Academic Commissioners face off

By Roman Zakaluzny

This year’s Students’ Union election may forever go down as the Year of the Acclamation. But if it’s a race you’re looking for, there was one last Thursday in the foodcourt at the Academic Commissioner’s Forum.

Six candidates are vying for four positions on the Academic Commission, making this the most highly contested race of the election. The forum was hosted by outgoing VP Academic Heather Clitheroe and VP External-elect Duncan Wojtaszek, both of whom peppered the candidates with dozens of questions.

"The questions were kind of trivial," said second-year Social Sciences student Matthew Sheldrake, who stopped by the forum between classes. "It’s interesting to see who knows the answers, but I don’t know how fair [the questions are] in picking who to vote for."

The questions ranged from "Why do you want to be an academic commissioner?" to "What is a proper level of tuition?" to "If you could be any superhero, who would you be?" The forum also featured a lightning round where candidates were asked to spell out acronyms and name university VIPs as quickly as possible.

Some candidates thought the questions, especially in the lightning round, weren’t appropriate.

"I thought [the forum] was good, but some of the questions, such as the acronyms, were irrelevant," said the only incumbent of the Academic Commission, Nic Porco, who answered most of the questions correctly.

Third year Psychology student Jeff Reinhart, who observed the forum in its entirety, expressed some doubts on its effectiveness.

"[The forum] has its good points and bad points," said Reinhart. "It’s heavily accented on public speaking, and I don’t know how much public speaking is needed on the Academic Commission."

The forum was one of the most raucous to date. The combination of all six candidates with audience heckling and questions made for an interesting hour of Q & A, although reactions from the candidates were mixed.

"I was really happy with the audience response," said contender Erika Dempsey. "I could tell from their reactions that they were listening to me, and appreciating the ideas that I had to offer. Because of [their] positive reaction, I have greater confidence going into the second week of campaigning."

"Overall the forum was run well, and I enjoyed being given the opportunity to speak," said candidate Jon Larsen. "[However] I really wish more students had turned out for this forum."

"It was a good chance for me to get to know the other candidates and there were some good questions from the audience," recalled candidate Ian Sutherland. "It was nice and casual and we even had a little fun."

"I thought that the forum went well," said Bryndis Whitson, current SU Social Sciences Faculty Representative. "It is great that all six of us came to the forum, which shows that we are all committed enough to represent students. There wasn’t many people listening to the forum, unfortunately."

Clitheroe, along with Wojtaszek, held both the master microphone and the timer, and did not hesitate to halt candidates after their assigned 30 seconds.

"The first 20 minutes of the forum were really helpful and informational for the people there," said the final candidate Barb Wright. "However, the remaining part was mainly SU grandstanding, with Clitheroe making herself look better."

Voting takes place Mar. 15-17.

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