After two years of virtual programming for the WUSA Imprint Executive Debate, Imprint hosted the WUSA officers’ debate in the lower atrium of the Student Life Centre. There was only one candidate — Rory Norris — in the presidential race and one — Katie Traynor, in the VP race, so the event took the form of two separate public interviews rather than a debate. Both candidates also participated in the candidate Ask Me Anything (AMA) hosted on UW’s subreddit page, r/uwaterloo.
Norris, a biotechnology student in his 1B term, explained that he was running for president to advocate for student needs, increase transparency and communication between WUSA and students, and improve the relationship between WUSA clubs, services, and the executive team.
Norris explained that running as a first-year student would bring a fresh perspective to the WUSA executive team and increase first-year engagement with WUSA and student government. He added that he stepped up for the position when he saw no one else willing to do so, sharing his experiences in high school student government.
With a voter turnout of 4.63 per cent in 2021 and 5.09 per cent in 2022, Norris was asked how he would increase engagement with WUSA elections. He expressed that increasing communication and marketing regarding WUSA’s role in undergraduate student life towards incoming first years would gradually increase involvement. Norris hoped to engage in discussions to revitalize “empty student spaces” such as The Bombshelter Pub in collaboration with campus partners such as Catering Services. Questions regarding advocacy of student services, mental health and wellness, and advocacy for marginalized communities were met with vague answers. Norris recognized his limited experience in university student government as a first year, and emphasized his desire to learn as well as his commitment to students as WUSA president.
Vice-presidential candidate Katie Traynor is in her 2B term studying planning in the Faculty of Environment. Traynor aims to advocate for student needs on a broad spectrum and help create inclusive environments in the student community. Traynor expressed how her academic experience in planning would help her succeed as vice-president.
“We’re all about policy and regulation, as planners we plan cities and we plan futures. A part of my degree is learning how to create a positive impact on communities, engaging in them as well as creating solutions that identify new ways that improve our current way of life,” she said.
When asked about ideas to increase student engagement, Traynor responded by emphasizing the need for better WUSA marketing campaigns to reach students early in their undergraduate journey, echoing presidential candidate Rory Norris. She also suggested a cross faculty approach to increase engagement and increase collaborative events between faculties during orientation.
Her platform goals included developing the quality of post-secondary education delivery at UW, advocating for affordable student housing and increasing transparency between WUSA and the student body. When asked about her plans on delivering these goals, she explained how she wanted to be involved in revising professional development courses to address the growing needs of future employment.
Traynor referred to her previous experience working for Campus Housing as a Student Housing Administrator, where she developed her understanding of issues related to reliable student housing. In the AMA, Traynor described her experience organizing and hosting International Peer Community Housing Workshops to help international students find reliable housing, and how she hoped to extend these experiences into her role as vice-president.
Questions regarding the importance of student services, advocacy for marginalized communities, addressing student wellness and mental health were similarly met with vague answers.
“One thing I want students to take away from my campaign is that I am an advocate and leader that can consistently improve herself,” Traynor concluded.
The voting period for candidates begins Monday, February 13th and closes Wednesday February 15th at 11:59 pm. Students can vote at vote.wusa.ca. The videos of the debate will be uploaded on WUSA’s youtube channel.