All-candidates forum poorly attended

Devan C. Tasa, News Editor Ω

TRUSU's electoral committee, composed of director Katie Hutfluss, president Dustin McIntyre and executive director Nathan Lane, ask questions of the candidates at the March 22 all-candidates' forum. - PHOTO BY DEVAN C. TASA

TRUSU’s electoral committee, composed of director Katie Hutfluss, president Dustin McIntyre and executive director Nathan Lane, ask questions of the candidates at the March 22 all-candidates’ forum. – PHOTO BY DEVAN C. TASA

TRU students had the opportunity on March 22 to ask questions of the candidates for the March 25 and 26 TRUSU elections – but it was an opportunity nobody took up.

Besides TRUSU’s electoral committee, the media and some of the candidates, nobody showed up to the event, which took place in the Campus Activities Centre’s Alpine Room.

President

The sole candidate for president, Dylan Robinson, told the audience he wanted to focus on the issues if elected.

“What I’m really hoping to do next year is to really start taking on substantive issues that we can take on as a student caucus and being able to move that forward through the [university governance bodies that are available to us],” he said.

For instance, he said he wanted to examine issues like fee deferrals and the flat fee that international students have to pay whether they take one or five courses.

When asked about how he would handle the media, Robinson said that knowing the subject matter well based on his previous experience would make that job easier.

Robinson also said he was interested in improving on-campus sustainability

“I think there’s a real opportunity next year with the Aramark contract coming up for renewal for us to really start leveraging this institution on that particular issue,” he said.

Vice President Internal

Vice president internal is the only one of four executive positions where there will be a contested race. Running for the position are Will George and Ashley Goodwin.

Both of the candidates cited their experiences as reasons why they should be elected. Goodwin talked about working with community groups in Abbotsford.

“I do have a lot of event planning experience and a lot of big [community] events,” she said.

George cited his experience working with 15 clubs on TRU campus.
“I feel for this position there needs to be someone who’s really focused and had a lot of experience working with the diverse group of students we have on campus here,” he said.

Both candidates agreed that the flat rate that international students had to pay was unfair.

As for promoting TRUSU events to a diverse membership, George said he would focus on communicating with clubs to bring them into the fold while Goodwin would try to bring international and domestic students together.

Vice President External

If Leif Douglass is elected to vice president external, he said he believes he can handle requests from the media.

“Over the past year, I’ve done a lot of media work already, specifically around banning disposable plastic bottles and I think media can be hugely important,” he said. “If you can frame the issue correctly, you can get your message out quite widely.”

He said he was also willing to sit at campaign tables to connect with the student population at large.

Douglass also told the audience he was passionate about TRUSU’s Drop Fees Campaign and wanted to continue with work done in previous years.

Vice President Finance

Trad Bahabri told the audience that if elected, he would have one main focus.

“My only and strong case is to ensure students get more discounts and provide better services,” he said. “We already have great services, but we need to get the student body to actually use those services to actively take advantage of them.”

He said in particular the students union’s tutoring services and book exchange were underused and should be promoted more.

Bahabri also wanted to work with the Cineplex Theatre to hold more student-exclusive viewings. Last year TRUSU hosted a viewing of Broken City.

Aboriginal Representative

Of the two people running for the position, only Elizabeth Whiting attended. Mathilda Chillihitzia was not in attendance.

Whiting told the audience she would bring a different perspective to TRUSU council.

“I believe one of the biggest issues we need to focus on is Aboriginal awareness,” she said, adding that there was lots happening in Aboriginal communities with health care politics and educational systems.

“We need to show the Aboriginal students that there are a lot more scholarships and services in the community.”

International Students’ Representative

Deborah Efretuei is the only person running for the international students’ representative.

“My main goal is to continue on the previous representative’s project on per-credit tuition [for international students], as well as lobbying for ethnic foods and halal foods,” she said. Halal foods are those foods that don’t have products that are banned by Muslim scripture, like pork and alcohol.

She also said she wanted to hold events that better connect international and domestic students.

Efretuei was asked if she would consider working closely with TRU World if elected. Her response was it wasn’t a good idea, as TRUSU and TRU World had different goals.

Women’s Representative

Of the two candidates running, only Olivia Skagos was present.

I know I have the experience and the drive and the skill to address issues in post-secondary education,” she said.

After her opening remarks, Skagos was asked how the Dec. 6 violence against women event could be improved.

“In the past, we had some issue with student attendance,” she said.
“We’ve always been really good at getting a lot of TRU administration and a lot of the big head-wigs out there to come and attend the event, but our main focus is to incorporate students.”

Amanda Hill was the only candidate not present.

LGBTQ Representative

The upcoming year will be the first year there will be LGBTQ representative sitting on the students union’s council.

Nick Zdunich, the only one running for the position, told the audience the most important thing was to create a strong foundation for the LGBTQ community on campus.

“We have to build a community,” he said. “We need an LGBT community presence here on campus.”

He also wants to go into the community to work on pride public spaces.

Directors At Large

Only two out of the five people running for the four available positions, Parth Patel and Colin Macedo, attended the forum. Kaitlin Clement, Nolan Guichon and Declan Harrison were not present.

Patel said he would focus on talking with students, both in groups and one-on-one, to help meet their needs and inform them about the students union’s services. He also wanted to continue his work on lobbying the university to charge international students by credit rather than a flat fee.

“I strongly hold that students should be responsible for shaping the university,” he said.

Macedo said what distinguished him from the others was his business-oriented background and his commitment to ensuring the financial security of students. He said he was also involved with the WolfPack, campus clubs and the TRU Community Trust.

“I feel like I bring a diverse background and knowledge,” he said. “With that background I feel I could represent students easily.”