Getting to know you

Get to know and like the USC presidential candidates

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Battle for the USC

Get to know and like the USC presidential candidates.



Ryan Gauss

Ryan Gauss
Born and raised in London, University Students’ Council presidential candidate Ryan Gauss is no stranger to the city.

He brings the bulk of his experience from King’s University College " Western’s affiliate to the east. As current President of the King’s University College Students’ Council, Gauss appears to be well prepared for the role of USC president.

“I guess I first decided to run when I sat with the USC,” he said. “I looked around and thought ‘I could make a really big change here.’”

Gauss’s platform, entitled Gauss C.A.R.E.S., covers numerous points categorized into five sub-sections: community, athletics and affiliates, repairing financial aid, environmental sustainability and student safety and security.

Though the platform covers many points, Gauss feels his three most important points are increasing involvement with the London community, seeing a USC-run online grocery store and lobbying to improve OSAP issues for middle-class students.

Gauss hopes to make a lot of changes if elected as president.

“I like to get things done and get things done quickly,” he explained. “I don’t believe [the USC] is working to its full potential ... we need to break down the ivory tower and reconnect with all students.”

The Gazette’s first impressions:
Gauss is well spoken and very engaging when he speaks. He is definitely one of the front-runners in this race and should do well if he is able to tap into the affiliate college vote.

However, he should be careful about his platform. At 12 pages, Gauss C.A.R.E.S. may prove to be too large to digest for the average student, but whittling it down could cost Gauss some credibility.

He certainly has some ideas about how to run the USC, and his experience as KUCSC president will no doubt have an effect on how he plans to run his campaign.

Stephen Lecce

Stephen Lecce
After four years of diverse involvement " from sitting two terms in senate to launching a charitable foundation " Stephen Lecce feels he brings a wealth of experience to the coveted position of USC president.

“It takes someone who knows the USC to make it a better place,” Lecce said.

Lecce’s platform focuses on increasing campus affordability, openness on behalf of the USC, increased sustainability and a better student experience.

Some of Lecce’s unique ideas include a Western Earth Day, to promote environmentalism on campus, and free Way Back Playback outdoor movie nights on Concrete Beach.

Lecce hopes to increase the sense of community at Western.

“Students should have every access point to the president,” he said. “I want to be a president that is with [students], listens to them and acts on their wishes.”

Lecce assured he would be a strong leader including taking a stand on financial aid and the on-going University Community Centre negotiations between the USC and Western administration.

“It’s important that next year’s president be going forward with a strategy ... and be willing to recommend renovations that are reflective of student wants,” Lecce added.

The Gazette’s first impressions:
Lecce is confident in his experience and his platform appears to be a well-researched, comprehensive direction for the USC. Unfortunately, his thorough knowledge of student government and the inner-workings of the university make him appear scripted.

Under the surface, though, Lecce has legitimate passion for this university.

Also, Lecce’s broad spectrum of involvement may help him connect with a variety of Western students, but only if he can shed his political skin and let his personality shine through.

Christan Mariyanayagam

Christan Mariyanayagam
Christan Mariyanayagam " a former Homecoming commissioner, science councillor and campus employee " offers more than a 13 character last name. Pronounced Mary-a-NAYA-gam, the fifth-year psychology and medical science student is focused on fostering campus safety, cultural diversity and an approachable student council.

He is confident his experience will prepare him for the University Students’ Council’s top spot.

Keeping students out of harm’s way was on the top of Mariyanayagam’s list of campaign promises. “I hope to implement a campus safety audit and address the effectiveness of our current system,” he said.

Mariyanayagam suggested pairing cultural groups with university constituencies to decentralize cultural diversity campaigns. “For example, the music department and the Caribbean Student Organization could work together,” Mariyanayagam said.

He assured collaboration would help cultural groups reach out to more students.

Mariyanayagam criticized the current student council. “This year’s board hasn’t been as approachable as it could have been,” he said. “I’d like to see time set aside so [council] could interact with students on a ground level.”

Mariyanayagam plans to push council members to move outside their comfort zone by suggesting an hour-per-week volunteer policy.

The Gazette’s first impressions:
Mariyanayagam is relaxed and conversational. Although he lacks the articulate polish of some of the other candidates, Mariyanayagam is able to answer questions directly without the usual jargon and rhetoric.

If Mariyanayagam succeeds at representing the wide range of cultural backgrounds on campus, he will be a successful candidate.

Mitchell Steinberg

Mitchell Steinberg
Mitchell Steinberg loves bareknuckle boxing, underwater bowling, and being a “Ninjpire,” but most of all Steinberg loves putting the F.U.N. back into student life.

Steinberg’s first thought of running as a University Students’ Council presidential candidate came a couple of months ago, while talking with his buddies.

“We just kinda threw around the idea of one of us running to mix up the process,” he explained.

Out of his friends, Steinberg said he was the only one with the motivation to actually do it.

As a member of last year’s Orientation Week staff and two-time Medway-Sydenham soph, Steinberg has plenty of practice in student leadership positions. He has sat on Med-Syd council for three years.

The fourth-year media, information and technoculture student summarized the highlights of his platform under the acronym F.U.N., which stands for focusing on students’ needs, unity amongst campus groups, and new groundbreaking original ideas.

As USC president, Steinberg would like to see more inclusive events for the general student population in addition to the events he feels target only niche groups.

“I’d try to make things more fun around here,” Steinberg said. “Why have one week of fun when you can have it all year?”

The Gazette’s first impressions:
Steinberg brings his O-week spirit to the presidential campaign. Although it’s great to see enthusiasm, Steinberg should be careful to focus on serious issues as well.

If he wants to win this election, he will have to take himself seriously, otherwise students could end up seeing him as the alternative option. Attitude could improve his chances a lot.

Overall, if he combines his down-to-earth style and creativity with some realistic ideas, Steinberg could turn out to be a promising candidate.

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