ASUS executive candidates assert differences at debate

Despite similar platform objectives, teams clash over mental health and academic advocacy

Brendan Goodman, left, and Jon Wiseman, one of two teams running for ASUS executive.
Brendan Goodman, left, and Jon Wiseman, one of two teams running for ASUS executive.
Photo: 
Andrew DiCapua, left, and Brandon Jamieson are running for ASUS executive.
Andrew DiCapua, left, and Brandon Jamieson are running for ASUS executive.
Photo: 
The ASUS executive debate was held in the lower ceilidh of the JDUC.
The ASUS executive debate was held in the lower ceilidh of the JDUC.
Photo: 

At the ASUS executive debate Wednesday night, the two teams clashed over issues ranging from mental health to experience in ASUS.

When asked what the strongest part of their platform was, both teams — Jon Wiseman and Brendan Goodman, both ArtSci ’16, and Brandon Jamieson and Andrew DiCapua, both ArtSci ’17 — took very different stances, despite having many similar objectives.

Wiseman and Goodman put heavy emphasis on their plan to provide in-house mental health and counselling services for ASUS students, which they said is necessary to accommodate the increased student load on Health, Counselling and Disability Services (HCDS).

Both teams have an in-house mental health and counselling service included in their platform.

When pressed on how they would pay for and set up this service, Jamieson and DiCapua said there would be no issue finding funding for the service, adding that grants and bursaries would cover the cost.

Wiseman and Goodman told the audience they’d developed their plan to provide the service through consultation with Rector Mike Young and ASUS Equity Commissioner Lucy Mackrell.

Both teams said they would rely heavily on HCDS to help them set up the in-house service, as well as to hire counselors and staff.

Wiseman delivered a concise statement to close off the evening, re-affirming his determination to serve students and reinvigorate ASUS using his institutional knowledge.

“The positions of Vice-President and President are not entry-level positions,” he said.

The two teams clashed over their understanding of mental health at one point, with Wiseman accusing rival presidential candidate Jamieson of having made a joke about binge eating during an interview for Vogue Charity Fashion Show’s (VCFS) blog.

Jamieson said the comment, in which he allegedly stated he baked cookies and ate them to de-stress, was deliberately taken out of context. The comment has since been removed from VCFS’s blog.

“I would hope that it’s not necessary to engage in personal attacks to make a point,” Jamieson told the Journal after the debate.

Jamieson and DiCapua said the Personal Interest Credit, which they say would allow students to be better rounded in their studies without fear of failure, was their favourite goal for the upcoming year.

They also said ASUS’s greatest weakness is a lack of focus on academic advocacy. After Wiseman, the current ASUS Commissioner of Internal Affairs, responded that the faculty does a lot more than academics, citing ASUS Camps and faculty jackets, Jamieson insisted that this needed to be the faculty’s central role.

“I hope I don’t need to remind the commissioner that the first line of the society’s mandate states it is an academic lobbying body,” he said.

In the team’s closing statement, DiCapua said it’s hard for them to come in from an external position when dealing with a society where people move up the ranks.

"Leadership is about potential, not experience,” Jamieson added.

2013-14 ASUS Vice-President Irfan Tahiri said he felt much more pressure was put on the candidates compared to when he debated Allison Williams and Zaeem Anwar in 2013, noting the change in location to the much more public lower ceilidh of the JDUC, as well as consistent online criticism.

“The political wolves came out for meat. [The candidates] should be very proud,” Tahiri said. “If I was them, I’d be shaking in my boots.”

Tahiri also noted the extensive online participation, and singled out members of the Queen’s community.

“Everyone on Twitter was way too hard on them,” he said. “Nik Lopez: get a life. You can quote me on that.”

This article has been updated to reflect the following correction: Jon Wiseman accused rival presidential candidate Brandon Jamieson of having made a joke about binge eating during an interview, not Brendan Goodman. Goodman did not make the accusation.

The Journal regrets the error.

Get to know the ASUS executive candidates

Read the Journal's profile of Jon Wiseman and Brendan Goodman here.

Read the Journal's profile of Brandon Jamieson and Andrew DiCapua here.

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