A demanding debate amongst trustees

The student trustee candidates discuss their platforms at the debate last Thursday night in the JDUC.
The student trustee candidates discuss their platforms at the debate last Thursday night in the JDUC.
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Undergraduate student trustee candidate Stephen Pariser said that the trustee is a position of influence rather than authority.
Undergraduate student trustee candidate Stephen Pariser said that the trustee is a position of influence rather than authority.
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Candidate Lauren Long said that it is necessary for the undergraduate student trustee to build relationships with the administration.
Candidate Lauren Long said that it is necessary for the undergraduate student trustee to build relationships with the administration.
Photo: 

Last Thursday the five candidates vying to be the next undergraduate student trustee debated the relevant issues in front of 30 onlookers in the JDUC.

The debate started off with an online question; “The Board of Trustees works with many senior administrators. What steps would you take to build strong relationships with the members of the Board of Trustees?”

Patrick Allin, ArtSci ’13, said that in order to build strong relationships with other Board members, the student trustee must be informed and able to talk about student issues.

“Being well-informed about issues that are pertinent to students, being able to bring these issues directly to the members of the Board of Trustees … is vital to establishing a good report and vital to establishing a two year friendship,” he said.

“They have been removed from the classroom for thirty, forty, fifty or sixty years. We are just a student. It’s very easy to discount a student on the Board.”

Lauren Long, CommSci ‘13 said that there are only three students on the Board of Trustees and only one who represents the voice of all undergraduates. Numerically that’s only 12 per cent representation of students, when student fees are 43 per cent of the operating budget.

“So, this isn’t a position of authority, rather it is a position of influence. Student voices will not be heard unless we work with the admin, unless we build partnerships with the admin,” she said adding that she has sat on committees previously with Board of Trustee members and hopes to build on her past relationships with them.

Stephen Pariser, ArtSci ‘11, said that it’s important to recognize that it’s a student trustee position.

“If they were looking for someone to go in with a lot of business experience or ideas on how to balance a budget they would go for another adult trustee,” he said also agreeing with Long that the position largely is influential rather than authoritative.

Jesse Waslowski, ArtSci ‘13, said the best thing to do is to bring stronger relationships and ask questions to engage with Board members. “The most important way to do this is by establishing personal relationships with the administration,” he said.

Andrew Witzke, ArtSci ‘12 and Comm’ 13, said he already works with many of the Board members due to his involvement in the Senate, however he also agreed with the other candidates by saying that its essential to sit down with members and have personal relationships with them.

“Another way that I hope to do this is by continuing the initiative that the current trustee started. That means going to lunch with Principal Woolf every month,” he said.

However, though the debate initially started in agreement, the candidates soon showed some differences in opinion.

Amanda Howell, chair of the education portfolio from the Social Issues Commission, asked the candidates if they had any other commitments that may impair their ability to be accessible and accountable to the undergraduate student body.

Allin said that if elected he plans to fully dedicate his time to the position, as he is only in second year. In addition, he plans to spend the summer in Kingston working.

“Senior administrators work twelve months a year. Without students on campus they have a lot more availability. So I could really work on platform development and work towards bringing issues to their attention,” he said.

Long, Pariser and Waslowski all said that they plan to be available for the next two years and hope to create open office hours for students, as well as provide information through a website.

However, Witzke said that hopes to go on an exchange during his term.

“Next winter term I hope to be going on exchange in Europe. I hope to be going on exchange hopefully to the same university that my mother went to,” he said adding that it would result him missing one of his eight meetings.

Witzke said he could meet with students through Skype while on exchange.

Pariser rebutted that not all students have Skype and that they may be intimated by asking the trustee about his personal Skype information.

“Intimidation only occurs when you exude an intimidating persona, and I don’t really think I exude an intimidating persona,” Witzke said.

The night ended with the five candidates participating in the ‘Oil Thigh,’ as a symbol for university unity.

The debate can be found online at bit.ly/2011debates.

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