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And we continue…

March 20th, 2010

I liveblogged the rest of the presidential debate once Eric had to leave. I’ll admit, mine is a little less in depth… but alas, I am not Eric Snow.

And we continue…

As Eric mentioned, Will Demers questions how Greg (and then reluctantly included the other two candidates) will combat the aura of arrogance that comes with the role of the presidency (or something to that effect… I think I somehow found his question in the midst of HIS arrogance. He decided to soapbox his distaste for the current President in a completely unprofessional manner.)

Greg says that the stagnant air among the student body is the issue. Students have no reason to get involved and therefore chose not to. The executive are inaccessible in their offices (damn, those pesky stairs and elevators!).

Chris never tries to make decisions on his own and looks for input. All university students are leaders with valuable insights and he hopes that students see that he wants to talk to people. He doesn’t want to close himself off or give an aura of arrogance, he’s working for students, not for himself.

Bailey says that transparency is essential and he’s quite serious when he says he’ll hold office hours outside the 9-5. Essentially, he’ll walk the walk and get to know people – he wants to appreciate the students. If you care, they’ll care. “Nothing can replace caring.”

Rebuttal…

Greg says that we get rid of the arrogance by being human. His girlfriend is witness to his random encounters with random students.

Chris believes he’ll bring a certain humanity to the office. That’s why he’s here.

Neil thought he already had a rebuttal. He thinks that a good leader can avoid arrogance by realizing that the power you have comes from the people.

Mike Cadeskey didn’t ask a question.

A female student asks the following… “I’m a member of a competitive society and I’ve seen our success be hindered by lack of funds. How can we let our societies reach their full potential without the proper funding?” (or something to this effect)

Chris: There is a lot of funding available to students that they don’t know about. (That’s pretty much all he said throughout the entire two minutes)

Neil: I think there are a lot of opportunities already available for funding and the DSU needs to be better in sharing this information. Communication errors are fundamental to fixing this issue. I’m not sure how to discuss more money in the future. Inspiration and passion can build the foundation here so we can fund and support these ideas. Short term communication is key!

Greg asks what kind of society she is in and how much she needs. He says he needs to know more about the situation to answer the question. He says that if you just need a few hundred bucks, he’ll cut councils budget for you. If you need more than that, he’ll build a business within the union where a) students shovel driveways to raise money for your society or b) overall society drives “kinda like whatever that thing is called… Shinerama or whatever” downtown because we should do it for all societies, not just Shinerama.

Rebuttal…

Chris says that a lot of major Ontario Universities get sponsorship from the community and maybe we could work towards a sponsorship program like that.

Neil says we have a sense of entitlement and focus disproportionately on going away and looking outside the local. We are going off to do AIDS work in Africa but we have issues here too! Homeless people live in Halifax too!

Greg says Neil is off topic. Instead we should cut budgets or start student labour.

Rob  Leforte asks about the DFA and potential for a faculty strike on campus and how the future presidential would handle it.

Neil is clearly caught off guard. He has taught English as a second language before so maybe he could step in (oh ha ha!). This is a problem that he would adamantly attack before it got to this point.

Greg would take a student survey to find out who the bad guys are in this scenario. He would promote students getting in front of the Hicks and supporting the faculty. The government doesn’t want protest, the Administration doesn’t either. (No one wants chaos so chaos is the answer!)

Chris says that if it gets to this point, he would ensure students can continue to learn and discuss with TAs and upper level students so they could coordinate tutoring sessions.

Rebuttal…

Neil definitely, obviously, would call a meeting. He would get together with the people you’re connected to and would come up with a solution.

Greg basically said if his first option didn’t work, he would let someone else decide how to handle it.

Chris would look to create a smooth negotiation process.

A gentleman from the audience asked about the negative stereotypes that surround fraternities and how the future president may attempt to combat that and work with the fraternities.

I think Greg just said Hobbs has no friends. He said that Hobbs has a secret fraternity with a few people… or something like that. Then he said “I’m sorry, brother, fraternities are no different because they get ignored by the DSU because they don’t wanna deal with you. That’s my two cents.”

