February 11, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 73  

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Candidates grilled by campus media

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

The University Community Centre atrium hosted a forum yesterday allowing campus media to ask questions of the University Students’ Council presidential candidates.

Dave Molenhuis, a third-year history and French student, began by addressing the poster sale. “Is this how we want to overcome student apathy? We need to prioritize in the UCC — it’s a community centre, not a corporate centre.”

“I don’t think a candidate’s gender comes into play,” said fourth-year sociology student Kathy Robineau when asked if she expects to attract special attention from female voters because she is the only female candidate. “I encourage everyone to look at candidates and make an educated choice, rather than choosing someone because of their gender.”

Steve Learmonth, a fifth-year engineering student, expressed the need to better publicize Western’s commitment that no qualified student would be turned away because of financial need, when asked how he would be a voice for those who cannot afford university.

When asked if his plan to lobby the provincial government to lower the age of majority would promote irresponsible drinking, third-year political science student Patrick Harris said his policy would have the opposite effect. “[Lowering the drinking age] would be putting students in an environment that is safe and monitored,” he said.

“The poster battle really has not been a pretty sight, it’s not something the USC can run away from. We have to start celebrating the cultural issues and aspects,” said fourth-year biology and geology student Nick Staubitz when asked about tensions regarding the Middle East on campus this year.

“This situation isn’t going to be solved over here. I invite open debate, but we have to make sure this university doesn’t promote hate,” Molenhuis said.

“We have to make sure what happens at Western doesn’t mirror what happened at Concordia University,” Harris said.

Staubitz said it is important that the USC set down fair rules and apply them equally to all clubs.
“I will work on developing a broad-based appeal to students as opposed to having a dozen lackeys in campaign T-shirts cheering after everything I say,” Learmonth said in reference to the small amount he has spent on his campaign so far.

When asked about spending, Harris said the USC has been wise so far and he was not looking at cutbacks.
“We shouldn’t be looking at cutting services. We should be looking at ways to expand services. That way we can encourage fiscal responsibility and growth on campus,” Molenhuis said.

When asked where the USC could cut spending, Learmonth pointed to the USC name tags, saying cutting little things like this could make a big difference.

Robineau explained she had consulted the USC Board of Directors, USC general manger Mark Sellars and Western registrar Roma Harris for background research on the annual student surveys she proposed.
—with files from Jonathan Yazer and Chris Sinal



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