The candidates for the University Students’ Council presidential elections had their second official public appearance today, when they were interviewed in the Spoke for The Big Purple Couch.
The hosts interviewed each candidate separately for about 15 minutes. The format was more casual than last night’s debate, allowing the candidates more time to speak. Despite the more laid-back atmosphere, they mostly expanded on themes brought up in the debate.
Logan Ross came on stage first and appeared very much at ease. She continued on her somewhat risky path of drawing attention to her shortfalls—it was clear during the debate last night that she wanted to portray her lack of direct involvement in the USC as a strength, rather than a weakness.
At first I wasn’t convinced this would work—why try to sugar-coat your shortcomings rather than promote your assets?—but after the BPC interview, I think Logan might be able to actually make this work in her favour.
For example, some have questioned Logan’s plan to update her platform mid-campaign, saying it makes her look indecisive. But, as she clarified for BPC, “I can’t know every student’s concern before the campaign period.” She said her platform is feasible and won’t be changed completely—perhaps “adjusted” would have been a better word.
And again, she pushed her lack of direct involvement with the USC as a plus, saying she had “grassroots appeal.” I can see the tactic working now that Logan seems more comfortable in the campaign, but it remains to be seen whether voters will bite, or go with a more experienced (safer?) choice.
When I returned, Jon was talking up his platform point of introducing a “Spoke Brew,” modelled after the infamous beer brewed in-house at the Ceeps. “Everyone loves Ceeps Brew,” he said as I sat down—hang on now, Jon, let’s not say things we can’t take back. I admit I’m intrigued by this idea, but I just don’t see how
brewing beer with student fees could ever get off the ground [Update: I've been informed that Silver only plans to buy beer, and brand it as Spoke Brew].
Contrary to Logan, when asked to differentiate himself from Adam Fearnall, Jon pushed his extensive experience at various levels of student government. He claimed his experience was “much more well-rounded” than Fearnall’s, which is arguably true.
But while Jon continues to push his experience and impressive knowledge of the USC, is it possible he’s alienating some voters? It’s obvious that the average student knows far less about student government than Silver, and he might risk turning them in favour of Logan or Claire, the “average student” candidates.
Claire McArthur was all smiles—practically a platform point of its own for her. I couldn’t help noticing her boots were untied—perhaps it was part of her image as an average student (you know, the kind who eats lettuce while hanging out in Middlesex College).
To her credit, Claire defended her somewhat-criticized use of pop culture references in last night’s debate (she referenced four TV shows and a celebrity breakup, each in a separate answer), by saying she thought it was important to stay light-hearted in order to engage students, and even made another—this time to Napoleon Dynamite. She has a point—I’ll concede that some of those marathon five-hour council meetings could have gone by a lot quicker with some comic relief.
Though she answered questions directly for the most part, Claire continued to seem the least comfortable speaking in front of a crowd. Her answers tended to ramble and lack focus. However, as far as I can tell, Claire McArthur has more enthusiasm than any other candidate in this race. But how far will that take her?
Adam Fearnall is in his element in front of a crowd. Maybe it’s all that time he’s spent sitting in front of the USC as the speaker this year, but he seems to exude confidence when speaking to an audience.
At the same time, though, this confidence might be off-putting to some, crossing the line to insincere. Good politicians are great speakers, after all, and who’s ever heard of a sincere politician?
Adam defended his platform point for an interest credit for students, which was criticized as unfeasible by Jon Silver in last night’s debate—Silver said the credit would allow for far too many possible combinations to be researched, putting undue strain on an already struggling counselling system. Adam pointed out, however, that a similar system has already been implemented at other schools including McGill and Harvard (after all, Western is aiming to evoke Harvard-style prestige with their new branding), and said critics were just afraid of “big ideas” like this one.
When discussing his platform point to update the CHRW recording studio, Adam did drop one interesting nugget—reportedly he is working on an album of his own right now. Maybe it’s just part of one of his almost-too-well-rehearsed stories, but that’s something I want to hear.