Chris says that he’s surrounded by people in fraternities, he’s seen the work they do and it is good work. He wants to work with them.

[At this point, I had to run to the bathroom... so Kris Osmond recapped Bailey's response.]

Neil doesn’t know much about them specifically, but the negative stereotypes aren’t necessarily true anymore and if they’re working hard in charitable ways – they should be more engaged with the DSU.

Emily Rideout asked a question about Sustainability, but Kris was eating nachos and forgot to remember. I’ll write about the rebuttal which I witnessed. (Sorry Emily!)

Chris says he’s excited about a green audit of the SUB by Sustainability Office with the University. He wants to act on these recommendations.

Neil says that we can’t treat sustainability as an achievement or a goal to be “more sustainable”. It’s about being sustainable period. Sustainability is about ensuring that our world can support itself.

Greg says that we need power! we need electricity! we need paper!

Closing remarks…

Greg says that he’s fearless. He has no problem in crowds. He’s shameless. He has no problem walking up to complete strangers. His Econ prof is here so he obviously knows what he’s doing. He’s been doing this for four years, and to date, he is the only candidate to keep his election promise: to run consistently until he sees change.

Chris doesn’t want to think about the hours he’s put into student issues. He hasn’t been on the stage yelling, he’s been in the background doing. He has perfect attendance at council and has an 8 page platform. He wants you to give him a chance to accomplish what he wants to do.

Neil thanks everyone for being here. Truly. Really. Truly he had no idea he’d be here. He really believes the outgoing exec has done a great job but the issues aren’t always about who is involved but more how we involve ourselves. He truly has complete faith in Dalhousie being the best university in Canada. He really knows about the fundamentals of constitutions, planning and he promises to work his ass off to be your president. He truly does not feel entitled and is absolutely thankful to be here right now.

The debate ends cordially and the candidates shake hands and exit the stage. Sadly, Debo did not proceed to down shots of Grey Goose followed by the chugging of a Corona.

- – -

Saulnier, the consistent politician, answered each question with formulaic response incorporating as many traditional election promises as possible. Minutes, sustainability, communication, tireless action, engagement, service improvement and hardwork – you know, the usual. I didn’t hear anything from him that  I hadn’t already heard from Zimmerman, Larkin, Tipping…. you get the idea.

Bailey is an honest man. REALLY. He “truly”, “really”, “honestly”, “absolutely” means everything he says. His answers were up front. He also seemed to blend the ideas of the two other candidates (a radical/rational actor, if y0u will). It didn’t feel like he did a lot of research for this but he does say thank you a lot, so kudos for politeness. I will add that I like his suggestion of incorporating an academic hub into the master plan for campus.

Originally, I thought Debogorski had a pretty solid platform this year. He looked like he had put some time and effort into his campaign for once. After hearing him speak, however, I have realized he has no idea how the union is run or how it can be operated in the future. Cut budgets to give random student societies money? (Aren’t those called grants?) Enlist student labour to increase revenue? Monthly online referenda to “unbog” council’s agenda? Hand delivering letters of interest to random students? … Is this some kind of Canadian joke, sir?

Saulnier’s demeanor was extremely professional and in even rebuttal, he was polite and conscious of the ideas and answers of the other candidates. He handled himself quite well. Bailey was earnest, approachable and jovial on stage – often making jokes with a big smile on his face. Debogorski was nothing short of abrupt and rude. He left the stage in the middle of another candidate’s response,  raised his eyebrows and made faces while other candidate’s were speaking, spoke back to the moderator and leaned against the wall with his arms folded. None of this screams “approachable” or “accessible” to me.

I, personally, didn’t learn anything yesterday I didn’t already know: Saulnier is professional and will maintain the status quo, Bailey is candid and but has a few fresh ideas, and Debogorski remains demonstrative and aggressive.

- -

Just to add “my two cents”, as both Snow and Debo would say, I took some serious offense to one of the remarks made yesterday during the debate. Debogorski called our Student Union “a joke”, and although Saulnier disagreed, Bailey made a remark to the likes of “the Union is sort of a joke”.

