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WHERE ARE THE STUDENTS? Whitson and Porco wonder.
Cory Bass/The Gauntlet

Full-contact forums for SU Election

Academic and presidential candidates face off in no-holds barred debate

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"I wasn't that interested," commented a departing student.

That sentiment summed up students' reactions to Tuesday's Students' Union Vice-president Academic forum. Nic Porco and Bryndis Whitson commented on the lack of students at the Speaker's Corner location, a change from last year's arena of the columns in MacEwan Hall.

The forum blasted off with the two candidates outlining their platform points.

Whitson thinks the Academic portfolio is the best way to input student ideas into university policies. She discussed direct entry and said students must know what each faculty offers before applying. As well, she feels the Universal Student Ratings Instrument could improve its efficiency by including more quantitative and qualitative questions.

"One thing with the [USRI] is that the teaching evaluations are posted on the web," said Whitson. "All those should be looked at and it should only be one form with actual comments. You're not really interested in taking time to fill out two sheets. Instead of two forms, just the one."

Porco raised points about the University of Calgary enrolment policy which means allocating money on a per student basis. He said it was unacceptable for faculties that offer fewer courses to lose funding.

Like Whitson, Porco criticized the implementation of direct entry.

"The problem is that a lot of the degrees they're going to offer in place of the current system aren't in place yet," said Porco. "They have three degrees to approve before 2002. They're not going to be done in time. I don't care what they do. Students need to know that; students need to have options because these degrees are important to students."

An audience member asked the candidates their stance on differential tuition as the university plans to charge tuition depending on a student's faculty. Both agree it will hurt students in the long term.

"But it should be even. We should be helping each other as we're going through our academic life," said Whitson.

"But what about people who want to take courses between faculties?" asked Porco. "Let's say an engineer who wants to take a course in Social Sciences to broaden their education like everyone should? [Which faculty's] tuition do they pay?"

Students go to the polls March 14-16.

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