Volume 96, Issue 74
Tuesday, February 11, 2003

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Candidates come out guns a-blazing during debate forum

By Pierre Hamilton, Christopher Hodge and Kelly Marcella
Gazette Staff

University Students' Council presidential candidates slung mud and filled the room with hot air during yesterday's first-ever platform debate.

The candidates were questioned on a variety of issues in their respective platforms.

Myron Belej, a third-year civil engineering and geography student, said he felt the USC does not accurately represent the different ethnicities on campus, adding he wants to increase the council's diversity.

"My platform is about breaking down the bonds between different culture groups," he said.

"We need to get everyone working together as a team," Belej said, adding not only are educational aspects important, but so is increasing cultural programming.

Fourth-year history and political science student Cameron McAlpine said one of the issues that needs to be addressed is the English-language proficiency of professors on campus.

"This is a problem facing too many students. We have lots of teachers and [teaching assistants] and they're not all up to the standard needed by students," McAlpine said, noting that a revamping process will take a lot of time, but will be worth it in the end.

"We need more sophs to get involved and take care of students," said third-year political science student Mohamed Al Sabawi, noting faculty sophs' inability to access residences during this past Orientation Week was an important issue to be dealt with.

"The issues [students] care about aren't what the USC does behind the scenes," Al Sabawi said. "It's doing stuff that people see."

According to fourth-year King's College political science student Brook Dyson, one of his major objectives is addressing the needs of the average student, including another microwave in Centre Spot and shortening add/drop lines.

"I want to produce an opt-out form all in one place, making it easier for students," Dyson said, noting this would include the health plan, faculty donations and the dental plan, should it come into effect.

"Student activism is important," said Neil Uttamsingh, a fourth-year King's College psychology student. "Being an active and mobile student body president is important. We need to get out there and get into the community and create awareness.

"The number one objective of the president is to be the chief spokesperson of the campus," Uttamsingh said, explaining that widespread communication to all Western students was incredibly important.

In addressing the concerns of student apathy in regards to the USC, Paul Yeoman, a fourth-year political science student, said his "Living Campus Project" would address these issues by fostering a place where students can develop both an academic and social life.

Yeoman said getting feedback from students about issues was important, citing, for example, his proposed parking forum.

"This is an event for 'Joe Student' to get involved in the USC," he said, noting council should be active in providing students a place to voice their opinions.

–with files from Jordan Bell

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2002 THE GAZETTE