Great Debate recap: President

The presidential debate tonight saw a focus on the two frontrunners in the race — Ava Nasiri and Jenna Omassi.

Sugar Brewer’s reason for running as president was because he’s a student and he can — and to help his fellow students. Hassan Packir, a joke candidate, told a bad joke about pizza. Aloha Dave announced he would be selling off the $85 million UBC has in oil shares and put it back into students, stating that “we should be the angel investors in ourselves.”

Moderator Gordon Katic pressed Omassi on why the four per cent decrease of the proposed international tuition increases that student lobbying achieved was considered such a win. She responded that it represented a new kind of student advocacy that could and would be expanded into other areas, such as campus development and land usage.

Katic pointed out that both Omassi and Nasiri come from student government backgrounds and asked both what they’ve learned in their respective positions. Nasiri emphasized her appreciation for processes and ability to engage with a wide variety of people. Omassi spoke about goals and how-to guides. 

When Katic asked them to point out something that each should be worried about their opponent, Nasiri refused and instead focused on her wide range of experiences within government, saying that she believed she was the most well-rounded candidate because of the variety of positions and portfolios she’d interacted with. Omassi disagreed and said that she was the most well-rounded, drawing on her policy-making experience and background in student life.

Packir asked Omassi and Nasiri how they felt they should be held accountable to their promises when the normal routes of societal pressure to achieve those promises don’t hold as much sway in student government — low levels of public engagement, no need to worry about getting voted in for a second term. Nasiri said that, to her, it was about creating culture and instilling values in future generations. Omassi said she had achieved almost every goal she’d set in her previous student government positions.

Both emphasized a mentality shift necessary in dealing with the society’s lagging businesses — Nasiri focused on a collectivity of thinking, while Omassi talked about a better understanding overall.

In closing remarks, candidates for the most part restated their platforms — except for Aloha Dave, who revealed plans to create an AMS Airforce to fly the UBC Symphony Orchestra around for an American tour.

Katic received kudos for playing the role of moderator with admirable tact, given the number of student at the presidential candidates’ table who many see as having the same chance of winning the AMS presidency as a snowball’s chance in a hot place.