EngSoc candidates debate key issues for upcoming year

Presidential, vice-presidential candidates share plans for an accessible, streamlined Society  

EngSoc candidates debate key issues for upcoming year
The debate happened Thursday night over Zoom.

Students running for the coveted positions of President and Vice-President of Student Affairs (VPSA) in the Engineering Society (EngSoc) competed in a virtual debate Thursday night, held over Zoom. 

As the presidency is uncontested, candidate Christina Bisol addressed students in a Q&A setting, while the four candidates for VPSA went head-to-head in a lengthy debate. 

Candidates were asked questions about collaborating with other executive members in the Society, increasing accessibility, and improving hiring processes. 


The evening began with Bisol’s opening statement, wherein she described her excitement to run and outlined her experience within the EngSoc over the course of her degree. 

“We have an opportunity to resurrect from these difficult times,” Bisol said. “An opportunity to move forward into a more equitable era.”

Bisol was first asked to describe actionable items for each of her campaign pillars—equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), transitioning to safe in-person operations, and improving accessibility. Her response revolved around conversations with equitable groups, general advocacy for student needs, and collaborating events into one area to make resources more accessible to first-year students. 

The theme of collaboration continued, as Bisol said she plans to consult closely with the vice-presidents in any and all decision making. 

“For the decision making of the Society, I believe my VPs should be heavily involved in the process, including the Director who oversees that area of the decision,” Bisol said. 

She said, though conflict may arise between her and the VPs, she will do her best to maintain a positive atmosphere and attitude. She also spoke of open communication between herself and her fellow executives as her goal for next year. 

Bisol referenced the importance of the upcoming transition period when asked how she will be the best representative possible. 

“I believe a lot of the preparation to handle the technical and non-technical aspects of this portfolio will be handled during the transition,” Bisol said. “I plan to absorb as much information as possible in these next four months.” 

Vice-President (Student Affairs)

In their opening statements, candidates Brian Seo, Sylvie Asija, Kaija Edwards, and Rein Tiisler outlined their extracurricular and leadership positions within the EngSoc and why they decided to run for VPSA. 

Seo described the position as “the heart and soul of EngSoc” and “the vessel through which EngSoc can thrive.” Edwards and Asija used the opening three minutes to immediately delve into their platforms, while Tiisler chose to open with humour. 

“Thank you to the other candidates for being here,” Tiisler said. “This debate would not be very interesting without you.” 

The candidates quickly got into the issues. Accessibility and improving hiring processes were key themes of the night, and each candidate approached them differently. 

“An accessible EngSoc is a place where everyone is welcome, but also a place where hard conversations can happen in a safe manner,” Seo said. “We are a progressive organization, and there is no place for hate or discrimination.”

Edwards took questions regarding accessibility as an opportunity to discuss the Accessible Spaces Fund, which she outlined in her platform. The money would go toward removing physical barriers to accessibility, such as creating a gender-neutral washroom in the ILC. 

Asija continued the conversation about the accessibility of the ILC building, and how daunting the environment can be for first-year students. This topic of conversation was raised multiple times throughout the evening. 

“The ILC student lounge is for everybody, not just Engineering Society position holders,” Asija said. “We need to break down these barriers, especially for incoming frosh who don’t know anyone else. Nobody should feel like they don’t belong.”

All candidates agreed that the hiring process could be daunting for first-year students looking to get involved with the EngSoc. 

Seo described the process as standardized and formal, with little room for any natural conversation to take place. 

“One thing I found was it was difficult for some students, especially those in first year, to get acclimated to this new environment when answering questions,” Seo said. “I would work on changing the policy to give more structural freedom to carry things on as a conversation.” 

When asked how they would handle conflict, Tiisler described the key aspect in conflict resolution to be empathy. 

“It’s you two working together to solve the problem, not you two working against each other,” Tiisler said.

“We’re engineers at the end of the day. Problem solving is in our job description.”

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