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NO HARD FEELINGS: The VP Academic candidates chat.
Colleen Potter/The Gauntlet

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Academic

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Though the Vice-President Academic is one of the least frivolous positions in the Students' Union, the candidates' forum was an exercise in the bizarre.

On Thu., March 7, three VP candidates and one of the four acclaimed commissioners showed up to be grilled on their qualifications for the job. Gavin Preston, acclaimed commissioner, took the hot seat first and answered several questions relating to his platform and experience. The first eyebrows were raised when moderator Natasha Dhillon, addressing the need for discretion in the academic commission asked, "When was the last time you blabbed a secret that you shouldn't have?"

Before Preston could answer, VP candidate Dan Skitch hollered from the crowd, "When we kissed!"

The flustered Preston stammered a reply and quickly left the stage.

Skitch, Rosie Nagra and Darby Semeniuk next took their turns at the microphones to answer 10 predetermined questions followed by questions from the floor.

Semeniuk showcased his experience as a one-year veteran of the academic portfolio, discussing the issues and demonstrating a clear commitment to students.

"Tuition is such a huge issue for students," he said. "I'm absolutely opposed to differential tuition and part of my platform is to get the information out, get the media involved and show administration that all students are concerned about tuition. It's the responsibility of elected officials to just do the footwork-to use and train the faculty reps, to get out there to students."

Nagra displayed poise and familiarity with the critical issues, outlining a platform built around her experience as a student.

"The number one concern of students here is for the quality of their education," she said. "The second is for fair tuition costs and the third is related to representation. It's my priority to make sure every student recognizes what the Vice-President Academic and the faculty representatives do."

To the bemusement of all, Skitch took time out from munching popcorn only to provide answers completely at odds with what was expected and, in some cases, what would have been desirable.

"I'm in favour of differential tuition," he said. "I think it would promote inter-faculty rivalries on campus and I don't support social science students paying the same as computer science students when they [social science students] will earn so much less."

Nagra proposed mentoring programs and online-study groups and Semeniuk outlined plans to reform the Tuition Action Committee and merge academic townhalls with more "fun" events.

Skitch, meanwhile, denounced the democratic process of electing faculty representatives, favouring fist fights instead.

Unsurprisingly, both Nagra and Semeniuk emphasized that Skitch's best quality was his sense of humour.

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