The St. James Kings Lounge became the scene of a lively debate between candidates for the Student Association’s executive
The Student Association (SA) held a debate on March 19, giving the candidates a chance to speak out on what they hope to bring to the table if elected to next year’s board of directors.
It was a typical day in the St. James Kings Lounge. Students were hanging out, grabbing food and engaging in fun activities – but where was the support for hopeful executive candidates who will soon be making decisions on the behalf of George Brown College (GBC) students?
Beginning with an introduction from the SA’s chief returner officer (CRO), Ewa Cichewicz, executive positions were chosen at random and candidates took the stage to introduce both themselves and their platforms. The audience was then able to ask questions regarding the position and what makes them qualified.
The director of communications and internal candidates were first to take the stage.
ACT Now!’s Gagan Deep’s experience showed over opponent Alex Stewart from Student Voice, although both candidates came prepared and appeared eager to make a difference over the next school year.
When asked about the board’s lack of accountability measures, Deep, who had previously voted against a motion that would have seen accountability measures added to the SA’s bylaws, says that it would pass this year if he was elected.
Stewart, who has never been on the board of directors, emphasized the importance of being held accountable. He ensured that if elected, all board members including himself would be accountable for the decisions and actions made.
Next up were the candidates for director of campus life, who scratched the surface on the potential that the position holds.
When it came to potential events, Marriepossia Tang-Higgins from Student Voice was the only candidate to mention the restrictions at Waterfront campus, which does not have cork boards for posters. Tang-Higgins says she would work towards changing this so students at Waterfront would be better informed of SA events.
“Maybe they don’t market it well enough or plan it well enough, but I really don’t know anyone at Casa Loma that goes to these events,” said J.D Fader, a civil engineering student at Casa Loma campus. Many SA events take place at St. James campus.
Rachel Grace from ACT Now! emphasized to students that if elected, students can be sure to see a team effort between herself and the students to make sure all demographics are reached out to.
“Everyone is appealing to our events, and that everyone wants to come out because they know their time is not going to be wasted,” says Grace.
“Realistic goals are important, but a small something is better than a big nothing,” said Fader, speaking on the unrealistic hopes of having everyone come out to each event.
While reaching a campus with over 24,000 students can prove to be difficult, independent candidate Lemar Holmes believes it’s about using the right SA resources. Holmes says using resources such as the event squad, available space, social media and working collaboratively with students, he can find an effective way of bringing in more participants to events.
When the candidates for director of education took the stage, Jatinder Maan from ACT Now! and Masini McDermott from Student Voice spoke on academics and what they believed should be changed to benefit all students.
“Everyone needs a fair chance to do well and graduate, I want to make sure that these services are part of our campaigns at every campus,” says McDermott, ensuring that she will help students with learning disabilities become aware of the services available to them.
Maan emphasized the academic appeals policy saying, “we already have a great policy in place, all we need to do is make sure it’s marketed properly so the students know where to come when they have any sort of trouble with their grades.”
When asked about what they would do to bring multiculturalism to the SA, Maan talked about his experience as an international student and organizing Desi Night, saying he helped bring Sikh Awareness Month to GBC for the first time in April.
McDermott began to challenge Maan, saying “just because you were born in a different country and can tell us about one religion, doesn’t mean you can tell us about every religion like Catholic people, Christian people, Jewish people, Muslim people…,” drawing boos and shouts from audience, who were predominantly ACT Now! candidates. She was soon cut off by the CRO, who said it was beginning to become personal.
Two of the three candidates for director of operations took the stage next. Danial Ali, who withdrew from the race today, was short of words and left a lot of room for Thomas Hadwen from ACT Now! to speak on his two years of experience on the SA’s board of directors, dominating the conversation.
When asked how the candidates would ensure that students reap the benefits of their values and contributions, Hadwen stressed wanting to change the SA and the current programming. He hopes to provide new programs that reach out to students who don’t feel represented at the college, and who see their money going to events they don’t feel welcome at.
The final candidates to take the stage were those for equity. Experience and understanding of the role showed when Jaycel Murphy from ACT Now! overpowered indpendent candidate Love Kumar Maheswari.
“One of the first goals that I intend on enacting, almost immediately, is getting started on our mental health awareness week,” says Murphy, stressing the importance of having the SA show that they care about student mental health.
Director of campus life candidate Andrew Murrell, director of equity candidate Samantha Brown and director of operations candidate Brittney Andrade did not attend the debate.