Volume 96, Issue 77
Friday, February 14, 2003

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Candidates debate platforms, eye prize

By Anthony Lafratta, Tom Podsiadlo, Paolo Zinatelli
Gazette Staff

The University Community Centre was filled with some mud yesterday – and thrown in for good measure was some lively debate.

Another debate was held for the six University Students' Council presidential hopefuls, in an attempt to get their messages out to students.

Mohamed Al Sabawi, a third-year political science student, said he would like to see a new initiative undertaken that would involve second and third-year students who may feel forgotten by the USC. "It's like an [Orientation] Week for second and third-year students," he said.

"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Al Sabawi said later in the debate, in response to a member of the audience who stated experience is required when running for a USC position.

"I'm not really sure the Registrar lineups can be fixed," said Cameron McAlpine, a fourth-year history and political science student, adding he would like to see volunteer staff used in order to shorten lines in the UCC for such things as picking up bus passes and Westernizers.

McAlpine said he would also like to see a counselling centre for students applying to graduate programs, so they have one place to go with all their questions.

"We really need to get away from the mentality that the USC knows best," said Brook Dyson, a fourth-year political science student at King's College. "The students at large should get involved by taking the initiative."

It is not the USC's place to dictate to the students. "[It is] to listen to the students and what they want."

Paul Yeoman, a fourth-year political science student, endorsed the idea of a Living Campus Project. "[It would be] a council based initiative to increase awareness and education on important student matters, such as campus safety and address the issue of campus spirit at varsity sports," he said. "It's council working together and developing these initiatives."

Third-year engineering and geography student Myron Belej continued to press his platform for a more diversified USC. "All students should be encouraged to try out for various positions," Belej said, referring to cultural groups lacking information about USC operations.

When questioned about acting as a representative for visible minorities on campus, Belej noted his extensive experience and membership with Western's cultural and religious groups gave him "the right to speak on behalf of [the needs of] cultural and religious groups to a greater degree than any of the other candidates."

Neil Uttamsingh, a fourth-year King's College psychology student, raised concerns over the double cohort.

"We need to assure that off-campus first-years have good relations with off-campus dons and make sure they're involved," Uttamsingh said, when told that one in six first-year students next year will not be in residence.

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2002 THE GAZETTE