Approximately 75 students were in attendance at the hastily organized all-candidates debate at the Bahen Centre; 99 people listened to the live stream on UTSU’s website.
Steve Masse of Woodsworth College is challenging incumbent Adam Awad for the presidency. Masse is running on a platform of change while Awad is running on a record of experience. The elected slate will represent U of T's 45,000 undergraduate students.
Students had the opportunity to ask candidates about their platform, the electoral process, and what each candidate brings to the plate.
The debates were heated. Moderator Dave Meslin had difficulty calling the room to order: personal attacks flew between candidates, students went over set time limits to ask questions, hooting and hollering interrupted candidates' statements.
Isabel Lay, President of the Equity Studies Students’ Union, questioned Alyssa James, VP Equity Change runner up, on her lack of participation with equity related issues when disability studies faced large spending cuts earlier this year.
James protested Lay’s charge, saying she was involved with other Equity groups and would work with ESSU is the future. “Funding equals quality, and if elected I will work to increase funding to these groups.”
Mike Maher, Change candidate for VP Internal & Services, expressed concern that the student scholarship guide - Awad's campaign promise on the '09-'10 Access slate - was uploaded on UTSU’s website the night before, and that undergrad Emily Hofstetter was not credited for writing the document. Awad responded that this was an error set to be corrected.
Rolli Adenmosun, VP Internal & Services candidate for Stronger Together, said “I alone could probably push a car, me and the executive staff could probably push a truck, but 45,000 students together could push a university to anything it wants it to be.”
“I take offence that you believe you completed your task as [current UTSU President] Sandy Hudson's Associate President,” Hadia Akhtar, UTSU VP External, directed to Masse. Masse rebutted, saying that he had been effective in his role despite problems of short notice for meetings.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is the ability to send e-mails to all our members,” said Awad. Currently UTSU sends their e-mails to Simcoe Hall and they decide when to send it out to students. This is something Awad would like to work to change if elected.
The election itself will be held on Tuesday March 16 through Thursday 18 in various locations on campus.
Editor's note: corrections were made to paragraphs 1 and 9.