Blog The Vote: Whelan Wins

February 14, 2013 3 Comments »

Blog The Vote

Blog The Vote: Whelan Wins

Storified by Western Gazette· Thu, Feb 14 2013 11:16:55

That was a close one.

Right down to the moment the results were announced, I had no idea who was going to take it. This campaign got off to a dull start, but by the end the candidates had accumulated a total of 36 demerit points between them—more than in any other election since at least 2000—and the USC managed to call their second re-vote in two years. It was kind of unbelievable that they let a flawed voting system go unnoticed after what happened last year, but at least they didn’t take two weeks to fix it this time.

Patrick Whelan won the USC presidential election by 121 votes, followed closely by Vivek Prabhu. The two candidates used nearly opposite tactics: while Prabhu used a top-down approach, focusing on getting endorsements from USC bigwigs (impressively, he secured endorsements from almost every faculty council president), Whelan went from the bottom up. Instead of reaching out to USC insiders, he tried reaching out to students instead, encouraging them to get involved with never-before-seen campaign tools like the Facebook dashboard an iPhone app. Apparently, it paid off.

Before the numbers were announced, I didn’t think it would be quite as close. While endorsements from constituency leaders would be effective in any other political system, I thought, at Western most people probably can’t name their faculty council president. But to their credit, the series of ongoing endorsements posted on Facebook was visually consistent and appealing—if a student didn’t know their faculty council president before this election, they might know them now because of Prabhu’s campaign. I didn’t expect Prabhu’s focus on USC insiders to pay off, but it nearly did.

Our platform increases the grants program to …Facebook
There isn’t one student experience. Why are YOUFacebook
It is with full sincerity that I am proud to …Facebook
In the end, though, the grassroots approach used by Whelan came out on top. They also used visually consistent online campaign materials, regularly posting slick-looking graphics explaining their core campaign points.
Your ideas need to drive the change at Western …Facebook
Your ideas need to drive the change at Western …Facebook
Let’s face it, exams are extremely stressful. SoFacebook
Not to mention, of course, Whelan’s iPhone app. I think this is what really pushed him over the edge—it’s well-designed, contains useful information, and the photo-overlay feature actually made it fun for people to use. It injected a sense of humour into his campaign—something team McGuire attempted to do, less successfully in my opinion—and encouraged voters to create and share their own content as opposed to passing around messages from campus politicos.
The “idea forum” was probably Whelan’s most-mentioned platform point in interviews and debates, another audience-engagement tool that he has already instituted. All in all, engaging the electorate proved to be an essential tactic, and probably one that won Whelan the election.

Ashley McGuire went the Twitter route. Her campaign team was infinitely more active using the official election hashtag, #voteusc, than any other candidate. At any given point during the campaign, I would have put money on the most recent 50 tweets in the #voteusc feed being dominated by the blue A. It worked for Andrew Forgione, but then, he wasn’t competing with the level of technological innovation displayed by Team Whelan.

Out of the three presidential slates Western had to choose from, Whelan’s platform was also the most detailed—though somewhat ideologically divisive, as well. He has a clear plan for the USC, characterized more by advocacy than visible services. But there is one thing on his platform that is immediately required, and which I hope he can implement as soon as possible: UWO email by Gmail. Apparently it’s free for universities, and seriously, Convergence is the worst.

Congratulations to Pat, Sam and Amir—The Gazette looks forward to hounding you at every turn.


  1. Vote -1 Vote +1barb
    March 8, 2013 at 7:55 am -

    Hey Patrick, I met your mother at a hotel I work at just a day ago…she is so, so proud of you….shes a wonderful woman…

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Sherry
    February 14, 2013 at 8:21 pm -

    Close call – Thank you dear God with how it ended.

  3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Paul Craig
    February 14, 2013 at 3:40 pm -

    Who has two thumbs and thinks this is a well-written article?

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