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Highlights from the Surrey and Vancouver SFSS debates

Low attendance by candidates and students mark the final two SFSS debates

All smiles from Presidential candidates Deepak Sharma (left) and Darien Lechner (right).
All smiles from Presidential candidates Deepak Sharma (left) and Darien Lechner (right).
Image Credits: Nathan Ross

While the Surrey debate didn’t prove any more popular than the Burnaby debates, it did have two interesting notes that separated it from the rest.

The first was that, since platforms had been released prior, the few students who attended were able to ask more informed questions to candidates, with many taking to Twitter to have their questions asked if they couldn’t attend.

However, lack of attendance wasn’t just a problem for students — many candidates also neglected to attend the debates, as school and other commitments came first. Most absent submit statements to be read in their place, although not all of them did, which was not well received by the students in attendance.

In case you missed it, these are a few notable points that differed from the prior debates.

At-large candidate Moein Sharifi Moghaddam said he would build an SFSS app if he is elected. Current VP Student Services Darwin Binesh insisted he be held to task if elected.

• At-large candidate Alam Khehra got very focused on the amount of money spent by clubs on pizza for their meetings,  and promised to look into this.

• Many candidates advocated on behalf of Surrey students, acknowledging how left out Surrey can feel from general SFU proceedings.

• Candidates Tomas Rapaport (Science representative), John Ragone (Education representative), and Ibrahim Hafeez (VP Finance) were unable to attend, but all had statements in their place.

• Uncontested Health Science representative candidate Raajan Garcha also did not attend, and did not give any statement.

Presidential candidates Deepak Sharma and Darien Lechner stuck to their main issues of “connecting the campuses” and Build SFU respectively.

On gender parity or lack thereof in this year’s candidates, Sharma said he was proud that four of six of the total women running were on his slate, while Lechner said it was SFSS’s goal to help more women “believe in themselves.”

• Current president Enoch Weng called out Lechner for his plans on the 25 percent Build SFU levy reduction for Vancouver and Surrey students, saying changes to Build SFU contract “will default on the loan and the project will leave the society in massive debt.” Lechner said that info is contrary to what he knows, but didn’t elaborate further.

Both candidates said that if they were Disney characters, they would be Simba from The Lion King.

Otherwise, there was nothing new from the debates. Many issues were re-answered, since the debate took place on a separate campus. For coverage of past debates, you can find non-executive positions here and executive positions online.

At the Vancouver debate, engagement was minimal, with only seven out of the 24 candidates running present and only one non-candidate present in the audience. Here are some key points:

FCAT Representative Prab Bassi raised the issue of student groups not being present enough on the Surrey Campus making specific reference to the Women’s Centre and the SFSS, citing events at Surrey that have had minimal student attendance.

VP External Relations Candidate Archit Bansal was asked about looking into external sponsorship for the Build SFU project, a point included in his opponent Christine Dyson’s platform (who was not present at the debate). He noted he  would need greater student support before he were to proceed with sponsorship.

• Presidential candidate Deepak Sharma commented on the Build SFU project that had been a point of contention in previous debates. Sharma noted that Build SFU did not go to a referendum question because students would not have all the information necessary to make a decision.

The Peak asked a Twitter question from other candidate Darian Lechner on why when Sharma was VP Student Life the beverage garden at the 2015 Fall Kickoff was closed. Sharma noted that he took “direct responsibility over” it and blamed the failure on not following up with the university administration.

Sharma had choice words for other candidates. He noted that there were no candidates present from the Bridge the Gap slate, despite their pledge to “bridge the gap” between campuses. In addition, he noted that other candidates in their statements and platforms had “insulted” the Connected team as well as Sharma himself.