The Gazette critiques USC prez candidates' debate

The three University Students' Council presidential candidates faced off in their first public debate yesterday. Here's The Gazette's thoughts on the candidates' debating skills.

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

The three University Students’ Council presidential candidates faced off in their first public debate yesterday. Here’s The Gazette’s thoughts on the candidates’ debating skills:

Josh Safer
" clearly the underdog candidate
" lack of USC leadership experience is apparent; he considers himself “the third option”
" when pressed about his unwillingness to outline platform points, Safer claimed he wants to be the students’ voice by talking to people and using their concerns to make decisions
" aside from a few witty one-liners, Safer didn’t engage much in any actual debate

Chris Reynolds
" appeared confident and well-prepared
" spoke extremely passionately
" took every opportunity to promote his ideas and critique Stevenson’s
" repeatedly offered quick rebuttals
" His campaign team was well-represented, supportive and loud, making Reynolds seem like the fan favourite
" occasionally lapsed into using catch-phrases and rhetoric rather than explaining details

Tom Stevenson
" appeared down-to-earth, genuine and calm
" portrayed a relaxed, laid-back and no-nonsense persona
" never got frustrated, even when Reynolds openly criticized specific points of his platform
" spoke slowly and clearly throughout the debate
" his body language and sometimes expressionless face could be misinterpreted as disinterest

Yesterday Reynolds and Stevenson went head-to-head on several hot issues. Here’s what they had to say:

Reynolds continually promoted his “USC Street Team” idea. He says it’s an effective way to promote various USC services and events and engage students.

Stevenson criticized Reynolds’ idea, reminding the audience that similar ideas have failed miserably in the past. He said the USC must find other ways to reach out to students, particularly to affiliate college and residence students.

Reynolds said this idea has been considered before and it isn’t feasible. He said he met with USC general manager Karen Jackson to confirm his research. He would rather improve on grocery delivery services already available to students.

Stevenson said his consultations with students and his research confirmed many students really want this service, and he will try his best to make it a reality when the UCC is renovated.

Reynolds advocates having a 12-month bus pass for professional school students, who often have classes year-round. He said the majority of undergraduate students aren’t from London and wouldn’t benefit from having their money wasted on a service they won’t use.

Stevenson said a 12-month bus pass would encourage more students to work in London during the summer. He also said students pay for lots of services they don’t use.

Reynolds said implementing his own ideas without asking students what they want from the space would be irresponsible. However, he has several ideas he’s received from students available on his website.

Stevenson said all ideas should come from student input. He defended his specific ideas by saying “I’m just putting forth a vision.”

He said most of his ideas come from a survey conducted two years ago by former USC President Nick Staubitz.

Reynolds claimed many of the students surveyed have graduated, and thus it’s not a reliable source.

Update: Josh Safer now has platform comments available at:

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