A joke? Really? I understand that not every student knows exactly what the union does  and maybe not everyone frequents the SUB, but we are far from a joke. We’re a committed core of passionate and involved students eager to create a better life for Dalhousie students. I’m appalled that two of the three candidates running for PRESIDENT would even make light of a title such as “joke” being labelled to their potential future.

Yes, the Union may need work and yes, more students could certainly be involved, but come on, man. I get the idea of wanting to make change, but have a little pride. You didn’t see Obama out there spouting “Yo, America is a shithole.” then trying to change it.

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  1. Gregory Debogorski
    March 20th, 2010 at 12:06 | #1

    Ok, this site is getting really bad.
    hahahahahaha
    no wonder students don’t come out.
    no wonder our union IS a joke.
    I am sorry that so many such as Sarah & Snow are disillusioned.
    Just because we have an institution that coercively perpetuates itself on the back of student fees year after year, does not mean that it is not a joke. If students had the option to opt out of the union, insiders would be singing another tune entirely. I believe there wouldn’t be any insiders

  2. Gregory Debogorski
    March 20th, 2010 at 12:11 | #2

    Sarah-
    Protip: take yourself out of the context of your current social group if you wish to see the true state of affairs around you. There is a sociology term that evades my memory, but essentially the insiders have created so much of their identity on their “political” endeavors on campus that it is destroying the systems they operate.

    I also believe that this is why you band so tightly together in a “blocking coalition” when it comes time for elections. Further, group-think deteriorates an individuals intelligents & creativity.

  3. They’ve Adapted!
    March 20th, 2010 at 12:30 | #3

    Holy crap! He learned to copy and paste! God help us all.

  4. Male John Doe
    March 20th, 2010 at 13:24 | #4

    You campaign for your audience. When you’re trying to convince young’uns you can run a student union you get to use informal language you couldn’t really get away with if you were trying to get crusty old people to let you run a country.

    If you keep in mind that the only (obviously DSU-provided) service most students use is the health plan, is it any surprise that they might see the DSU as a bloated, bureaucratic, self-important joke?

  5. Eric Snow
    March 20th, 2010 at 13:38 | #5

    @Male John Doe

    Ever gotten a coffee at Tim Horton’s in the SUB? Gone for a beer at the Grawood or the T-Room? Been involved with a society, any society? Gotten a lift from Tiger Patrol? Those are just a handful of the services that the DSU provides that people use every single day.

    Those are just the tangibles. When you look at intangibles like advocacy, you have major wins on student issues with the university and the government. Just looking at this year: we’re in year 2 of the Memorandum of Understanding that freezes tuition and lowers it for Nova Scotia students, we’re going to have co-curricular transcripts in the near future, there will be a fall break during the 2010/2011 academic year, late night study spaces that is accessible to all students has been created, and piles of other issues in various stages from policy development to implementation.

    I’m barely scratching the surface here. If anything about the DSU is a joke, it’s the communication. Because students just don’t know about a lot of these services.

    This is the part where I wait for the “Yeah, but…”

  6. Hohn Jillman
    March 20th, 2010 at 13:42 | #6

    I think I may have been watching an entirely different campaign this past week than some of my fellow pundits.

    Then again, perhaps that’s why Mike has me here, outsider perspective and all.

    I understand that some readers are upset that there is very little counter-opinion coming out here, but I assure you that you’ll get it in the very near future — you just have to be a little bit patient.

    I’ll be posting my thoughts soon. If anyone wonders why I’ve been so quiet, it’s this frigging video business. Currently trying to upload two hours worth of debate footage. Once it’s uploaded, I have to chop it into bits that will fit on Youtube. Then I have to go through the wonderful experience that is uploading each one. Not very fun. I think I’ll be sticking with short videos from here on out.

  7. March 20th, 2010 at 14:06 | #7

    You recorded what I said, so perhaps you should be citing that, rather than providing us with your ever-slanted impressions. I said it was unfortunate that the current President had showed such prejudice and impartiality as moderator. I also thanked Neil and Greg for their desire to see autonomous societies on campus. As I have been an executive member of the UGHS, DKC and D.U.W.S., I appreciated their comments. Thought Chris spoke well, and my question was aimed at all three of them, from the outset.

