October 21 , 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 28   

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BOG hopefuls debate - minus audience

By Dan Perry
Gazette Staff

Anton Spadar/Gazette
WHY DOES JAGJIT GET THE VODKA? BOG candidates Julie Cassidy (left), Jagjit Saini (centre) and Brian Whitmore (right) debate in The Wave yesterday.

The race for the sole, vacant undergraduate seat on the Board of Governors changed tunes yesterday, as a media forum was held in The Wave; and the crickets played on.

Despite dismal attendance, three of the four BOG candidates - Julie Cassidy, Jagjit "Jag" Saini and Brian Whitmore - answered questions from TV Western, The Gazette and CHRW 94.9 FM. The fourth candidate, Jennifer Yach, was absent.

Many pressing post-secondary issues were raised, including financial aid, faculty hiring and retention and new students' preparation for the university system.

Each candidate was given a two-minute window in which to introduce themselves and was allotted one minute per response to each question, with a clarification option of 30 seconds if the question was not adequately answered after their first chance. The debate also allowed each candidate a one-minute closing remark.

The discussion centred largely around how to increase BOG's visibility on campus and the event's turnout was invoked as evidence the issue of student voter apathy is important to this campaign.

In response, Cassidy said she would largely address issues affecting students personally, like financial aid and tuition, adding a guarantee she would attend as many faculty council and University Students' Council meetings as possible and present information in the hopes of it being disseminated to students.

Saini suggested bridging the gap between students and what he called a "normally distant" BOG by attempting to get more BOG coverage in The Gazette. "We could hold open forums," he added.

Whitmore's plan to inform students included a campaign which he compared to the USC's to let people know what's going on, with BOG posters and the Web site. "While I can't give opinions [if elected], I can inform students," he said.

Many new ideas came from the forum as well, including Whitmore's proposition of a closer co-ordination between secondary schools in London and Western to ensure students have the required skills when they enter university.

Cassidy proposed a reform in BOG's presentation to the USC, in which the BOG representative would have a more independent and in-depth role when presenting information. "I think student representatives should be dispersed and not sitting on [several] committees," she said.

This was the last chance students had to see the candidates spar before the election, which takes place Oct. 22 and 23 online at www.uwo.ca.




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