Thursday, March 12, saw candidates running for the board of the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) square off in the Lecture Hall of Sadleir House in a pre-election debate.
Starting off the night was the position of Vice President University & College Affairs. Candidates Kelsi Dalton and Pippa O’Brien faced questions regarding how they would improve services for students and how they would make students more aware of academic policy.
Dalton spoke to narrowing down issues and bringing them to students through social media. O’Brien, meanwhile, suggested that events should be organized around getting students out.
Both candidates also talked about their extensive experience within different factions of the TCSA, and up until the end they fed off each other’s points and seemed to agree on most issues.
The final question sparked some debate, however, when they were asked how they would reach out to the vast majority of students. O’Brien critiqued some of the TCSA’s past events and Dalton defended by saying the TCSA has been doing the things O’Brien has been suggesting.
The position of Vice President Campaigns & Equity, meanwhile, had its three candidates start off with the same sort of respectful civility.
Asgiga Corriveau, Betty Wondimu, and Hilary Stafford responded the same way to the first question and fed off each other when they were asked about the prospect of de-federating from the Canadian Federation of Students.
All three answered with a rehashed version of saying that decision is ultimately up to the student body.
The candidates were providing excellent answers to the questions asked, but it was somewhat unfortunate that similar questions regarding defederating from CFS were asked twice more by members of the audience. Only three questions were allotted for audience members.
One audience member became quite loud and impassioned while asking, but the question was still handled elegantly and professionally by all of the candidates.
Things picked up significantly during the Presidential debate with the first question asking about how each candidate would be handling the declining budget.
Jeff Campbell squared off with Brendan Edge in the first round and stressed the importance of students uniting to push back against tuition hikes.
After the second question, which was about the kind of new services the potential presidents would like to implement, Alaine Spiwak critiqued Chris Mckinnon for answering with something she argued the TCSA was already doing—that is, promoting communication between executive members.
Campbell answered that he would strengthen the TCSA as a political union, pointing towards Quebec as an example.
Spiwak also critiqued Campbell for his answer, saying he had never been a part of the TCSA and his criticisms were unjustified. Campbell rebutted that he shouldn’t have to be involved with the TCSA to know about what they’re doing.
Spiwak challenged Campbell’s point, but agreed that more outreach was necessary. Mckinnon agreed that the TCSA had been at times ineffective.
At this point, Edge had to be reminded to speak in a respectful manner for raising his voice at Campbell while claiming that Campbell didn’t understand the reality of student organizing in Quebec (the province Edge originates from).
The first half of the presidential debate was somewhat of a free-for-all and everyone was out against each other. As it proceeded, however, things calmed down and candidates started to feed off each other’s points.
Following the debate, the six students running uncontested for equity commissioner positions were given the opportunity to defend their platform against moderator and audience questions. All six performed admirably and were strong in their positions.
The last hour of the meeting saw all of the candidates come back up, answering questions from the audience and reiterating what it was they were standing for.
While things had heated up during the second round of presidential questioning, all members acted in a respectful and professional manner and civil discussion was had to try to get to the real issues.
By the end, it became clear that while the candidates were all very different with unique platforms, they did shared in a level of passion that can only bode well for the student body.
Links to candidate profiles and editorials on the election can be found here.