  8. Eric Snow
    March 20th, 2010 at 14:06 | #8

    @Hohn Jillman

    I’m looking forward to it, sir.

  9. Hohn Jillman
    March 20th, 2010 at 14:11 | #9

    I’m currently in the process of putting the video online, but Sarah has no access to it. People will be able to watch it for themselves once it is up, which should only be about five hundred or so more head smashes against this desk later.

  10. Male John Doe
    March 20th, 2010 at 14:11 | #10

    Read what I said again. “Obviously DSU-provided” and “most students.” I realize those are kind of hazy and vague phrases, but:

    Societies: there are plenty of student groups (not societies, they’re not ratified, and if you call them student societies it makes the VPI cry) that have no affiliation to the DSU at all. I suspect the faculty level societies would keep on trucking too. The levied societies… I’m not going to dredge up the ghost of last year and whether NSPIRG affects most students. Regardless, I don’t think most people think of the totally obvious contribution of the DSU when they think of DASSS. I suspect a lot of societies only ratify because that’s what you do (and because you can score an easy $100 from the DSU.)

    Bars and coffee: I wouldn’t list the Grawood as a pro. It’s a shitty bar that’s frequently a ghost town, and isn’t it still hemorrhaging money? Great service, thanks DSU. I don’t go to the T-Room either, and I suspect neither do most non-engineering/nursing students, or people who don’t live near Sexton. If I’m going to drag my ass downtown, I’m dragging it to a real bar. It’s nicer than the Grawood though. Coffee gets grudging acceptance as a valid example… although all the DSU is doing is offering building space. Congrats. If that wasn’t there students might have to walk a block down to the CS building, or two blocks up to Coburg, or over to the LSC (or down to the IWK) if they’re feeling dedicated to Tim’s. Yes people use that, and yes it’s clearly provided by the DSU, but if you’re trumpeting “WE HOST SOME CORPORATE COFFEE PLACE” you’re doing it wrong.

    Tiger Patrol: Joint DSU/Dal project, and realistically if the DSU vanished tomorrow Dal would keep it running on its own. As if they could let a safe ride program shut down… while I definitely agree it’s a valuable service I don’t think it falls under “most students” either.

    The funny thing is, the intangibles are far more compelling arguments for the DSU being awesome. The advocacy is great, but nobody sees that. When they get another break, another study space, it’s not obvious it comes from the DSU.

    So yeah. You’re not making students care about the intangibles, and there’s no reason to care about the utterly unimpressive tangibles.

    Ooh, ooh, I wanna play too: This is the part where I wait for the “Yeah you’re right, I’m sorry :(“

  11. Eric Snow
    March 20th, 2010 at 14:44 | #11

    @Male John Doe

    That was a “yeah, but…” post. And I’m not going to apologize, especially when you’re proving my point:

    “I don’t think most people think of the totally obvious contribution of the DSU when they think of DASSS.”

    “The advocacy is great, but nobody sees that. When they get another break, another study space, it’s not obvious it comes from the DSU.”

    “You’re not making students care about the intangibles”

    Yes. Communication. Like I said. Moving on…

    I wasn’t aware that Just Us, which is also a service provided through the DSU, was “SOME CORPORATE COFFEE PLACE”. In any case, Tim Horton’s gets way more patronage anyway, so I find it hard to see that as a negative thing if it’s both what students want and what the DSU is providing (the societal implications are another discussion).

    The Grawood has it’s points. $4 fish and chips specials are a great one if you’re looking for a cheap meal. The food is pretty good, and a lot of times it’s affordable. It also is actually a really good bar on the nights when it draws big crowds (like Saint Paddy’s Day earlier this week, with lines outside the door the whole day). And if you think the T-Room only sees engineers and nursing students (which it doesn’t), what’s wrong with that? It’s still a service to those students.

    Societies is easily your weakest point. The DSU is the source for administration, accountability, information, financial disbursements, audits, additional funding through grants and other key things that provide the backbone of our system. On top of that, there’s space. Not all societies get dedicated space (though some, such as NSPIRG as you mentioned, do), but they do have the opportunity to book space in the building, something which is (in my experience) nigh impossible in some other locations on campus for student groups. These are not inconsiderable contributions.

