Campaigning begins with debate

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A Feds election debate, hosted by <em>Imprint</em>, marked the first official day of campaigning for hopeful executive, council, and senate candidates.


The debate races included president, vice-president internal, vice-president operations and finance, vice-president education, and senate hopefuls. Open to executive and senate candidates, the debate saw discussion about student space, Feds operated businesses, and engaging with students.


&ldquo;I firmly believe that students often look to or need that leader role to be able to step behind and support them,&rdquo; said Danielle Burt, presidential candidate on <a href="http://www.vote-spark.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Team Spark</a>, in her opening statement. Burt was the only of the three candidates not reading from a written statement.


Jesse McGinnis used his opening statement to discuss the &ldquo;three C&rsquo;s&rdquo; of <a href="http://gofornova.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Team Nova</a>&rsquo;s platform: collaboration, communication, and community.


<a href="http://voteteamgreen.com/" rel="nofollow" target="_blank">Team Green</a> presidential candidate, Moe Bdeir, spent much of his opening statement discussing his previous presidential campaign last year. McGinnis also ran for president last year.


&ldquo;Last year, I ran to change this because I believe that I can make a change. This year, I don&rsquo;t think I can change, I know we will make a change,&rdquo; said Bdeir.


A major topic of the debate was the upcoming UPASS referendum. All three candidates said they would vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; at the referendum.


&ldquo;It&rsquo;s up to the students to decide what they feel about the referendum and the bus pass itself,&rdquo; said Moe Bdeir adding, &ldquo;We definitely have to consult students before anything.&rdquo;


&nbsp; All VP education cadidates also said they would vote &ldquo;yes&rdquo; at the UPASS referendum.


&ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s a great move because it allows students to see where their fees are increasing,&rdquo; said VP education candidate Luke McIntosh about the UPASS referendum.


During his opening statement, Team Green candidate Stephane Hamade said his first priority if elected would be a fall reading week.


Renish Kamal of Team Spark said her first issue to tackle would be &ldquo;getting all the forms online.&rdquo; She mentioned the idea of &ldquo;going paperless&rdquo; several times during the debate.


Luke McIntosh&rsquo;s first project would be looking at the appeals and grievances process.


VP internal candidates answered questions regarding issues of &ldquo;cliques&rdquo; in Feds services, club culture, and how they plan to deal with pushback from the school administration.


Team Green&rsquo;s VP internal candidate Saleem Khan was unable to attend the debate due to a family emergency.


Team Nova&rsquo;s candidate, Anjali Gopal, said her main focus, if elected, would be mental health support for students, later saying that advocating for it would be her first issue to raise if elected.


Gopal raised the issues of wait times at counselling services as a mental health issue she would address.


&ldquo;Ways I would fix this is to add more counsellors or to bring in support from the community or to add peer support groups in to support our students where they need it most,&rdquo; said Gopal.


Maaz Yasin of Team Spark said during his opening statement that his focus, if elected, would be increasing club and prayer space. He later said that increasing prayer space would be the first issue he would raise if elected.&nbsp;


&ldquo;It is something that the VP internal, I believe, should be advocating for on behalf of clubs like the MSA,&rdquo; said Yasin.


When asked about their thoughts on the existing campus shuttle and introducing a WalkSafe program, something that has been discussed heavily in students&rsquo; council, both candidates said they support campus shuttle and would also investigate introducing a WalkSafe initiative. In recent years, campus shuttle has come under scrutiny from council for its high operating costs. WalkSafe has been discussed as a cost saving alternative.


Presidential candidates were all asked about their plans for addressing student space issues.


&ldquo;Basically we need to consult students, that&rsquo;s the most important thing,&rdquo; said Bdeir, he later asked if the question was about space or engaging students.


McGinnis worked closely with 2012-2013 Feds President Andrew Noble on a plan for a new student building, that plan has been stagnant since Noble left office.


Team Nova&rsquo;s platform discusses space solutions in several areas. McGinnis&rsquo; team wants to hold a vote during their year in office to determine what students want out of a new space. They also plan to renovate the SLC, which Feds gained managing control of nearly a year ago.


&ldquo;Obviously students have expressed their concerns about student space. I think it&rsquo;s now about finding those gaps where we can put students and use space more effectively,&rdquo; said Burt.


Senator-at-large candidates are Soheil Koushan, a first-year student and Chrisos Lolas, who is in his fourth year.


Lolas said he wants to increase student awareness of senate.


&ldquo;That is the highest decision-making body in terms of academics at this school and these decisions affect you in a big way. People just don&rsquo;t know that these decisions are being made or how they can get their voice to reach senate,&rdquo; said Lolas.


The debate between arts senate candidates closed the debate.


Arts senator hopeful Dayna Nelson wants to engage students over social media in order to bring relevant issues to senate. Alanna Benson said a relevant arts student issue she would like to bring to senate is the lack of student space on campus.


Candidates will come together again for a debate hosted by Feds, Feb. 5.


Watch the full debates here:&nbsp;<a href="http://uwimprint.ca/section/video" rel="nofollow">http://uwimprint.ca/section/video</a>