February 5, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 70  

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Council grills candidates

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

Last night’s University Students’ Council meeting in the University Community Centre atrium, gave council the opportunity to quiz presidential candidates.

Fifth-year engineering student Steve Learmonth began the forum with a decisive statement: “I know what you guys want, so let’s cut the crap and get to the questions.”

“I’m running because of all the experience I have; I want students to benefit from my experience, I want to advocate on behalf of students,” said fourth-year sociology student Kathy Robineau, adding she intends to get more job opportunities for graduates.

“I’m here to say it is feasible,” said third-year political science student Patrick Harris, of his plan to lobby the government to lower the age of majority to 18. He cited the possibility of a tiered social system, dividing younger and older students as an incentive to seek this change from the government.

“My five stars have weight behind them: I’ve done my research,” said fourth-year biology and geology student Nick Staubitz, explaining that his platform was backed by months of research. “I’ve talked to as many people as I can and read as many books as I can without failing out of school.”

Dave Ford, the USC’s VP-education, asked the candidates to cite one thing from Monday’s federal throne speech that concerns post-secondary education.

“I’m not going to lie to you: I was out campaigning and I haven’t read the papers,” Harris said, admitting he could not answer the question. He added that his experience lobbying governments will greatly assist the USC’s education portfolio.

When asked what they would do in a ‘hypothetical’ situation regarding Middle East tensions on campus, third-year history and French student Dave Molenhuis pointed out it was important to ask: “Why is there hate on campus?”

Staubitz said that he would advocate a proactive approach to such tensions, adding the role of the USC would be as a mediator.

The candidates were also asked what role, if any, partisan politics should have for a USC president. “I think that regardless, people’s platforms and decisions will be slightly shifted based on [their partisan affiliations],” Learmonth said.

“A president has to have a full awareness of what students’ rights are, but the president has to find a balance between students’ interests and what is in fact feasible,” Molenhuis said when asked how he would balance the roles of representing students and leading the USC corporation.

“It is important that we make sure [administration] is not taking money from the quality assurance fund. I know they were thinking of that,” Robineau said, when asked where funding would come from to finance the upcoming tuition freeze.

—with files from Jonathan Yazer, Sarvenaz Kermanshahi, Angela Marie Denstedt and
Lauren Klostermann.



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