Well, it’s the first day back after what seemed like quite the abbreviated Winter break. And along with the tradition of the first crazy Rick Night of the new year comes another Western tradition — the start of the University Students’ Council’s presidential elections.
Like busy little elves over the winter break, long–time councillors have been at work putting together their exhaustive — exhausting? — platforms, asking around to see who can manage their campaign and setting up arms–reach parties to buy far more advertising materials than they’ll ever need.
In many ways, it’s like the holidays all over again. But instead of Western being decked out in colourful lights, we’ll see failed attempts at Hollywood-style signs all over University College hill. Maybe someone can light those up this year.
Yes, it’s a pretty wonderful time of year. Hope is in the air for a short time, until the frontrunners show up in the campaign and crush the hopes of those who never really had a chance in the first place.
But as much as I love the pageantry and sheer ridiculousness put out every election season, I’m actually hoping this year will see some changes.
First off, we all need to get over the idea of the need for a high voter turnout.
High voter turnout in a real election is a good sign of how strong a government’s mandate is. But on a university campus, a high voter turnout normally just means a candidate was able to come up with a viral campaign that appealed to the lowest common denominator. It’s unlikely all those people who voted for Emily Rowe did so because her “Boom-De-Ah-Dah” video put together a powerful political statement.
Second, stop with the gimmicks. Every year, campaigns look to past elections for a barometric gauge of what worked and what didn’t. A ridiculous mascot worked for Stephen Lecce? We’d better have one. Rowe’s video has ensured another handful of YouTube videos nobody wants to watch will hit the internet every February. And somewhere, back in the foggy history of the USC, someone came up with the brilliant idea of putting out a platform.
Which brings me to the most pertinent point — platforms. I know candidates, you’ve spent countless hours polishing something that will appeal to every Western student on campus. But really? You don’t need one. Come to the debates with a knowledge of how the USC actually operates (and not some fantasy about the Banana Republic dictator you can become as president) and you’ll likely be a lot better off.
Or, you could ignore me, put on a campaign that chooses to talk about toilet paper instead of tuition and get elected. Your choice.