Opening debate high on rhetoric, low on detail

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Wednesday evening’s University Students’ Council meeting featured the first debate between presidential candidates Chris Reynolds, Josh Safer and Tom Stevenson.

Typically, the council debate’s questions are general and focus more on each candidate’s personality than their ideas.

Additionally, numerous questions are asked by council members who belong to one of the candidate’s campaign teams, bringing their validity into question.

What the debate does provide, however, is a chance to gauge each candidate’s public speaking skills and ability to think on the spot, both of which are crucial qualities for a successful USC president.

While the debate had no clear winner, it exposed a few of each candidate’s strengths and weaknesses.

As council’s speaker, Reynolds had a clear advantage, since he is used to addressing the entire council and knows everyone by name.

Reynolds seemed calm, confident and prepared throughout the debate. His primary weakness was his reliance on buzzwords and catch phrases, such as “let’s get out of the boardroom and into the dorm room,” rather than addressing specific questions.

Stevenson revealed his laid-back persona by speaking in a more conversational tone than Reynolds. He said he’s known as a loyal friend and leader and a genuinely good guy.

Unlike Reynolds, Stevenson seemed nervous and less polished at times, preventing him from fully explaining his platform.

Safer couldn’t address some questions due to his lack of USC knowledge. However, Safer provided clear and thoughtful responses to most questions and displayed an ability to think quickly.

Safer stressed he’s open to new ideas and his goal is spending as much time talking to students as possible. He showed he has a good sense of humour and achieved some well-earned laughs from the sometimes tough crowd.

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