CUSA councillor debate lacks candidates, attendees

Candidates from a variety of faculties gathered in the University Centre Atrium on Feb. 6 to face off in a councillor debate ahead of the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) election. Topics in the debate included transparency, lowering tuition costs, and “swag,” but what stayed constant was seemingly a lack of enthusiasm from attendees, and an absence of debate.

While the crowd was large and energetic during the executive debate, which preceded the councillor debate, it thinned out to reveal many empty chairs when the councillor candidates took the stage. Some councillor candidates were present through the executive debate, but none of the current CUSA executives or executive candidates appeared to stay for the councillor debate.

Faculty of Public Affairs (FPA)

The FPA debate had the greatest candidate turn-out, with all candidates in attendance. But, as candidate Nicholas Drain, a first-year political science student, pointed out, there are only five candidates running for six positions.

Monica Lung, a third-year global and international studies student, promised to improve the CUSA Collaboration Fund by creating better communications networks. Lung also highlighted the mandatory cost associated with getting a doctor’s note from Health and Counselling Services—a charge she deemed a burden on student finances—and promised to fight for the notes to be free.

Drain said he wants to implement monthly town hall meetings to ensure communication between CUSA and students, and to reach out to the different communities on campus.

Jason Laguerre, a first-year global and international studies student, said he is concerned with the integration of first-year students into the university community, and agreed with the other candidates on most issues.

This caused a stir between the candidates, as Drain rebuked, “you can’t agree with everything we all say.” However, Laguerre and other candidates continued to support each other with positive feedback during rebuttal periods.

Omar Alami, a second-year public affairs and policy management student, promised bi-monthly tabling to promote the integration of FPA, a faculty formal, bar nights, and additional library hours.

Madison Ranta, a third-year journalism student, said she would keep CUSA accessible and transparent by live-tweeting each council meeting and posting the minutes publicly within 24 hours of each meeting.

Faculty of Science (FS)

While the FS has seven candidates running for four spots on council, only one candidate attended the debate.

Richard Ositashvili, a second-year computer science student, addressed the small crowd by himself. Ositashvili said his main goals if elected as councillor are increasing laboratory and research space, and improving co-op placements and career services for science students.

He explained that these two points are the main issues plaguing students in the Faculty of Science, and said other than that, he “didn’t have much to say.”

Faculty of Engineering and Design (FED)

In this faculty, eight candidates are fighting for six council seats. Ahmed Abdalla, a second-year engineering and physics student, and Tiffany Wiebe, an interactive multimedia design student, were the only FED candidates who attended the debate.

The first question for the candidates was to describe the biggest issue facing their faculty.

Abdalla presented two problems: high tuition costs, and what he called a failure of CUSA to accurately represent Engineering and Design students.

Wiebe agreed with her opposition’s claims.

She added that as a design student, she hopes to represent her part of the faculty that often gets overshadowed by engineering students.

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences (FASS)

The race for seats for FASS is thinnest, with two candidates running to fill six spots.

According to George Owusu-Mensah, a second-year international student from Ghana studying economics and the only FASS candidate at the debate, what students want most is free-flowing information and transparency from the top-down.

Owusu-Mensah promised a mentorship program, and identified the most important issue facing FASS as its lack of program-specific “swag,” such as hoodies and t-shirts.

“When you look good as a unit, it helps you think better,” he said.

Faculty of Business (FB)

Neither of the two candidates running for the two business councillor seats participated in the debate.