By Natalie Sit
Last Thursday’s Students’ Union general election presidential candidate forum drew six of the seven candidates to Speakers’ Corner in MacEwan Hall. Students gathered around three levels of stairs to listen to the candidates answer questions from moderator and current SU President Paul Galbraith and the floor.
Reviews of the forum were mixed, though most candidates were glad they had the opportunity to communicate to students and that students were able to see who they actually were.
"I think it went great," said presidential hopeful Faisal Rana. "It was the first time people have seen me publicly. All the students got a chance to see the six of us speak."
During the forum, Galbraith asked candidates specific questions about their platforms, though two candidates, Rana and David Quayat, were questioned about previous terms they had served as commissioners on the SU.
"[The questions] were a little unfair because some were platform questions and some were personal questions," said Quayat. "I’ll answer either, but I was disappointed I got a personal question."
Most of the candidates viewed the difficulty of the questions as a test of their ability to think and speak on the spot.
"Many people may comment that the forum was intimidating and difficult," said candidate Leah Rajesky. "But I believe that any presidential candidate must be prepared to face those unnerving public speaking situations."
One common criticism was the lack of time to take audience questions.
"In every election there appears to be some students who don’t get that much information from candidates and don’t have the opportunity to inquire about issues," said candidate Rob South. "I’d like to see more opportunities to ask questions given to those types of students."
For candidate Rahim Sajan, the forum could have been better timed.
"The forum could have been more useful if it were held after the general student population had a chance to read the candidate platforms," he said. "A suggestion would be to hold the forum a day after the Gauntlet printed the platforms."
For Aaron Szott, the negative aspects greatly outweighed the positive.
"I found the forums a complete joke, an SU orchestrated farce," he said, adding that all the questions should have come from the students on the floor. "The only people who got questions out on the floor were the hecklers. Paul [Galbraith] was treating people at the university as if they were really idiotic."