Correction: A previous version of this story stated that Chandon “said she may be sitting on the STUISA board next year. The Aquinian fact-checked this and Chandon would need to run for elections on STUISA to be elected.”
In fact, Chandon mentioned verbatim that “additionally, I’ll just be doing probably extracurricular activities, in terms of maybe just sitting on STUISA board if I do decide to run again.”
The Aquinian regrets this mistake.
To read the candidates’ profiles, click here.
The St. Thomas University Students’ Union hosted its presidential debate in advance of the spring election on March 8 and 9. The two candidates, Sydona Chandon and Tyler MaGee, debated on their platforms and took questions from the audience on Friday night.
Chandon is a third-year international student from Jamaica studying criminology and communications. She was the STUSU international representative in her second year and has served as fundraiser officer for STU’s International Students’ Association, public relations officer for STUISA and vice-president for the Black Student Association.
- Her platform points are: action-driven advocacy, promoting equity, diversity and inclusion, maintaining clarity and transparency, and the enhancement of the student experience for all.
- She plans to work with student representatives on their projects and ensure they get the word out about them in a timely manner.
- She said she wants to add an FAQ’s section to STUSU’s social media and resource website.
- She plans to update the website with new policies as they are made.
- She said she’s going to advocate for a tuition decrease and more accessible and gender-neutral bathrooms. MaGee raised the point that STUSU members have already advocated for a tuition decrease and asked what Chandon would do differently to ensure it gets done. She responded saying it’s important to have enough research done when she brings it forward.
MaGee is a third-year student honouring in sociology and majoring in women and gender studies. He has been sitting on STUSU as the sexuality and gender diversity representative for the past two years.
- His platform points are: student well-being, equity in advocacy, transparency and accessibility, and community building.
- He said he has ”plenty of experience” balancing projects and that being in his STUSU position for two years has given him a good handle on balancing STUSU work with schoolwork.
- He said he wants to continue working with the experiential learning and international offices to promote mental health services.
- He said counselling isn’t the only solution for mental health and STU mental health services are integral too.
- He wants to use the STUSU’s mental health committee in new ways and have them look at policies as opposed to planning events. He wants to ask students what they would like to see from STUSU.
- He said he’s done internal advocacy in his time as STUSU’s sexuality and gender diversity representative and he learned how interconnected student issues are.
- She said she has completed most of her course load for her major and isn’t doing an honours. She said she may be sitting on the STUISA board next year if she decides to run for elections again.
- On assuming the presidency without previous executive experience, Chandon said incoming executive members will receive training and she will read the policies.
- She said she’s an international student and will keep advocating for the COVID-19 International Student Relief Package to be provided to international students.
- She said she wants to host a pride week on campus and have forums that discuss the misconceptions of the queer community.
- She said it’s important to categorize things if something unexpected comes up and she wants to work with the executive team to make sure she isn’t micro-managing.
- If the vice-president education position were to remain vacant, she said she will spread out responsibilities within the executive student body, do things the student body wants and ensure the Get Out the Vote campaign is done.
- In terms of STUSU’s relationship with The Aquinian, Chandon said she plans to be approachable and if there’s a conflict in scheduling, she’ll make sure to reach out to other council members to take that on for her. She said, during the debate, she talks to The Aquinian “almost daily sometimes,” which The Aquinian fact-checked and deemed as false. The Aquinian reached out to Chandon for clarification on her comments. She said her words were not literal and that she has been in close communication with The Aquinian in the past month “given the recent events.”
- She said many STUSU committees meet on a needs-basis and she will look at how STUSU can redefine the lack of efficiency in some committees. She said she would like to use social media to put a call out to make students understand the work each committee does.
- She wants to post videos on Instagram with monthly STUSU updates to show students what she’s doing.
- She said it’s important to take the time out to meet with people of communities she’s not part of. She said she wants to ask questions and make surveys to understand what the needs of different communities are.
- He said the only two things he will focus on next year are his honours thesis and STUSU presidency.
- In terms of becoming president without having previous STUSU executive experience, he said he will rely on transition documents, study policy manuals and working together with the rest of the executive team.
- He said international students face a lot of challenges, especially geographically. He plans to work with the international office and go to students and advocate for them by listening to what their needs are.
- He said he wants to bring 2SLGBTQIA+, international and minority students safer spaces training to faculty and administration and wants to promote minority stress awareness in advocacy.
- He plans to open an intersectionality committee built into the STUSU that looks at how different policies on campus can take a more intersectional approach.
- If things come up unexpectedly in his role, he said the ability to manage is crucial and his priority will be the STUSU. He said he will rely on executive members too.
- If the vice-president education position were to remain vacant, he said he would delegate some of the position roles to different executives, with vice-president administration and student life taking on the internal advocacy side and president taking the external advocacy side.
- In terms of his relationship with The Aquinian, he said he believes he’s built a good relationship with them. He said he will check-in with the editors and ensure communication is a two-way stream.
- Outside of his work with the 2SLGBTQIA+ community, he said he has worked with members of the Indigenous community and two-spirit individuals and the University Women’s Centre.
- In terms of transparency, he said he wants to teach students what the different stages of advocacy are and have students be as involved as they can be.
- He said there’s no way of knowing every student’s needs and wants to have student-driven advocacy and pair that with knowledge of bylaws.