March 9, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 82  

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USC VP candidates answer tough questions

By Laura Katsirdakis
Gazette Staff

The CentreSpot lounge in the University Community Centre was filled with VP-wannabes yesterday afternoon as the candidates for the University Students’ Council Board of Director engaged in a question and answer forum.

The candidates for VP-campus issues were the first to answer questions. “My character and integrity is what I can bring to this position,” said fourth-year political science student Eric Johanssen. When asked about his perspective on the Ontario Disability Act, he said it was important to work toward the 2008 goal set by the ODA for complete campus accessibility.

On the topic of environmental issues on campus, fourth-year media, information and technoculture student Toben Alexander advocated contests between residences to increase student awareness. “Anyone who’s watched Degrassi Junior High knows [there can be fun solutions].”

When asked how he would handle heated debates on campus, fourth-year geography student Mark Baird said that finding a balance between free speech and avoiding hateful speech was important. “We need to have free speech, but not in a way that hurts others.”

“The VP-finance is the point person, and the VP-campus issues is the resource person for the clubs,” said VP-finance candidate Clifford Seto, a fourth-year administrative and commercial studies student. He noted he would like to see a stricter definition of what constitutes a club.

Bryan Szemenyei, a fourth-year economics student and VP-finance contender, said when it comes to clubs, the VP-campus issues should handle the cultural and religious clubs, with others being handled by the VP-finance. “I am passionate about my platform — I have extensive experience with USC finance,” he added.

VP-education hopeful Dave Molenhuis, a fourth-year history and French student, cited his experience in lobbying all three levels of government. “I have a broad vision for the portfolio,” he said, explaining that as VP-education he would devote 60 per cent of his time to external issues and 40 per cent to internal ones.

When a a mature student with “unfortunate” credit and no money from the Ontario Student Assistance Program asked how she would help him, fourth-year geology student Alison Forbes pointed out that many bursaries go unassigned because of a lack of awareness. “We need to focus on students like these; we need to make the university aware of students like these.”

“There are serious issues that surround education,” said Mandy Madill, fourth-year philosophy student, explaining that she became involved with education issues when she saw a friend drop out of university in second year because they could not afford to continue.

The candidates for VP-student affairs, fourth-year film student Giovanni Paola, and Natasha Collia, a fourth-year psychology student, were the last to speak at the forum.

Collia stressed the need to have genuine networking between different groups on campus, including the affiliate colleges.
Paola suggested a Gong Show which would take programming out of the UCC and attract those with talents to participate.



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