The Cadre | UPEI

SU Debate Offers Candidates Final Chance To Pitch Their Ideas

By: Dan Timen

As many know, Justin Clory, a fifth-year political science student and Chelsea Perry, a first-year political science student, are running to be the next president of the UPEI Student Union. Starting Tuesday morning and ending Wednesday evening, students will have the chance to vote for the candidate of their choice.

A presidential debate took place on the eve of voting at The Wave. The debate was moderated by The Cadre’s Editor-in-Chief Nathan Hood. This event allowed the opportunity to bring up important issues on campus, and for students to hear more about the candidates’ plans if elected as president.

The debate featured questions generated by The Cadre as well as online submissions and audience questions.

(Watch the full debate here.)

During opening statements, both candidates were given 2 minutes to introduce themselves. Clory summed up his platform by stating he wanted to finish off this year’s presidential term as best as possible, while focusing on different matters including the development of the 3-year strategic plan, inclusivity on campus, as well as ways to make the LGBTQ community feel more welcomed. Clory also pointed out that he wants to change the UPEI campus from an “accepting” campus, to a “welcoming” one.

Perry used the opening statement to explain that she plans to focus on providing more accessibility to mental health resources on campus, and to use the ASIST grant to train students in mental health first aid. Additionally, she would like to work alongside VP Academic & External Taya Nabuurs to revise the sexual assault policy. Perry’s long-term goal is to strengthen the relationship between the student body and council through transparency.

Both candidates spoke of inclusivity and advocacy for groups on campus that may feel disenfranchised. Perry and Clory spoke of ways to address issues for graduate students, international students, indigenous students, and many more. As opposed to simply providing funding, Perry explained that it takes more than just financial support to help groups who may feel lack of representation in the SU and on campus. Both candidates spoke of the importance for open communication with the leaders of different groups and communities on campus that may be marginalized in order to understand how to better support them.

Open communication and transparency has been a common theme throughout the debate, and at one point a member of the audience volunteered a question regarding media training in light of a recent situation involving a Holland College journalist.

The issue of free speech was also addressed. “I support free speech,” said Clory, but made it clear that the moment it is used to spread hate it must stop. Perry answered similarly, explaining that free speech needs to be kept “within reason.”

Accountability had a strong presence in this debate. At one point Clory referenced to the Cadre article that he wrote, discussing the importance of accountability of UPEI SU executives. Livestreams of council meetings was mentioned by Clory, and Perry spoke of having close relationships with council members and the student body to ensure accountability.

One of the submitted questions explained that some may feel that the UPEI SU is a clique. Both candidates agreed that it is indeed a clique and could use diversification. Perry, as a 1st year student, said her presence could bring that sort of diversity to the council.

“Without those friendships within the council, we would be further diversifying it by putting in a first year, for sure. It would be a positive change,” said Perry.

Clory explained that he had trouble finding information from the SU, saying “even members within the council say that it is cliquey.” Clory’s solution is to professionalize the council.

Clory and Perry responded to one of the last audience questions by explaining what makes them a good match for the position of President. Perry, as a first year, may have a less biased approach on problems surrounding the SU. Clory, as a mature student with managerial experience may bring his professional experience to the position.

The voting period opens Tuesday morning and closes Wednesday at 9:00pm. All members of the UPEISU are eligible to vote via myUPEI.