Editor’s note: These are the recountings of the DSU Elections debate through the lens of one of our News Editors, Sheena Macmillan.
The Dawson Student Union (DSU) hosted their first and only Electoral Debate on April 20, 2018. Moderated by this year’s Chief Electoral Officer (CEO) Eveshore Omogbai, the debate took place in 4F.2, with an audience of less than 20.
The tables were half-covered with wrinkly yellow tablecloths that were far too small to do their job. In front of each candidate sat a hand-written, arts and craftsy name tag folded in a way to keep them upright, like on your first day of high school and your homeroom teacher is trying to learn everyone’s names.
Omogbai opened the debate with a question for both Treven Caprani Goppy and Cheranda Fraser Williams. Goppy, who is currently the Deputy Chairperson is running for Chairperson. Williams is running to be re-elected as Treasurer. The question posed concerned a common complaint amongst Dawson students: the lack of transparency in the DSU. Goppy reasoned that with an increase of student involvement, the DSU will inherently become more transparent. He blamed social media and Spotted: Dawson for the DSU’s bad reputation. Williams stated that all students need to do is ask, and they will be shown their past budgets and financial statements.
Terry Tsatas, who is running for Deputy Chair, echoed Goppy’s statements about increasing student involvement. He didn’t say much more.
Jonathan Gelinas was a part of Korea Tea last semester and decided to run for Director of Clubs & Services after Anthony Williams, the current Chairperson of the DSU, reached out to him to get him more involved. Gelinas wants to maintain good communication between the clubs and the DSU (as if there is one already).
Adam Bruder-Wexler, an Executive of the Dawson Debate Union, is running for Director of External Affairs. After being asked a question by the CEO, he asked if he could stand while delivering his response. “To project my voice” he joked, to the classroom of around 14 people. A nervous Bruder-Wexler said that he wants to create more employment opportunities for Dawson students, and to keep Dawson students in mind when major corporations are looking to hire students.
Ryan Thérien, who is running for Director of Internal Affairs and Advocacy, talked about their qualifications and experience in the field, and what they would bring to the table. An increase in LGBT+ awareness was mentioned throughout.
Gloria Mutumbo, who is running for Director of Student Life, repeated the sentiment of increasing student involvement. She added that communication with the entire school is also necessary, as opposed to just reaching out to Campus Life and Leadership (CLL) and the clubs. She wants to create events that will get Dawson students in the Dawson spirit. Mutumbo emphasized the necessity for a more extensive Welcome Week, so more students can take apart in it.
The only real debate (if it can be called that) happened between Nicholas Al-Khoury and Aya Chkirate, who are both running for Director of Sustainability. Al-Khoury is running under the same slate as all of the other candidates, but Chkirate is running independently.
The two competitors have very different opinions on what sustainability is. Chkirate, an environmental science student, wants to support club initiatives and initiatives already in place around the school. She wants to start a seasonal thrift store, where students can trade or buy second-hand clothing appropriate for whichever season. Finally, she wants to build bridges between Dawson and big institutions to create a long-term change.
Al-Khoury, a Community Recreation and Leadership Training (CRLT) student, on the other hand, was advocating for more mental sustainability amongst students compared to environmental sustainability. He wants to get Dawson students to love nature, and wants them to voluntarily be more sustainable. He wants Dawson students to be “sustainably happy, sustainably well”.
The last to speak, Sarah-Lena Grogg, who is running for Director of Communication and Mobilization, stated that she wants to create a new Instagram account for the DSU, and expand on that platform along with Twitter. She reiterated Goppy’s feeling of disapproval towards Dawson: Spotted and the “negativity” it spreads. At this, the rest of the panel shook their heads and exhaled in agreement. Williams added that she wants “open communication over reading [second-hand facts] online.”
The floor was then opened to questions. I asked how much smoother the DSU will run since there is no opposition, and how much more they will get done. Before I could even finish my question, Tsatas interjected, saying that “one person is not running with us”. To answer my question, Goppy repeated the focus on student involvement. Bruder-Wexler added that since they are all on the same team, they will work together like a “cohesive unit,” as Thérien phrased it. “The possibilities are endless,” continued Bruder-Wexler. The hope is that they will be more organized, and all they will have to worry about is pushing the DSU forward since they don’t have to fight to keep their seats.
At 4 o’clock the debate was underwhelmingly concluded. Open lines of communication, more transparency, and taking down Dawson: Spotted, were the highlights of the ‘debate’.