Academic candidates duke it out

By Emily Senger

The Students’ Union candidate’s forums got off to a sluggish start Mon., Feb. 6 when three of the six academic commissioner candidates failed to show-up and the vice-president’s acclaimed status made for an easy debate victory.

The forum began with a showdown between the three commissioner candidates who showed up. Brittany Sargent, Fraser Stuart and Blake Bergener told the 20 people in attendance what each considered to be the number one issue for undergraduate students.

“I think the major issue facing undergraduate students is the de-valuing of undergraduate degrees,” said Sargent. Sargent also said she would like to increase awareness of the academic appeal program so students will know where to go if they have academic issues.

A common theme in the candidate’s platforms was the need to address problems with the Universal Student Ratings of Instruction.

Stuart identified issues with lower USRI response rate as his number one concern.

“There needs to be education of what a USRI is and what it does on campus,” said Stuart. “I’d also like to create a teaching assistants’ excellence award.”

Bergener suggested there could be opportunities for students in statistics and economics programs to get involved in USRI redevelopment, which is part of his platform to diversify the undergraduate experience.

“There should be more options for undergrad students in things like research and co-op opportunities,” said Bergener.

The forum concluded with acclaimed vice-president academic Shannon O’Connor’s message to students. Though she was acclaimed, O’Connor said she would have liked some competition.

“I’m a little bit disappointed about being acclaimed,” said O’Connor. “I’m excited but I was ready for campaigning. I had my posters, and my banners were beautiful.”

O’Connor said she intends to keep her door open to students and their concerns, despite her acclaimed status.

“I was acclaimed for academic commissioner last year,” said O’Connor. “I’ve shown that I will still be accountable, even though I’ve been acclaimed.

The academic commissioner candidates who failed to attend were Luke Valentine, Wilma Shim and Ryan Lake.