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Presidential debate highlights

By Katrina Pyne, Assistant News Editor

 

The DSU presidential debates on Friday saw candidates Chris Saulnier, Sebastian Fiszman and John Hillman struggling against a rowdy crowd, faulty lights and each other to earn the attention of the room.

While half of the audience at the Grawood seemed more interested in a Punditry.ca-inspired drinking game (e.g. one drink if buzzwords “collaboration, sustainability, or engagement” were used), the other half of the 40 people that showed up witnessed an interesting debate.

Saulnier, who is running for his second consecutive year as president, brought up key elements of his campaign as he defended his last year in office.

When asked what the biggest and boldest endeavor was that the candidate hoped to see through in the next year, Saulnier mentioned the self-operational food service that he hopes will be in the Student Union Building in the coming years. Just this week, there was a food consultation hosted by the DSU to find out what kinds of food services students want to see in the SUB.

Fiszman seemed to agree with Saulnier on many of his key points, though his campaign does hold some blatant differences. He criticized the current DSU office for its lack of transparency and for the money the Grawood lost.

“Step one,” said Fiszman, “I’m going to look at those books and see where the money is being lost.”

Hillman advocated an opt-in system for societies with levies, an issue that has been debated at council this year. Hillman’s contributions to the debate were limited, though he did reveal that he is a fan of Ken Jennings, the hugely successful Jeopardy contestant.

Though Hillman was pretty quiet when asked about student issues, perhaps his biggest statement was to poke fun at student politics. When asked, “what qualities do you want to see in your exec?” he responded, “not taking yourself too seriously.”

To this, Saulnier rebutted, “It’s important to take the job seriously, without taking yourself too seriously.”

One thing Saulnier and Hillman did manage to agree on was that Batman would beat out Spiderman in combat. Saulnier making referendo to Batman’s wealth of toys and money.

Fiszman had lots to say when the candidates were asked what ideas of other candidates they would try to incorporate. He cited Karl Dempsey’s financial plan and some of Sarah Bouchard’s ideas.

Saulnier cited Fiszman’s pledge to accountability and Hillman’s idea to get a Lady Gaga concert at Dal.

Hillman also showed his enthusiasm when asked “how far would you go if a student came to you with an idea?” to which he responded “anyone can reach me, even through email and I will read their idea in front of council at the very least.”

When it comes to welcoming international students to our campuses, Fiszman says we need to embrace their culture. He said that when he was learning French, English and Hebrew at once he knew what it was like to be “lost in translation.”

According to him, the onus is on us to the effort in to learn from prospective international students.

As the questions went on and the bar got rowdier, Saulnier brought up something up that resonated with the room.

“Student engagement is something we have always struggled with. They don’t always care about the things we want them to. It’s our job to make them care.”

 

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