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Recapping the Silhouette’s MSU Presidential candidate debate Candidates picked apart each other's platforms

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Each candidate faced criticism from one another based on their platform, each presented their vision for the future of the MSU and of McMaster, and each tried to make their argument in the final debate of the campaigning season as to why they should be the candidate you vote for.

While the general questions and responses were relatively tame – each candidate restating commonly reiterated statements on their biggest platform points and what makes their platform unique – the individualized questions offered unique perspectives.

Each candidate received two questions personalized on their platforms, though there was a large deal of agreement on some. Matt Clarke’s enthusiasm for a campus Art Crawl, Corey Helie-Masters’ elaboration on student housing support, and Ehima Osazuwa’s point on potential extra training of TA’s were all received with praise and minimal resistance outside of basic clarifications.

“It’s really just fostering a sense of community and showing off what makes McMaster unique and McMaster, McMaster,” said Clarke.

The most talked about point was on Ehima’s tuition platform focus and the discussion over how much power the MSU President has on that issue. Ehima agreed with the notion that the President alone cannot do anything without the power of the rest of the Union, but that more should be done in general to reduce tuition. Counterpoints from the rest of the candidates revolved around what is technically possible rather than ideological, including the tuition framework already in place for Ontario under Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA) until 2017, and whether alumni and community donations would be sufficient to reduce tuition while allowing for the rest of his planned MSU services.

“As MSU Presidential candidates, we need to talk about tuition,” Osazuwa said. “If we can talk about tuition, we can talk about anything.” 

Tristan Paul’s platform point on course intentions and planning well in advance to the summer was also received with criticism. While the designed purpose is to guarantee admission to courses of interest, the validity of this was put into question due to the tendency of some students to change their courses last-minute or how this would work in practice given the current complications with scheduling courses. Tristan countered with examples from Ryerson and Guelph, and the belief that the majority of students would be solid in their course choices and would benefit from this system.

“The way I like to think about it is student driven course registration where they can incorporate that student demand and student feedback into that course registration process,” said Paul.

While Corey’s platform point on extending class hours seemed as though it would be a significant talking point, his confidence and fact-checking on the issue proved too much. Clarifications over class schedules being decided upon by each faculty, the capabilities of manipulating the schedule into potential 80-minute blocks, wanting the scheduling board to break out of their scheduling habits, the example of Carleton’s system, and the willingness to shoot down any misconceptions or criticism all proved his ability to counter adversity with knowledgeable statements.

“I’m more than happy to pull the email out of my pocket from the register’s office that said they can do that,” said Helie-Masters, before proceeding to show Tambakis a copy of said email on his cell phone.

John Tambakis’ platform received scrutiny from all the candidates. The two questions asked pertained to his club scholarships and to the implementation of a new program for exam preparation and tutoring. Most rebuttals involved where the money would come from to fund these ideas, and what clubs or class exams would receive the most attention. He managed to answer each question with minimal backlash outside of the constant need for clarifications, though these were simply stating detailed versions of his existing platform points.

“I think this would give the chance for clubs specifically to get more money,” said Tambakis.

While the debate centered on some large topic ideas and specific platform points, these are but a small sample of what each candidate hopes to bring to the MSU Presidency. More information on each candidate is available under our MSU Elections 2015 tab and on each candidate’s website listed below. Voting is open until Jan. 29 at 5 p.m.

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