Led by Antonin Mongeau, alumni chair of UofT's French club (EFUT), the meeting quickly turned over to the town hall panel, composed of ASSU president Gavin Nowlan, The Varsity associate news editor Dylan C. Robertson, and student governor Joeita Gupta. The panelists alternated questions for the candidates present, covering a variety of pressing issues facing student governors in upcoming years, such as:
What remedies would you offer for the troubled state of UofT's finances?
This question brought forth various suggestions. Jorge Prieto called for a strategy to lobby government, coupled with more efforts to attract private donations. Aly Madhavji pointed to poor management and careless investments by the university for the current financial problems, calling for more sound internal policies, while Morgan Vanek outlined a general disagreement with any corporate influence on campus via private donations, and called for strategic targeting of donations along with government lobbying and an accountability process.
What campus space policies would you advocate for?
Candidates generally agreed on the need for changes to the university's current policy. Maria Pilar Galvez in particular noted the lack of consultation in formulating the campus space policy last October, and called for free space for all campus groups. Galvez also pointed to a recent agreement between UTSU and the Faculty of Physical Education and Health as an example of successful efforts. Another candidate, Nicholas Gan, noted the need to address the underlying philosophical problems of the unversity's current policy.
How would you balance the goals of student constituencies with the goals of the university?
Incumbent student governor Olivier Sorin noted that there is a fine balance to be found between the two, and that governors must keep in mind that they are serving the interests of students today as well as decades from now. The Governing Council is a long-term body, and that solutions must address the future. Both Jorge Prieto and Brian Kerr stated that success will come with identifying common and coinciding interests, and that the goals of student constituencies and the university are not mutually exclusive.
While several other questions were raised, the majority were met with similar responses from the candidates. There appeared to be a general agreement on the importance of voting as a united block when necessary, and the recent 42-8 vote at a GC meeting was discussed as a particularly important example of student solidarity.
Following a brief but animated Q&A session, the moderators, candidates and others were left to converse, with many discussions surely focusing on how to better engage students in the important democratic decisions left in their hands.