Not much to debate

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By Jen Gerson

One wears a t-shirt, one wears a tie, but this year’s RyeSAC presidential candidates seem to be saying the same thing. Last year presidential candidate Dave MacLean ran on a slate ideologically opposed to current President Ken Marciniec, but this year both sides are focusing on Ryerson issues and fighting for the promised tuition freeze.

While in his last campaign MacLean denounced RyeSAC’s activism, this year his running-mate Derek Isber, candidate for vice president finance and services, said that he would support the initiatives of the Canadian Federation of Students and the effort to keep tuition fees frozen. This stance did not sit well with his opponent.

“You’re talking out of your ass,” responded Nick Gauthier, Isber’s challenger. “Where were you when we were lobbying in front of Queen’s Park? … You didn’t do the work, we did … You haven’t even put on a button.”

Following the outburst, the chief returning officer reminded the candidates to keep personal attacks to themselves. Despite the warning, Gauthier continued to gripe and was quietly heckled by the audience during his closing remarks.

Gauthier is presidential candidate Carlos Flores’ running mate alongside Nora Loreto, who is running for vice president of student life and events and Rebecca Rose, who is running for vice president education. Loreto’s opponent Cristina Ribeiro, Isber and vice president education candidate Dani Marino are running with presidential candidate MacLean.

MacLean’s camp was expected to focus their campaign on Ryerson-specific concerns, rather than bringing up lobbying issues and activism. Though Marino admitted the tuition freeze “wasn’t a priority” during question period, the mandates of all of the candidates seemed virtually the same.

All plan on putting the new student centre to good use when it opens early next school year and all are promising to increase funding for student groups and course unions to improve student life.

Loreto said that she would increase their budget by 25 per cent, a figure that Flores backed. But MacLean and several members of the audience asked Flores to provide the figures to show where the money would come from.

As questioning continued, it was obvious that both sides planted questions in the audience.

“It’s called being organized. That’s how we win,” said RyeSAC President Ken Marciniec.

Loreto took heat from an audience member who called her opponent Ribeiro “the obvious choice.”

“I’m kind of insulted at not being the obvious choice,” responded Loreto. Being in first year, Loreto is the youngest of the candidates and the most inexperienced. She said this makes her an asset because she “can’t screw up next year and take off.”

Gauthier differentiated himself from his opponent by promising to make the lounge in the student centre a safe and comfortable place for commuting students to hang out.

He also promised a breakfast and juice bar.

MacLean’s camp focused on building on Ryerson’s existing services and improving upon the advances made by the current RyeSAC executive.

They also want to improve the university’s reputation and how potential employees view a Ryerson education.

“When I see your campaign is building on what other students have done, I wonder about that,” Gauthier said.

MacLean responded by saying “We actually have a platform rather than just doing the same thing … We have a wall of debt, let’s get a wall of student life.”

MacLean said he felt better about this debate than last year’s when his opponents and members of the audience nailed him for abstaining on a vote to oppose the war in Iraq and for endorsing an anti-abortion student group.

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