Gazette endorses Team Helfand

February 11, 2014 30 Comments »

Today and tomorrow, Western students will go to the digital polls to vote for their faculty representatives and presidents, senators, and of course, the University Students’ Council presidential slate. (For the uninitiated, you can cast your vote at any time from 8 a.m. today to 8 p.m. tomorrow).

Both Team Belman and Team Helfand certainly have their strengths, and neither would be a bad choice for the USC executive. No matter what happens today and tomorrow, the USC will still be here a year from now. Students will still have their bus passes and health plans and the Spoke will still serve beer.

Team Belman’s platform focuses on high-minded ideas like advocacy and mental health support, but in terms of realistic, grounded goals that can be accomplished in a one-year term, his platform is lacking. When faced with this criticism in debate, Belman’s go-to defence has been his “Western Wiki” idea, which has been tried before —  not very successfully — in the form of Adam Fearnall’s Western 311 website. Belman’s buzzword-laden pledges are admirable, but on a USC presidential platform advocacy and mental health support are expected, even assumed. Any president can and should push for more crisis counsellors.

Team Helfand, on the other hand, has put forth a platform that could result in a few significant changes within the one-year term. Specifically, Helfand wants to freeze the USC’s $77.46 base student fee, a feat he narrowly failed to achieve as Social Science Students’ Council president last year. Both slates have acknowledged that students’ fees are too high, but so far Helfand seems to be the only one putting our money where his mouth is. Accompanied by wide-ranging service reviews, a Helfand presidency would create the potential — if not the certainty — of a more efficient, cost-effective USC. Helfand’s goal to give the USC’s full-time managers more direct control over programming budgets will also significantly mitigate the possibility of another One Love fiasco.

The clearest way in which the candidates have established their difference is through personality. Where Matt Helfand comes off as charismatic and bold, Brian Belman seems passive by comparison. In a bureaucracy, having a big personality can go a long way to moving projects along, particularly in a time-sensitive situation such as the USC presidency. On the other hand, Helfand can sometimes appear arrogant and hot-headed. But balanced out by his more pragmatic running mates, Helfand’s personality might actually breathe some life into the organization.

The candidates’ running mates set them apart as well: Both Team Helfand’s vice-presidential candidates have experience as affiliate council presidents, and are more well-spoken than Belman’s less experienced slate — an important consideration for someone whose main job is convincing others to pay attention to students’ concerns.

Brian Belman would bring careful caution to the job as president, and if elected, he would likely do a fine job. But the USC desperately needs to increase engagement, and Matt Helfand is the clear choice in that department. To some, his personality might make him appear to be a risky choice, and we agree. But without risk, there’s no reward.

The Gazette endorses Team Helfand for USC executive.

— The Gazette Editorial Board


  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Gareth Bush
    February 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm -

    I have an issue with an entire newspaper officially endorsing a candidate. It basically turns what’s supposed to be an objective and informative source of information into a propaganda machine. Even if you’re thorough in your reasoning for why someone is clearly the top choice, by taking an official side, it eliminates any objectivity in your articles. Suggesting “we know best because we spend the most time with the candidates” means you know the most, but never guarantees that you view things in the same way as the thousands of others that make up the student body.

    I don’t, however, have any issue with the EIC or whoever else writing their own personal blog on why one guy is great and the other isn’t. That’s what columns are for. Have at it! Also, is every single member of the entire Gazette writing team unanimously in support of this one party? Even if there’s only 2-3 that aren’t, I think that’s an issue.

    I might be less bugged about this decision if there was more than one major student newspaper on main campus, but there isn’t, so it leaves the reader without any sense of balance.

    Lastly, if you have the right to do it, citing previous newspapers that may have done it, then that’s your right. But it doesn’t make it any less unethical in my opinion.

  2. Vote -1 Vote +1Paolo
    February 11, 2014 at 5:50 pm -

    Shut the paper down. Save the trees.

  3. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1EveryoneGoHome
    February 11, 2014 at 3:43 pm -

    2.08 Content:

    1. The editorial content of the Gazette is at the sole discretion of the Editorial Board, and ultimately the responsibility of the Editor-in-Chief. the Gazette makes every effort to ensure objectivity, balance and fairness in reporting news and student affairs concerning The University of Western Ontario and the Western community. Thus, itdoes not permit itself to be used as a propaganda vehicle for any individual, group or entity, nor does it single out any individual, group or entity for attack or criticism.

  4. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex Carmona
    February 11, 2014 at 3:40 pm -

    (In reference to Sophia’s comment)

  5. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex Carmona
    February 11, 2014 at 3:39 pm -

    I would refer you to the last part of my comment…

  6. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Confused student
    February 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm -

    Oh and for the record I did not vote for either candidate. I do not think either of them are exceptional candidates or will make great leaders, I was merely defending the right of the Gazette to make this endorsement in my previous post.

  7. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1iwriteallthedearlifes
    February 11, 2014 at 3:38 pm -

    Sophia, what does that last comment even mean? It makes little to no sense.

  8. +15 Vote -1 Vote +1iwriteallthedearlifes
    February 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm -

    The Gazette has multiple reporters following every step of the election process and attending all the debates and events. They get a chance to spend time with the candidates, and get to know them and their platforms in ways that the vast majority of students don’t. They are as informed as anyone could possibly be on the election, and thus as qualified as possible to have a position on which candidate would be best for the school. There is no reason why they shouldn’t share it with the less informed student body. Also everything that Alex said.

    I’m iwriteallthedearlifes, and I endorse The Gazette’s decision to endorse a presidential candidate.

