SGPS debate sees little conflict or attendance

Roughly 10 people came to the debate, underscoring question about student engagement

From left: Chris Cochrane, Lorne Beswick, Mark Kellenberger, Dinah Jansen, Azeem Manghat and Mark Asfar.
From left: Chris Cochrane, Lorne Beswick, Mark Kellenberger, Dinah Jansen, Azeem Manghat and Mark Asfar.
Photo: 
Presidential candidate Chris Cochrane.
Presidential candidate Chris Cochrane.
Photo: 

Monday’s SGPS debate lasted only two hours, seeing very little argument between candidates.

Roughly 10 people were in attendance, including outgoing SGPS president Kevin Wiener, who had to leave early to attend class. The debate was mediated by Peter Charbonneau, the SGPS’s Chief Returning Officer.

Running for President is Chris Cochrane; for VP Campaigns and Community Affairs, Lorne Beswick; for VP Finance and Services, Christina Huber; for VP Graduate, Mark Kellenberger and Dinah Jansen; and for VP Professional, Mark Asfar and Azeem Manghat.

Huber was unable to make it to the debate until 6 p.m. because of prior engagements.

The debate began with each candidate’s opening statement, in which most of the candidates touched on mental health, student engagement and connection between each of the schools within the SGPS.

Kellenberger specifically cited the turnout of the debate — and past voter turnout that has been as low as eight per cent — as a reason for the importance of drawing more student attention to the operations of the SGPS.

When asked about the shortcomings of the 2014-15 SGPS Executive, Kellenberger said the SGPS had failed at mental health advocacy for graduate students.

Jansen, the VP Graduate incumbent, said “failures of the past SGPS” was too strong of a way to word the question. She added that the current SGPS has worked extremely hard on mental health issues and is always open to new ideas.

One question that was addressed from the audience was how the candidates planned to fulfill their responsibilities during the summer months. All candidates but Manghat and Huber said they plan to stay in Kingston for the summer. Manghat and Huber said they’ll find a way to stay in constant communication with the rest of the executive while away from Kingston.

When asked how he’ll fulfill his seemingly large projects, such as suit fitting for professional students, Asfar said he’s already begun laying down the ground work of his campaign promises.

Asfar also sided against fraternities and sororities on campus when answering a question from the audience, saying that he doesn’t see them as a positive goal for the community.

This article has been updated to reflect the following corrections: The candidates were asked about the failings of the SGPS Executive, not the Council.

Manghat and Huber said they'd find a way to stay in touch with the rest of the executive, not the rest of the council.

The Journal regrets the errors.

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