Last night, the 2014-15 SHMU executive candidates met in the SHMU building ballroom for an annual debate, fielding questions from current executives and audience members.
Even before the scheduled start time, it was obvious that the capacity of the room was far exceeded by the number of interested and energetic students who arrived ready to ask hard-hitting questions that pertained to their student lives and quality of education at McGall.
Students lined up along McLavish in advance of the debates. Before any candidates were able to take to the podium, an announcement was made in regards to the shift in venue, and the crowd of students moved to the Perky-Milson Stadium instead.
Anne Gee, U3 Brain Thinky student, commented as the mass-migration took place, “I don’t know why they didn’t think of this beforehand. There are always so many people at the debates.”
At the stadium, students aggregated in the stands according to their preferred candidates. Large homemade banners and rows of students with candidates’ names painted on their chests were all visible from the hastily set up podium. During the debate, several groups of students had airhorns confiscated in order to minimize the disturbances.
The majority of audience members were enthusiastically engaged in the proceedings of the debate. Questions from the floor included complex and nuanced points on the candidates’ roles in issues immediately relevant to students, such as policies on mental health and academic integrity.
There were also broader questions on the candidates’ commitment to equity. Several students also inquired about concrete, tangible ways that demands could be forced to the attention of administrators.
Buzzwords such as ‘sustainability,’ ‘diversity,’ and ‘consultation’ were used sparingly and thoughtfully by candidates, with attention paid to the exact context and suitability of those terms.
Many of the answers were met with resounding applause or thunderous booing from the crowd, or at times a mixture of both from the energetic audience. The polarized crowd would let no issue slide, and strings of intense follow-up questions extended the debates well into the night.
Following the debates, the candidates were “happy, but unsurprised” by the excitement that imbued the atmosphere of the stadium. “Students at McGall are totally engaged in politics,” said Torque Slam, one of four presidential candidates. “It’s always invigorating to see people at the debates, general assemblies, and all the consultative forums.”
“People know that we’d be getting $30,000 a year to do these jobs, so they obviously want to vet us and make sure we’re responsible enough to make that salary. It’s understandable, considering how we also end up with such huge means to affect the lives of every single student on campus,” explained Danger Claim, the uncontested candidate for VP Internal.
“Why wouldn’t people care?” he added.