All 18 director candidates came together in the Concourse on Tuesday to answer questions and speak about their plans if they were elected to the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union board of directors.
There were originally 19 candidates, but Nicole Gamsyager, a first-year student at the Laurier Brantford campus, dropped out just hours before the open forum began. April Qu, another first-year candidate from the Waterloo campus, came half-way through the director segment of the open forum because she was coming from a class at the University of Waterloo.
All three Brantford candidates — Courtney Yole, Jujhar Singh and Laura Bassett — attended the Waterloo open forum.
When asked on his thoughts about how the open forum went, returning director candidate, Jordan Epstein, said, “I think the open forum went really well. I was really impressed with many of the new director candidates, some have shown that they have really done their research and knew what was going on, so it makes me really hopeful for next year.”
Epstein was the only candidate to declare during the open forum his intention to run for chair and chief governance office, but has to be elected to the board first. An audience question was posed to Epstein asking what he would do differently than current chair, Jon Pryce, and responded by saying he would be stricter on director training and to cut down the number of in-camera sessions to increase transparency.
One of the first questions was once again asked by senator-elect, Luke Dotto. He was curious about the new candidate’s thought on the Integrated Planning and Resource Management (IPRM).
“It’s a daunting task but it’s important to realize where dollars are going. IRPM will give an indication of what most and least successful programs are,” said Michael Kates, a third-year communications student and first-time candidate at the forum.
Another question asked by the audience was about each director’s knowledge about Robert’s Rules of Order, the guiding principles for board etiquette and behaviour. Around six or seven said they were not familiar with them, but were willing to learn.
While he wasn’t supposed to answer the question, returning director candidate, Matt Cassselman, jokingly said, “I am, I am [familiar with Robert’s Rules]! I’ve actually read the book.”
A similar question, which was posed by Epstein via Twitter, asked how many first-time candidates have been to board meeting.
“I definitely don’t remember seeing all of those people and may have missed them myself [at those meetings]. I know when I was originally running for the board that it was really important to know what I was going into to,” he explained as his reasoning for asking that question.
Presidential candidate Chris Walker also took the opportunity to ask the director candidate questions by asking each candidate what they felt was an accomplishment of the board this year.
Kate Stevenson, a returning director, said it was numerous projects completed by the ownership linkage committee, which she’s a member of. While many questions were posed to the candidates, themes such as advocacy and accountability were common in many of the candidates’ answers.
When asked what she thought of some of the questions asked, Bassett said, “I thought that they were really informed, and that students really got to the nitty-gritty of what needs to be said, and what really needs to be the focus of this year’s election.”
John Drimmie, a third-year Laurier student, felt the open forum went well, not just for him, but for the candidates as a whole. “I think it went awesome, I’m really proud of the other candidates,” he said.