    Would student involvement die without the DSU? Probably not. But it would be set back a few decades, have either no funding or little, poorly managed funding, and would have no place to set up shop except where the university admin deems appropriate.

    Ignoring all this, though, I’m waiting for the part where you say what the DSU should be offering.

    You know what the funniest part is for me? I don’t use the health plan, and I think I’m one of many students who opts out. I still see plenty of value in the Union, both in the services I use and those that are designed for others.

  12. Gregory Debogorski
    March 20th, 2010 at 18:13 | #12

    “Ever gotten a coffee at Tim Horton’s in the SUB? Gone for a beer at the Grawood or the T-Room? Been involved with a society, any society? Gotten a lift from Tiger Patrol? Those are just a handful of the services that the DSU provides that people use every single day.”
    Just because students get treated as “custy’s” doesn’t mean they are getting involved. Counter Example: If I buy a McDonald’s hamburger, does that mean I am involved in their corporate affairs beyond them making money off me. Also, $1.9million is a heavy price to paying just for those services. There has to be efficiency gains that are not being improved upon. Stop the stagnant status quo for all members of the union. Get us involved, voting, debating…acting on our personal interests according to laissez faire. Let us receive what we want; let us demand within the limits of our resources. If I spent a year sitting at council, I would of already calculated a number of economic budget constraints to exhibit what our limits and “real” options are.
    Those are just the tangibles. When you look at intangibles like advocacy, you have major wins on student issues with the university and the government. Just looking at this year: we’re in year 2 of the Memorandum of Understanding that freezes tuition and lowers it for Nova Scotia students, we’re going to have co-curricular transcripts in the near future, there will be a fall break during the 2010/2011 academic year, late night study spaces that is accessible to all students has been created, and piles of other issues in various stages from policy development to implementation.
    Advocacy is a qualitative tangible; the deciding factor is student opinion. Yes or no. There exist grey areas, but I am not going to give you a lesson in statistics. I’d have to go get my old textbook for that. I do know, with a 15 minute glance at the book, I could tell you exactly how many students we have to poll to say students do or do not feel their union advocates on them. The difficulty would come from actually surveying the binary question in a random way. How do you get your sample population to “voice” there opinion when the selected sample has the ability not to be sampled? How does this affect achieving a poll intended to be 90% confident?
    Do we have any statisticians or “smarter than me” people reading punditry?
    People have a problem with my claim that I do not have all the answers, but someone else does. The strategic apex of an organisation strives to create a conducive environment for optimal production. In other words, executive duty is accorded to their shareholders. Oh wow! Or shareholders are the very customers it serves. This is obvious. I do not see why it is ignored. Your argument completely hinges on the DSU is doing its job effectively; mine is that it is not, and this is what it should be doing instead (see choppy platform @debogorski.ca for proposed solutions).

  13. March 20th, 2010 at 18:20 | #13

    A key thing Eric missed about the benefits provided to societies is a non-obvious one: insurance, for both bodily injury and property damage. If you hold an event, and some guy slips, breaks his arm, and sues, you have protection. If you serve food and people get sick, you have protection. If you hold an event and destroy property (e.g, one in three Geekbeers), you are covered. I’m neither an insurance or legal expert, but I suspect the university would be within its rights to bar any uninsured event from happening on campus. These policies are expensive, and provided to ratified societies free of charge. There’s even the option to insure your office contents!

    Of course the downside of insurance is that the provider can dictate some conditions – “society policy” is now an old enough policy that it doesn’t draw red-hot anger any more, but man did it ever when they first made the changes.

  14. Zhindra Gillis
    March 20th, 2010 at 18:28 | #14

    @Mike Smit
    Agreed. We had a huge event off campus (Pulling For the Kids) and the DSU provided us help with the event insurance.

  15. Gregory Debogorski
    March 20th, 2010 at 19:06 | #15

    @Mike Smit
    I agree. This is status quo. I beleive the current services are the least we can expect.
    I beleive we can do better through…Smit you know my argument.

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