Blair, Li focus on student connection

Trustee candidates don’t stray from message at Thursday night debate

Mike Blair, left, and Jennifer Li at the Thursday trustee debate.
Mike Blair, left, and Jennifer Li at the Thursday trustee debate.
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Undergraduate Student Trustee candidates Mike Blair and Jennifer Li were hesitant to stray from their platforms during Thursday’s trustee debate at the JDUC.

Mike Blair mainly spoke of his experience as a student trustee for the Niagara Catholic School Board and his experience with the AMS as First Year Engineering Representative.

He emphasized his past experience in corporate governance as what makes him the better candidate for the position of Undergraduate Student Trustee. Blair also reiterated how important he thinks it is to be able to connect with students on a “grassroots” level and then bring out the collective student voice during administrative procedures.

“Being a student leader is tremendously humbling in the sense that you’re able, in fact, to be trusted with the student opinion, the student voice and understanding and connecting with people at the grassroots level is something that’s fundamentally important to me,” he said.

Blair said he intends to use social media to reach out to students and understand their needs, and he also plans to reach out to different clubs and societies on campus to gain a better understanding of the student voice.

He also said he has a lot of experience in understanding what students need and then bringing that up to the administrative level so these needs are reflected in government policy. “It would be very much exciting to get back out there and to be able to take these very complex at times, and very dry things at the Board, and really elaborate,” he said.

After the debate, Blair said he was confident in his chances in the upcoming election.

“I think the debate went really well — it was a great opportunity to connect and talk about the issues at hand, because we did cover a number of issues about finance and the student experience and risk aversion and all that,” he said.

Li referred back to her main campaign points for most of the questions in the debate, highlighting communication, quality student experience and financial aid as her main focus.

“If the board wanted financial solutions they would hire an expert,” Li said in a rebuttal to Blair.

She said it’s more important to relay the student opinion to the board than to address the finances directly.

“It is very clear the University wants student perspective when making decisions,” she said.

Li also reiterated her campaign point on greater social media presence from the trustee to keep students aware and have them virtually join in on the discussions on the Board.

“Advocacy in numbers is stronger than advocacy as an individual,” she said in discussing how she plans to work with other student leaders. She added that she plans to attend various faculty society meetings to get an idea of what students and student leaders want to see from her.

The primary question that separated the two candidates was how they would deal with advocating against something they thought was unethical on the board.

Li said she’d stay true to the students she represents and, rather than act based on a personal opinion, she’d want to consult with the students beforehand to ensure she could take into account the diverse perspectives of the student body.

In her closing statement, Li got emotional when addressing her campaign manager and the volunteers who’ve helped her.

“If elected, I know I’d be able to perform to the best of my ability in order to have the changes in the board reflect what students want,” she said.

Get to know the Undergraduate Student Trustee candidates

Read the Journal's profile of Mike Blair here.

Read the Journal's profile of Jennifer Li here.

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