SFSS debates bring out few candidiates, crowds

By David Dyck

SUB discussion dominates discussion at both Surrey and Burnaby

Last week’s SFSS general election debates took place amongst little fanfare, as hopeful candidates faced off at Burnaby’s atrium cafeteria on Monday, and Surrey’s mezzanine on Tuesday. Both executive and at at-large and faculty representative debates were done back-to-back.

Only four of the six executive positions were contested. At Monday’s debate in Burnaby, Craig Pavelich of the Renew SFU slate, running for the internal relations officer, and current president Jeff McCann, running for university relations officer, were not in attendance. Of the 16 at-large and faculty representative positions, only the at-large and science representative positions are contested. Only six of the 16 candidates for non-executive positions participated.

The Burnaby debate, which was moderated by Independent Electoral Commission chief commissioner Ali Godson, gave the attending candidates the opportunity to present their platforms, and field questions from their opponents or the audience. After the first executive portion of the debate was over, however, half of the audience left, leaving just over 20 participants. The lack of candidates made for a much less intense debate than that which had characterized previous years. There was even less participation in the Surrey debate on Tuesday, with only nine contestants out of 29 participating.

A recurring theme in the debate was the issue of the potential student union building, a proposal that is being spearheaded by the current McCann administration.

All four external relations officer candidates were present for the Burnaby debate. Three of the four candidates, Wilson, Larsen, and Hankinson, came out in favour of Build SFU, identifying student space as an issue that this program is seeking to tackle.

The SUB issue also came up in the presidential debate, particularly between current member services officer Lorenz Yeung and Renew SFU candidate Ashleigh Kolla. Kolla asked Yeung about the referendum question of the levy to fund the SUB, claiming that there was a lack of student consultation prior to the election, and questioning the board’s trustworthiness in light of last year’s lockout. Yeung responded that he agreed that the board was not qualified to address all of the stakeholders, but that consultations would occur for three years before construction begins, under supervision of a project manager. Addressing the lockout, Yeung responded that all legal processes were followed. Kolla admitted that a student union building is needed, but said that the process in and of itself should be one that brings students together.

The issue of student space evoked the most passionate response of either debate from Kevin So. So was the only one of three science faculty candidates who participated in the science faculty representative debate in Surrey. He argued vehemently for the necessity of a games room for science students while waiting for a Build SFU’s SUB project to finish. “Vote for Kevin and I’ll make sure to get that room. If I have to pay for it I’ll do it, if I have do die for it, I’ll do it. I need this room, we all need this room, and I will make it happen no matter what,” said So in his closing statement.