Executive candidates square off in debate

Executive candidates running in the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) elections faced off against each other in a debate on Feb. 6.

Several major topics were brought up including mental health, the Sexual Violence Policy, inclusivity, diversity, and transparency.

Four out of six available executive positions are running uncontested—president, vice-president (internal), vice-president (student services), and vice-president (finance)—leading to a shorter, quieter debate compared to previous years.

Vice-president (student life)

Current CUSA vice-president (student life) Abdullah Jaber from the One Carleton slate debated against independent candidate Nadeem Fayed.

Jaber promised a Panda Week, as opposed to the three-day Panda Game celebration he introduced in his last term as vice-president. He also promised to host a “kick-off” party.

Fayed discussed issues of alcohol abuse on campus in his opening statement, adding that students cannot possibly afford to have a week-long celebration.

“We don’t want these events to come out of their tuition fees,” Fayed said. “Instead, let’s focus on subsidizing and making sure clubs are provided more incentives to create events.”

Jaber rebutted Fayed by stating: “I don’t think having fun is a bad thing.” According to him, hosting more events does not necessarily mean more expenditures, and it often means more profitability for CUSA.

Vice-president (student services)

Uncontested candidate Cassandra Ambar from the One Carleton slate took the stage after Fayed and Jaber, sharing her goals if she is elected.

Ambar, who is currently CUSA’s volunteer co-ordinator and the president of the Humanitarian Organization of Latin American Students, promised to introduce a new student discount card by working with local businesses. She also said she would create a campus-wide year-end garage sale and a peer-to-peer support program for mental health services.

“I don’t want students waiting six to eight weeks anymore [for mental health appointments on campus],” Ambar said. “That’s just unacceptable.”

Vice-president (internal)

Natalie York took the stage after her One Carleton teammate Ambar as the solo candidate for the vice-president (internal) position.

York stressed the importance of access to free graphic design services and increased storage for clubs and societies, along with immediate free printing for students on campus. CUSA currently offers free printing, but students must submit print jobs one business day in advance.

She also focused on an event she would initiate in her term, the ‘Councillor Meet-and-Greet,’ that would work to help CUSA councillors get to know their constituents, adding that more programs and faculties need to be represented on council.

“I think the biggest problem is that students don’t even know who their councillor is,” she said. “I want to work to improve on that.”

Vice-president (student issues)

After York left the stage, the crowd went wild as Lily Akagbosu from One Carleton took the floor against independent candidate Daniel Ford, who presented his opening remarks first.

“I know that in running for this position, I am also running against One Carleton,” Ford said. “But I don’t want you think I am not willing to cooperate on anything with them [if elected].”

Ford said that voting for him would ensure that students are not just having fun on campus, but would be able to get employment after graduating.

“I am more interested in directing money towards things that matter than partying and constantly having fun,” he said. “I want cheaper textbooks for you [rather] than cheaper beer at Oliver’s [Pub & Patio].”

Akagbosu agreed with Ford about making textbooks cheaper or free. She also said she would create ‘Wellness Wednesdays,’ to provide and advocate for mental health support.

In response to a question about what they would do about increasing tuition fees in their term, Ford said executive salaries could be put to other causes.

“Executives are paid about $30,000 each,” he said. “I would like to get that number all the way down, because I believe it could easily be a volunteer position.”

Akagbosu discussed ScholarPro, a CUSA program meant to help students obtain scholarships, that she had benefitted from. She said if elected, she wants to introduce a software program that matches students to scholarships they are eligible for.

In his closing remarks, Ford advocated for increasing profits at Oliver’s to focus on more important concerns than a deficit, while Akagbosu argued that the bar should be more than just a business.

“Students have formed cultures, friendships and so much there that it has become a service,” she said.

As Akagbosu and Ford ended their statements, Ford called the election a “popularity contest” with uncontested candidates.

“I want you all to remember, that voting for me means voting for students that are here to study, and not for students trying to have fun at Oliver’s and creating a gaming culture,” Ford said.  

Vice-president (finance)

Luke Taylor, One Carleton’s uncontested candidate for vice-president (finance), took the stage next.

Taylor talked about changing the way CUSA’s budget is arranged around CUSA businesses. He said he wants to make Haven Books more profitable.

“Haven remains dormant after the first three months of business in the [school] year,” he said. “I’d like to make it into a coffee shop so that students can benefit, and profit off this venture throughout the year.”

Taylor answered a question about making CUSA more transparent by aiming to host more town halls and bulking up the association’s social media presence.

President

As the sole candidate running for president, David Oladejo from One Carleton took to stage last.

“This is the most beautiful crowd of people I’ve seen at an election here in years,” he said.

In response to a question about the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), Oladejo made it clear that his aim was to defederate.

“We [collectively] pay $400,000 every year to the CFS for no reason,” he said. “My team and I have a strong stance for that reason to defederate from it.”

Oladejo said that he wants to expand Carleton’s gym to provide more fitness space for students.

“I want to build you a bigger gym,” he said.

According to Oladejo, the current CUSA executive has accomplished 80 per cent of its election promises at this point in the year. He said his team wants to accomplish 100 per cent of its promises.


Photo by Aaron Hemens