February 12, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 74  

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Candidates get fiesty, finally

By Marshall Bellamy
Gazette Staff
Ian Howes/Gazette
NEVER IN THE HISTROY OF RAT RACES HAS EVERYONE LOOKED SO BLASÉ. Western’s USC presidential candidates, Pat Harris, Steve Learmonth, Dave Molenhuis, Kathy Robineau and Nick Staubitz ponder a question at yesterday’s presidential debate.

What was once a congenial race for University Students’ Council president turned a tad nasty in the University Community Centre atrium yesterday afternoon.

“What I’m talking about is not eliminating corporate presence on campus,” said third-year French and history student Dave Molenhuis, referring to the poster sale and the presidential debate occurring simultaneously in the atrium. “[I’ll] ensure that an event like [the debate] takes priority over corporate presence on campus.”

“[We need to] focus on not double-booking the atrium and focus on where we have corporate presence so we can see awareness weeks,” explained fourth-year sociology student Kathy Robineau.

“I think it’s important to listen to students rather than telling them what to do and what to think,” noted Steve Learmonth, a fifth-year biochemical engineering student.

“There seems to be an attitude from club presidents that they don’t have a dialogue with the USC,” said third-year political science student Patrick Harris. “[I want to] allow clubs to express themselves freely, as long as they don’t promote hate.”

“We need to move out of the UCC, stop putting all our eggs in this one basket and get the USC all across campus to help students,” said fourth-year biology and geology student Nick Staubitz.

The candidates were asked which of their opponents they would least like to be elected — four of the five selected Harris, making him the perceived front-runner. They then took aim at Harris’ platform to lobby the provincial government to lower the age of majority from 19 to 18 and his ties with the Ontario Progressive Conservative Party.

“I find it difficult to believe that with Harris’ passion for the Conservative party, he is going to be able to remain nonpartisan if he gets the job,” Robineau stated. “I don’t believe that if he were offered a political position [with the Conservatives] that he wouldn’t drop the USC in a second.”

“To bring partisan politics into this is bull,” Learmonth said. “I think [Harris’] platform spends too much time pushing for lowering the... age of majority,” he added.

“There are issues on campus that every student is interested in, and the more times you [lobby] the Ontario government, the more [the government is] going to tune you out,” Staubitz said.

“I myself have a political affiliation as well,” Molenhuis noted of Harris’ political affiliations. “I’m very concerned with where he would lead this school and what his policies would be.”

“The role of USC president is not based on ideology, but about students,” Harris asserted. “People are bashing me, but I stood up and said where I stand. Why didn’t you stand up and say ‘this is how I feel?’ — I have experience I can bring to the USC that no one else can dream of bringing.”

—with files from Allison Buchan-Terrell, Amy Ferguson, Kelly Gow, Rachel Levy and Mark Polishuk



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