HSF presidential candidates spit fire during debate

by | Mar 7, 2014 | News

By Kathleen Jolly
News Reporter

The fight for a spot in the Humber Students’ Federation executive body reached fiery levels during an all-candidates meeting last Tuesday.

Candidates from North campus, including those for VP Student Life, VP Student Affairs, President and Board of Directors for North campus and University of Guelph-Humber were all given the opportunity to answer questions from voters.

Comedian Sabrina Jalees of MTV fame, who most recently wrote for Canada’s Got Talent, hosted the meeting at Humber’s North campus.

The gloves quickly came off during the presidential candidates’ forum, as tensions rose after a Twitter question asked the candidates to list one of their strengths and two weaknesses.

“I think I can do a better job at holding your vice presidents accountable,” said incumbent president Tim Brilhante, who is standing for re-election. “You know when they’re in their offices socializing, when they’re cancelling food bank appointments. I need to do my job, and sometimes I have to make tough decisions.”

Kay Tracey, currently VP Student Affairs North, quickly rebutted him.

“With regards to saying, ‘holding vice presidents accountable,’ if you’re the leader of a group, you must hold yourself accountable first, before you can hold anyone else accountable. You were chosen to be the leader, and if you can’t lead your group correctly then your vice presidents will be the ones that are slacking,” said Tracey.

Candidate Mary Anne Savoie used the heated exchange to her advantage.

“Vote for someone that you truly believe has your interest at heart, not the betterment of themselves,” she said. “More teamwork among the higher titles will be better for you. If there is so much drama and hostility and chaos in the offices upstairs, that doesn’t look good on anyone…and that doesn’t work out for you.”

Candidate Shawn Manahan also came under fire from a member of the audience.

Manahan’s posters offended first-year paralegal education student Chelsea Berry.

“One of your posters states, ‘Hey girl, good luck on your exams, I believe in you,’ and the other, ‘Victoria’s Secret: She votes for Shawn,’” she said.

“I feel these posters reduce me [as] a woman, and other women from the academic setting participating in the college community to simply a sum of stereotypically defined parts, it makes me feel disrespected as a woman,” said Berry.

Brilhante clapped enthusiastically when she asked if any of the other candidates felt the posters were inappropriate.

“To each their own,” Manahan told Berry. “If you don’t approve of it, that’s fine. I’m obviously not going to get your vote…it is what it is, it’s college. I’m representing the student body, not the country, but I’m sorry that you feel that way.”

Tracey recited her closing statements as a poem.

“Do not vote for friendship or affiliations. Exercise your right because you need someone. A good leader moves away from ‘I’s. Let us be us and we will strive… One vote, total change, that is my motto and that will never change.” she recited.

Brilhante described his passion for the post in his closing speech, also mentioning he wants to create new part time jobs, a president’s committee, and he wants to freeze student fees.

The VP Student Affairs North campus candidates proved to be more amiable. When Jalees asked if anyone had anything bad to say about each other, everyone smiled and shook their heads.

During the forum, Odin Von Doom called for a more proactive approach to initiatives by distributing Student Feedback Questionnaires.

Saudia Deokilall discussed the need for more choice at HSF’s food bank.

“Instead of giving somebody fixed packages, which is our current service that we offer… I think diversifying that by giving them the opportunity to purchase their own products, purchase things that they like… as well as what they need,” she said.

Amarjot Singh Gill said when he asked students if they knew who their VP Student Affairs was, many did not. He wants to let students know what services are offered by HSF.

Inderjeet Kaur Sangha questioned whether Gill was the best fit to do this, saying that he’s the least experienced candidate among them.

“I think you would obviously have a steep learning curve if you were to take on this position, helping students with services here at Humber if you don’t know much about them,” she said.

The VP Student Life forum took a strange turn when candidate Tim Samaniego told a “true story” during his opening remarks of sitting behind a girl on a bus one day and being fascinated by her hair bun.

“I really want to know how that bun works, same with HSF I want to know how it works, I want to know how it operates,” said Samaniego.

Ahmed Tahir ended his opening statement by repeating his catchphrase, “I work as hard as I twerk.”

Robert Gemmell pointed to his posters, which have a Lego theme and call him “#TheGinger,” several times throughout the forum as evidence of his creativity and originality, which he said would be valuable assets in the VP Student Life position.

Board of Director candidates for North and Guelph-Humber also gave brief speeches. Eric Collings for North, Joanne Durno and Erik DiVito for Guelph-Humber each took the podium, while Rafael Gouveia for North was absent.

After the forum, Mackenzie Thomson, a media student at Guelph-Humber, said all candidates did a great job.

“They all spoke really eloquently and they really care about the issues that go on.”

Thomson was initially leaning towards Brilhante, who she said made her Humber experience great. However, after the debate, she was less sure.

“It got pretty heated for president, and they all did a really good job of defending themselves and their platforms, so I don’t know who I’m going to vote for president, it’s going to be a really tight race,” she said.

Voting will take place on all campuses this week from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.