The presidential candidates took the stage at the open forum yesterday to defend themselves and their platforms in front of the Wilfrid Laurier University student body in order to inform
student voters about their choices regarding who will be the next president and CEO of the Wilfrid Laurier University’s Students’ Union.
While in the Concourse, Annie Constantinescu, Caleb Okwubido, Chris Walker, Daniel Saad and Jennifer Taborowski took questions from the audience, current and former WLUSU execs
and staff, as well as questions that trickled in via Twitter. Their question session was undoubtedly the busiest, as they saw the largest student audience of the day.
After their opening statements, the candidates began representing themselves by explaining where they see Laurier in ten years. While all candidates agreed that the school population would be larger, Walker and Saad were the only ones to address the importance of an overall positive student experience while combating the inevitable issues that will arise as a result of a growing population.
When asked about how they will promote advocacy, all of the candidates expressed concerns regarding communication on campus.
“Engaging students and being able to advocate on behalf of where they want to develop and what they want to learn [is important],” answered Constantinescu.
Saad echoed her sentiment and also recognized that there “seems to be a lot of senseless rift on campus [between WLUSU and the student body]” that needs to be fixed in order to properly represent students.
However, in terms of beginning to work towards a productive term as president, not all of the candidates seemed completely prepared. When asked which vice-presidents they had begun t
o work with, Okwubido said “I didn’t meet with anyone … I’m planning on meeting with them if elected.”
Walker explained that has worked with all of the current vice-presidents (VPs), but did not explicably state if he had met with them within regards to his campaign. Saad, Taborowski and Constantinescu explained that they had met with some of, but not all of the VPs.
While many questions were posed to the candidates, the majority of their answers related back to themes of better communication and expanding and improving upon the student experience on both Laurier campuses. However, there was some ambiguity as to how their goals would be accomplished.
Some hecklers within the crowd made their skepticism known by shouting out their comments, which were largely centered on their negative impressions of WLUSU. However, the candidates seemed to enjoy the challenge that these questions and comments brought to the forum.
“I think it’s definitely a learning experience and it’s something I can go back, reflect on and learn about,” said Tabor
owski. “So I can come back and give students answers to these questions that we weren’t necessarily prepared for.”
Saad agreed, and expressed his admiration towards students who spoke out. “I love the hecklers, I’m okay with that; it’s passion and that’s okay, that’s healthy. If people want to express their opinions I encourage it, it doesn’t bother me one bit, he explained.
Overall, the candidates agreed that the forum went well albeit being put on the spot in many instances.
“I’m not going to lie it was really nerve-racking, but I was really excited to get all my platform points out,” said Constantinescu.
“I did like many of the questions,” said Okwubido. “But one of the questions that was challenging was the one about the number of committees that we have.”
Walker was especially impressed with the diverse range of answers that were presented to the candidates, but insinuated that they were not given nearly enough time to properly explain their answers.
Saad agreed with Walker’s sentiments in that not enough time was given for answers, but felt that overall, the forum was a success. “I think all the candidates were strong and we really stayed true to our platforms,” he said. “I don’t think there would be a bad president out of any of us.”