Two forums happened yesterday, and the only thing that has become apparent in the vice-president (academic) race is who will not win.
The first forum was at Campus Saint-Jean and addressed the concerns about the deteriorating condition of the titular campus. The candidates were pressed on the insufficient options for Francophone students. The questions covered issues from the lacking minors to the subpar teaching, and all the candidates responded with solutions that are available in their portfolios. It was, however, disappointing to see only one out of the three candidates actually conduct their answers in French. The CSJ forum saw a new opponent for Akanksha Bhatnagar in Cristiana Pop. The International Student Association forum was very quiet on the vice-president (academic) front, only really addressing the ISA’s lack of traction with the International Student Services which all candidates safely answered.
Pop was the only candidate at CSJ yesterday who spoke in French, and she seemingly ditched the platform of mental health to focus more on the issues the VPA can address. She hit points on the embarrassing lack of funding to CSJ and the need for students to take courses on North Campus to get the quality of education they pay for. She relied on her experience and her passion being a CSJ student, which was very effective. All of her responses were passionate, pointed and effective in rallying up the crowd. The other candidates were on her turf and she knew it. This forum guaranteed Pop the campus Francophone vote.
Bhatnagar was highly effective at the CSJ forum, despite her answers only being in English. Her answers focused on better Francophone representation at all levels of university governance and committees. She also mentioned the lack of funding that leads to underwhelming Francophone professors. She did have her first non-answer, however, in her response to the lacking Francophone educational resources. She said it was something that needs to be fixed but provided no real answer as to how. Her answers didn’t differ too much from Pop’s, but her responses in English seemingly distanced the crowd. It is not a requirement for SU candidates to speak French, but when going to a forum attended by Francophones, it might be best to rehearse your opening statement in French even if it appears to pander. Knowing your audience is crucial in winning any election debate and it was disappointing to see Bhatnagar fail to do so.
Tiffany Bruce had flickers of competitiveness but ultimately collapsed under her nonperformance. Her answers at both forums were lacking. At the CSJ forum, she suggested that students just attend classes at North Campus and take the experience back to CSJ, rather than working to improve the quality of Francophone teaching present. She answered in English and did not even attempt any French. The few questions she was asked at the ISA forum were bland and she skirted around an actual answer. Bruce has appeared in three forums now and at all three she has shown a fundamental lack of preparedness when it comes to knowing the confines of the position, the constituents, and campaigning. It’s disappointing to see a candidate that breaks the stereotype of a poli sci student playing government flounder this bad.
If the Myer Horowitz forum continues the trend we saw yesterday, Pop’s focused enthusiasm on relevant issues to the position put her in contention with Bhatnagar’s driven experience for the role. If Pop continues the confidence she had battling on her territory this race may be too close to tell, as she pulled an easy victory in today’s forum debates.