Those involved with the student political landscape at UBCO are misguided in their blame. Slates as they have manifested themselves on this campus are not the problem, particularly not in the same sense that caused them to be banned in the Vancouver system.
The main knock against the S4S slate that I have been hearing so far is that they are discouraging competition and monopolizing student union positions. I don’t see how they have done this, all they do is get out there and make themselves heard. They provide services for the students and represent the students in important issues. Is it so hard to believe that S4S/S4U have been an elected majority for over seven years because they are really good candidates, who all run together because they all know that they are really good candidates?
There’s no political alignment or shift behind S4S. They just want a good group of friendly people who can put in decent hours to making this campus a better place. People who care enough to vote trust the experience and success of the S4S slate. Those who don’t care enough aren’t pulled into caring by mistakes the union makes because they don’t make many mistakes. Their ideology is not leftist, not conservative, just committed to serving the students. This is the way it should be, and the way it currently is.
The ‘problem’ is that nobody wants to run against S4S, as if a group of people who emphatically believe that they would all best represent the students is some kind of invincible monster. In the latest election, there was one person who felt that he had a big enough beef with a UBCO issue (fees/levies and what they’re used for) to go ahead and try and become Financial Coordinator, so he could advocate for changing them. Chris Samsom got his message out there by campaigning to anyone that would listen, and good on him. This is what our campus needs in terms of politics. More people who are willing to get their beliefs out there, and campaign for support much like Samsom did.
Kirk Chavarie got the position because more people thought he was the better candidate. Read that sentence again. Not because more people on this campus support the political left or right or centre, because they felt Chavarie was the best person for the job. The other executive positions went uncontested, yet a great deal of support among those who voted was given to Tse, Garcha and Martinuk. Again, it their resumes that got them on the council, not the name S4S/S4U.
Vancouver banned slates because they felt that the Alma Mater Society was turning into a political organization rather than a company. At UBCO, it is already the latter, so why ban slates? More students on campus notice what the union is doing than the ones who vote. People notice the water stops. People notice the U-Pass. Let’s be real here, the reason people don’t notice a lot of issues with the UBCSUO is far less important than them representing the students well on all issues. They’ve done that.
Congratulations to Chavarie, Martinuk, Tse and Garcha. Here’s to hoping that our SU continues to kick ass.
Alex Eastman is the Phoenix’s political columnist. His column doesn’t run, it flies.