By Fabian Mayer, February 23 2016 —
The three vice-president external candidates for this year’s Students’ Union election faced off at a forum in MacHall before an audience of roughly 50 students.
Each candidate spoke at length about eliminating the loopholes that allow tuition increases beyond the rate of inflation, as well as advocating for provincial mental health funding.
Martin Cruz focused part of his platform on ensuring student desires are represented in the SU’s lobbying as part of the Council of Alberta University Students.
“We need to ensure what we’re bringing [to CAUS] is what students actually want,” Cruz said.
Tristan Bray is running for the second consecutive year after losing the vote by one per cent last year. He stressed the opportunities new provincial and federal governments bring.
“Now is the time to really pressure both governments for student-friendly policies because we have student-friendly governments,” Bray said.
Jen Tokarek also referenced the provincial NDP government. She argued the SU should strive to have a good relationship with the province.
“I don’t want to antagonize the government. We have a government that’s willing to listen to us right now and I want to start off on a good foot with them,” Tokarek said.
Second-year psychology student Evan Jovanovic was getting food in MacHall when he stopped to watch the forum.
“They all impressed me in their own ways. They’re clearly all intelligent people who know what they’re talking about,” Jovanovic said.
Jovanovic was still undecided following the forum.
“I want to look over their platforms and what they’re really saying they want to do, before I make a decision,” Jovanovic said.
However, Jovanovic did say he was impressed by Martin Cruz’s experience and knowledge of the issues.
The forum included a speed round where candidates were asked about facts they would need to know as vice-president external. The first candidate to raise their hand got the first chance at answering each question. Cruz answered the most correctly with three, followed by Tokarek with two and Bray with one.
One of the most interesting portions of the event came during audience questions. A questioner confronted Bray about his fraternity placing a pig’s head on a rival fraternity’s lawn each year.
Bray claimed the act is a tradition and said he believes there remains room for inter-fraternal rivalry at on campus.