  9. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Confused student
    February 11, 2014 at 3:34 pm -

    I’m usually no fan of the Gazette but on this one I have to support their right to make this endorsement. I would first like to suggest that the Gazette has had a long history of ‘picking favorites’ and would write ‘objective’ stories that would make the individual they support look good and be critical of everyone else. Quite frankly we are better off with a paper that at least acknowledges where they stand then pretend to be objective when they really aren’t. Some of you will say that this paper should always be objective but let’s face it almost every single news organization has its own biases and it is very much reflected in what they decide to publish and how they write on issues (The National Post is right of centre, The Globe and Mail is centrist, the Toronto Star is liberal so to is the CBC, ect.) Bias exists in publications and it is better to acknowledge it than to pretend they objective when they really are not.

    Further even if it were possible to be fully objective the Gazette has every right to endorse a candidate. To be clear this is not on the front page it is where it belongs in the opinion section. They are not presenting this as news but as the opinion of the editorial board. I would venture to say the vast majority of students do not read this publication and those who do are unlikely to make it that far into the paper. Let’s also assume that students have at least half a brain and can make a conscious decision on their own.

    I don’t vote in federal/provincial/municipal politics based on what my newspaper thinks and I doubt that students do either. The point is that if you want to have an independent press with journalistic freedom you need to allow the editorial board to make endorsements if they choose to. As previous posters have commented this is not unprecedented or against their rules. I would also venture to say that perhaps some of the most vehement opponents to this piece are not supporters of Team Helfand and if their candidate had been selected for endorsement they would not have the same concerns.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Matt Ryan
    February 11, 2014 at 3:28 pm -

    Still the one and only, best Gazette endorsement in history was Matt Ryan 2011.

  11. -8 Vote -1 Vote +1Sophia
    February 11, 2014 at 3:21 pm -

    (click to show comment)

  12. Vote -1 Vote +1Alex Carmona
    February 11, 2014 at 2:46 pm -

    *a major election

  13. +9 Vote -1 Vote +1Alex Carmona
    February 11, 2014 at 2:44 pm -

    Anyone claiming a newspaper’s editorial board should not be endorsing a candidate in an major election showcases a blatant misunderstanding of the point of political journalism. Not only is it appropriate, it is expected of any legitimate publication. Don’t believe me? Ask the editorial boards of the Globe and Mail and the National Post, who both endorsed Harper in 2011. Or the Toronto Star, who endorsed the NDP.

    In fact, the last time the Globe and Mail did not make an endorsement during a federal election was in 1940.

    The Gazette is not the Globe, but it is the best resource Western students have to become legitimately informed about USC politics, and it is, to be perfectly honest, the best arbiter on campus of presidential potential.

  14. -8 Vote -1 Vote +1Graham
    February 11, 2014 at 2:35 pm -

    (click to show comment)

  15. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1regina george
    February 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm -

    Brian Belman can’t sit with us

  16. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1regina george
    February 11, 2014 at 2:31 pm -

    brian bellman can’t sit with us

  17. +15 Vote -1 Vote +1Cam
    February 11, 2014 at 1:10 pm -

    It’s perfectly normal for a newpaper’s editorial board to endorse a candidate. I think you’ll find most people upset with this article are merely upset with the side it has taken

  18. -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Erica Olsson
    February 11, 2014 at 1:01 pm -

    (click to show comment)

  19. -8 Vote -1 Vote +1Graham Annett
    February 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm -

    (click to show comment)

  20. -2 Vote -1 Vote +1CS
    February 11, 2014 at 12:56 pm -

    @AR only the first and last sentences of your comment were true, but they lose all credibility when paired with your comments in between.

  21. +17 Vote -1 Vote +1James
    February 11, 2014 at 12:54 pm -

    I think we need to acknowledge that this is the EDITORIAL BOARD, and NOT the newspaper who endorses Team Helfand. Huge difference. The NEWSPAPER is neutral; the editorial board is most certainly allowed to have their own opinions. It happens in every publication, in every medium. This is no different. I will refer you all to the OPINIONS section where this article is posted. It’s simply that: OPINION. They did not state it as fact.

  22. -7 Vote -1 Vote +1Emily
    February 11, 2014 at 12:44 pm -

    (click to show comment)

  23. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1Kevin
    February 11, 2014 at 12:26 pm -

    Isn’t rule 1 of journalism not to be biased? This was an incredible blunder by your part, I hope that whoever becomes president (no matter your endorsement) will do some restructuring within the Gazette.

  24. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jake
    February 11, 2014 at 11:38 am -

    This would be called political propaganda in any larger community. Remember, that stuff that we bash dictators for doing?

  25. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Chris
    February 11, 2014 at 11:36 am -

    The Gazette and all its writers are stupid people who shame UWO. You should not be endorsing anyone on a school newspaper.

    I really hope you guys get fired.

  26. -10 Vote -1 Vote +1Siobhan Brandreth
    February 11, 2014 at 11:07 am -

    (click to show comment)

  27. +21 Vote -1 Vote +1Emma
    February 11, 2014 at 10:53 am -

    As a student newspaper, The Gazette should act as a resource for students to learn more about both presidential candidates and then make a decision on their own. While I support Team Helfand, students should not be swayed by the bias of the staff writers. Read the platforms yourselves, come to your own conclusions, and vote.

  28. -21 Vote -1 Vote +1AR
    February 11, 2014 at 10:53 am -

    (click to show comment)

  29. +12 Vote -1 Vote +1richard
    February 11, 2014 at 10:03 am -

    And why is the gazette endorsing anyone…?

  30. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Sam
    February 11, 2014 at 9:10 am -

    All hail king Helfand

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