading week.
3. In your opinion, why has student voter turnout been so low, and further, what will you do about this?
Petros: This seems to exist in every election, so the real question lays in how bad is it? Would like to engage students with new ideas, because voter apathy seems to arise from the same types of ideas being continually re-circulated. Believes that better fostering of leadership on campus could in turn increase new candidates in the future.
Saadiq: Seeks to connect student groups and re-institute face to face meetings. Believes apathy may lay in the lack of personal interaction. Believes voters can be engaged through active communication platforms, such as Twitter, and will engage students with a soon to come calendar of events.
Speeches from the three candidates running for the uncontested positions came up next, in the order of VP Operations and Finance, VP External, and VP Academic (articles to follow).