Last night’s informal debate at TwelvEighty offered a look at how the candidates stand out in a crowd, but it wasn’t the night for tough questions or head-to-heads.
Personalities and common goals emerged early in the hour-long panel talk, which allowed candidates who have fallen under the radar to share the floor with the frontrunners.
Haman Man, who has kept the lowest profile since announcing his candidacy, opened with a light-hearted joke. His demeanour was easygoing, but he was serious about his wide-ranging platform, from improved accessibility to students representing the MSU in parliament.
FYI, his posters are coming soon, and they’ll have Braille on them.
He sat next to Dan Fahey, who got riled up about campus food prices, tuition and book fees.
“We need more space in the libraries, but we also need some bloody books!” said Fahey.
Fahey’s answers weren’t as specific as other candidates. He spoke about the need for “students to take power into their own hands” and his fond impressions of McMaster’s student body as an exchange student, but didn’t elaborate much on his platform.
“I’ve got a lot of experience at my students union back home, and I wanted to bring some ideas here,” he said.
“I want to give back to McMaster and Hamilton, which I’ve really enjoyed so much.”
Rory Yendt, sitting at one end of the panel, took the most straightforward approach and focused more on explaining his platform than engaging with the audience. He was the most insistent on fiscal transparency.
“Students should have a say in all financial matters in the MSU, not leave it to the SRA,” said Yendt, who proposes that referenda be held in every case that student funds will be spent.
Yendt’s tone was less enthusiastic compared to others’ and it seemed at times as if he were ready to give up.
“Win or lose, I’m happy about it,” he said, referring to the result of the race.
The candidates seemed collegial and for the most part attentive to each other’s ideas. They each gave opening and closing statements, and responded separately to four questions.
The questions were easy to anticipate: What’s your vision for the MSU? Why did you choose your campaign slogan, colour and theme? What would you do during your first month in office? What can we expect from your campaign in the next eight days?
David Campbell had a consistently confident voice, and emphasized his experience on the MSU’s board of directors in his answers.
“I’ve heard people saying the MSU provides advocacy and services, but there’s a third element that’s left out,” he said. “It’s also about building community and campus tradition at our school.”
Jacob Brodka had an uplifting and charismatic tone. He expressed that he wants to make the MSU “fun and relevant again.”
Brodka chose to start his opening statement with “a shout-out to Huzaifa Saeed and Siobhan Stewart,” current VP (Education) and President of the MSU.
He then referenced Matthew Dillon-Leitch, President during 2011-12, and agreed with his point that “we need to invest in student ideas.”
Dowdall had a more job-interview tone when he talked about his experience as part-time manager of SWHAT and a teaching assistant. He then switched over to a more family-centred tone.
“I developed a group of friends that became my family,” he said. “My campaign is run with family here supporting me.”
More than once, Emmanuel broke out of his ‘space maroon emperor’ character, which was becoming repetitive after a few rounds of questions.
“I hope everyone’s aware that I’m running a joke campaign,” he said toward the end, getting a laugh out of the crowd.
He reassured the audience: “If I somehow get elected to office, I’ll do what needs to be done.”
The presidential pub night was a get-to-know-the-candidates event in advance of a more formal debate hosted by the MSU’s election department on Jan. 29, the same day polls open.
Here’s a line from each candidate’s closing statement, in order of speaking:
“It’s all about taking the engineering approach to the MSU.”
“Don’t vote for fancy slogans, vote for ideas. Don’t vote for change, vote for movements.”
“You are a very small minority of this institution – all of you are going to vote. You guys here, you’ve come out. Get as many people as you can to vote.”
“Regardless of who you support, you support the space maroon empire in the end.”
“We have seven fantastic candidates. We’ve come up with innovative ideas and we want to hear what you have to say. Come talk to us.”
“There’s a lot of opportunity for what we can do next year. I’m looking forward to seeing more of you next week.”
“I think what’s incredible about an election is that we’re turning students attention to it. We’re really looking forward to getting your feedback.