Reynolds and Stevenson go head-to-head, Safer MIA

12-month bus pass, grocery store hot topics at USC presidential debate

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Chris Reynolds and Tom Stevenson

Jon Purdy

CUTE, MATCHING COLLARS AND SWEATERS. DID YOU GUYS PLAN THAT WHEN YOU WERE GOSSIPING ON THE PHONE THE OTHER NIGHT? University Students' Council presidential candidates and teenage girls Chris Reynolds (left) and Tom Stevenson faced off yet again in the UCC Wednesday.

University Students’ Council presidential candidates Chris Reynolds and Tom Stevenson went head-to-head again at Wednesday’s media panel in The Spoke Lounge as they debated hot issues, including University Community Centre renovations, grocery stores and bus passes.

Candidate Josh Safer made a brief opening statement and left the debate due to prior commitments, letting Reynolds and Stevenson delve deeper into specific differences in their platforms.

The debate was broadcast live on CHRW, and all questions were posed by student representatives of CHRW and The Gazette. Western political science professor Cameron Anderson attended the debate and offered some comments to The Gazette.

Anderson said both candidates seem to have good intentions and it was evident they want to do the best for students. He said their answers " and sometimes lack thereof " revealed differences in their visions for the USC.

“When it came to describing the role of Council for keeping the president and the Board of Directors in check, the sense that I had for both responses was nothing beyond the fact that Council should be more than just a rubber stamp for all the president’s ideas,” Anderson said.

“There was no sense of details or concrete proposals about how the council could be empowered...maybe they hadn’t thought about the topic before, but both answers seemed weak.”

Reynolds and Stevenson strongly disagreed on the necessity and usefulness of a 12-month bus pass over the eight-month pass students currently get for $118 in student fees paid to the USC.

Stevenson said he spoke with many students who said they want and would use a 12-month pass. He said he also spoke with the London Transit Commission and learned Fanshawe College students get a full-year pass for $134 and Western students could get the same deal.

Reynolds revealed his stance on the issue by asking the audience for a show of hands to see how many students leave London every summer. Many students raised their hands and Reynolds said he’d proven his point.

Anderson said he thought Reynolds’ poll was gimmicky.

“It made the point with no veracity, and Stevenson should have responded by asking ‘and how many people stay in London,’” he said.

Reynolds said as president, he would advocate a full-year pass only for professional school students who often have classes all year long. He added the LTC supports his initiative.

Reynolds attacked Stevenson’s plans to use upcoming extra space in the UCC to try and put in a grocery store.

He said he spoke with USC general manager Karen Jackson, who told him a grocery store initiative has been attempted many times before and isn’t feasible.

Stevenson said whether or not these plans have been feasible in the past, students have told the USC repeatedly they want and need a grocery store. He said he’ll explore alternatives, such as carrying only non-perishable food items, to avoid problems that have halted similar plans in the past.

Anderson said Reynolds’ criticisms seemed effective and credible and didn’t differ from strategies used in many political campaigns.

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