ResSoc executive debate recap

Teams discuss student awareness and innovation in residence

The ResSoc debate took place in the lobby of Victoria Hall on Jan. 20. 
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At a debate in Victoria Hall on Sunday, the Residence Society’s two candidate teams—Team NOM and Team SBB—discussed how to address student awareness and enable greater residence services.

Both teams are running candidates for president, vice-president of residence affairs (VPRA), and vice-president of judicial affairs (VPJA).

Team NOM consists of Madison Scott, running for president, Natasha Sharma for VPRA, and Oliver Flis for VPJA. Sharma, who was unable to attend the debate, was represented by Smith House co-worker Evan Trus. On Team SBB, Sam Belbin is running for the presidential position, Bo Chen for VPRA, and Brandon Tyrrell for VPJA.

During NOM’s opening statements, Scott touched on plans to organize better events in collaboration with Residence Life (ResLife), implement a Peer Support program, and increase student involvement by creating first-year paid positions and focus groups.

She also noted her team’s commitment to widening the Society’s focus and supporting all residents, including international and graduate students.

For SBB, Belbin outlined creating a professional counsellor position within residence and further developing the Residence Initiative Grant—which currently supports departments and student-led groups that aim to enhance student life in residence.

Additionally, Chen shared plans to improve residence study spaces, using the student-focused renovations at Mac-Corry Hall to illustrate the need for better lighting, more outlets, and additional tables and seating. He also mentioned the potential development of an app “that will help [bring] students and staff together to communicate events, programs, dining hall hours, cafeteria news, menus, [and more].”

Study space renovations and app development remained the team’s focus when the executive hopefuls were asked what their top three priorities were over the summer months. While NOM proposed spearheading health and wellness initiatives during the break, both teams recognized the importance of clarifying ambiguous community standards before the fall.

When asked what roles the candidates saw ResSoc taking in residence and the overall university in future years, Scott used the opportunity to reference NOM’s plan to strengthen ties with ResLife.

Belbin asked NOM how they plan to build a connection to ResLife without previous experience within the organization.

While Scott confirmed her team has limited experience with ResLife, she said she considers it an “advantage.” She believes her work with ResSoc has provided intel on the issues between the two organizations. Scott also referenced her current role as a House President, citing her collaboration with ResLife for Rock Dunder and trivia events.

Later in the night, the teams were asked how they’d create more awareness of first year opportunities in residence. For SBB, Chen proposed creating posters and table toppers, and renovating spaces to include TVs that would display upcoming events, promotions, and jobs.

Flis asked his opponents how they plan to deliver on these commitments, given how costly such renovations would be. Acknowledging the importance of this question, Chen explained his team aims to use the capital expenditure fund of ResLife and ResSoc. 

“That money is actually set forth specifically for renovating spaces in residence and it’s something that actually hasn’t been used for the past few years,” Chen said. “It’s something we hope to use next year to do things such as renovate [the Victoria Hall lobby]. There’s more than enough money to do so.” 

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