Behind the promise: which platform is feasible?

Current USC vice-presidents evaluate each candidate's platform

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

With some help from the current University Students’ Council Board of Directors, The Gazette compiled some final thoughts on this year’s presidential candidates’ platforms.

From their third floor hideout in the UCC, President Tom Stevenson, VP-campus issues James Arthurs, VP-student events Sabrina Sdao, VP-university affairs David Simmonds and VP-finance David Singh reflected on the initiatives proposed by the candidates " without passing any final judgment, of course.

Ryan Gauss
Ryan Gauss has a lengthy platform, and in the eyes of this year’s USC board, Gauss will have to organize his priorities in order to fulfill his initiatives.

“[The platform promises are] a lot to take on,” Singh said, noting Gauss’ view on OSAP is a big initiative. Gauss had not talked to Singh about his financing before the election.

Gauss’ OSAP plans also drew criticism from Simmonds. “It would be good for students, but not good for the system,” he said. He added Gauss’ name dropping was gratuitous and questioned whether he could effectively use his London connections.

But Simmonds did find some high points: “His concern for generally overlooked groups " such as athletes and the affiliates " is encouraging.”

Gauss could have benefited from more research, as several of his initiatives are already being undertaken by the USC.

For example, Stevenson confirmed the USC is already in talks with Grocery Checkout, one of Gauss’ major platform initiatives.

Stephen Lecce
Stephen Lecce’s platform is comprehensive and has many concrete, feasible ideas, according to the current board.

With a focus on making Western cheaper for students, Lecce highlighted various financial initiatives in his platform. Simmonds found Lecce’s ideas exciting and noted how Lecce spoke directly to the issue of textbook prices.

Simmonds did not agree with Lecce’s decision to enroll in a course, however.

“Tom has expressed the challenges of taking a course... we need to be more creative in connecting to students,” Simmonds explained.

Arthurs liked Lecce’s Not at My Western campaign concept but questioned his Earth Day idea.

“There’s already an EnviroWeek,” Arthurs said. “The ideas he had about the day would be good extended throughout the week.”

As for Wayback Playback movie nights, Sdao found the idea feasible.

“All you need is a projector, sound, and rights to the movie,” she said.

Overall, Lecce’s platform touches on key issues across the board. “He takes a solid position,” Simmonds concluded.

Christan Mariyanayagam
Board members pointed out downfalls in Christan Mariyanayagam’s platform.

Arthurs noted some ideas are already being implemented: “A lot of work is being put into the wet/dry policy and there’s been a lot of work put into safety on campus through the Campus Community Police Service and Elgin Austen, [director of CCPS], through their new crime prevention initiative.”

Simmonds pointed to Mariyanayagam’s lack of town-and-gown coverage in his platform and felt there should be a more in-depth assessment of student costs.

As for the financial portion of the platform, Singh questioned the feasibility of using funds raised by large events to support smaller events.

Singh said Charity Ball, the most profitable Western event, fundraises entirely for charity and could not fund other events.

Sdao said there was room for constituencies and clubs to collaborate on events, but noted groups must first be willing to participate.

Mitch Steinberg
Mitch’s campaign didn’t draw much criticism from the current VPs, but it didn’t receive much praise either.

Arthurs complimented Steinberg on his intent: “I honour the thought of bringing everyone together.”

He added, “I’m interested in learning more of the how from his platform.”

Singh thought Steinberg’s wish to continue support of STAND’s efforts was a big promise to make and felt Steinberg’s proposal to make all textbooks available in the library was the least financially feasible promise. “Even the lowest price assumptions produce a huge cost to the USC.”

As for the suggestion to extend Foot Patrol hours, Arthurs worried how the patrollers would get home, since buses stop running at 12 a.m. and during exams the library closes at 2 a.m.

Steinberg’s suggestion for a concert for all students received criticism as well. Arthurs cautioned that with so many different tastes on campus, it would be difficult to find an artist that all students would enjoy.

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