blogUT covers the UTSU elections!

Hello World! Hello Internet!

My name is Jiayi (blog, twitter) and I will be one of your two blogUT correspondents for the upcoming UTSU elections. Joseph Uranowski (blog, Twitter), the other blogger, will soon have some posts up as well.

Now, first things first; declaration of intentions. I can’t promise my posts won’t be partisan since I’ve spent a few hours volunteering with one of the slates already, but I can definitely promise to be entertaining, forth-coming, and spirited. My election promise this year is to tell it like it is – bare bones, warts and all. Even (and maybe,¬† especially) if it might make the team I support unhappy. After all, isn’t that what democracy and freedom of speech is all about?

So without further ado…HERE ARE THE CANDIDATE SLATES!

The Names

STRONGER TOGETHER vs CHANGE

Folks, I am not going to lie. The first thing I thought of when I heard “Stronger Together” was “Gosh, that’s awfully FASCIST”…lots of little sticks being tied together to make one big overpowering totalitarian stick. But that might be a personal sensitivity, since I’m well-aware that one of my greatest flaws is cynicism about individual action. As one of my dear friends said to me, “if there’s a revolution, and they were going around asking for names, I would not nominate you to be Minister of Individual Rights unchecked and without supervision*.” But other than my hypersensitive FASCIST-dar, the name makes a lot of sense for the candidates running. They are all very committed to the idea of student solidarity, and the possibility for a student movement to accomplish great things together. As Utah Phillips sang, when it comes down to it, a union is just a way to get things done together that you can’t get done alone. And like it says on the tin, UTSU is the University of Toronto Student Union.

stronger2gether

“Change”, on the other hand, hits me at a very visceral level. Damn right, you can keep your coins, I WANT CHANGE!! Change the poverty overseas and in Canada, change the course of catastrophic climate change, change unjust market access and market control, change discrimination and various forms of oppression…and damn right, I’m going to devote my life to fighting and changing the unjust circumstances that many of us are in. But then I pulled back from the adspeak and thought, “Hang on, change what?”. Do they want to change the same things in the same ways that I do? Thinking back to some of the fascinating ideas raised by Malcolm Gladwell and Mark Kingwell at the social change forum two years ago at ConHall, as well as having read Professors Heath and Potter’s book The Rebel Sell, ‘change’ occurs to me as a concept that can be marketed to everyone and anyone, a ready-made content-free slogan that can be packaged and sold in next season’s high-top all-star converse sneakers, if need be. For someone who holds very dear the promise of social change in way that can alleviate suffering and undue injustice, I’m going to give the next hipster wearing a mass sweatshop-manufactured Che t-shirt the stink-eye. Sorry CHANGE slate, that includes you.

changeuoft

Personal Preference: Neither. Yuck!
Predicted average-six-notebook Josephine Student Preference: CHANGE
Advantage: seeing blogUT is by students for students and thus ought to defer to the masses** rather than singular blogger quarks, CHANGE.

Next up: THE WEBSITES!

Long live democratic participation! Vivre l’universit√© libre!

*to be more academic about it – I think human rights must also include ‘collective rights’ and some of those collective rights might in some circumstances, trump individual rights.
**see, what did I tell you! there goes my unconscious collectivist again.

6 comments for “blogUT covers the UTSU elections!

  1. March 12, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    People from both of these teams have come to 2 of my lectures to speak briefly and to me it seems extremely vague what it is that CHANGE is out to change.

  2. Jiayi
    March 12, 2010 at 8:34 pm

    From what I understand about the Change candidates, most of them come from a college council background (or the engineering society, like Jimmy Lu). Unfortunately, the college councils have not had a good relationship with UTSU historically. Personally I think that both parties are to blame for that – UTSU for not doing the best job of reaching out to colleges, and college councils in letting personal conflicts dominate their perspective to the detriment of working on campaigns and projects together.

    I also think the Change candidates were originally motivated (since they are mostly the same as the Change slate from last year) by a very different vision of what a student union should look like. Many of them were not especially sympathetic to the campaigns that UTSU have run – not only in methodology (which I had issues with myself, because I think the past campaigns could have been a lot grassroots-driven and student-empowered beyond gathering petitions), but in basic goals. They weren’t really on board with the various drop fees campaigns, they didn’t think a student movement that lobbies administration and governments (and sometimes to the point of taking it to the street) is effective, and so on. Of course, a lot of the messaging has changed from last year, but I haven’t seen signs that the vision itself has changed since none of the candidates were very involved with these projects during the last year.

    There’s probably also a big difference between the views of the candidates on the Change slate and the average Change slate volunteer. My impression is that many of them are friends of the candidates who haven’t been too involved with student projects outside of college councils, so they may not have a coherent position either way.

    Wow, that’s long…. I might work this comment into a future post because I have some other thinky thoughts about student politics to add as well.

  3. Blake
    March 15, 2010 at 6:07 am

    Many of the claims you made above about the CHANGE U of T candidates are completely false.

    First of all, only two candidates that ran last year are seeking election again. That in no way constitutes “most” of them. It is also important to note that these individuals lost last year’s election with a vote margin of between 30 and 60 votes each.

    Second, I would be careful about assuming CHANGE U of T candidates weren’t on board with the Drop Fees campaigns. I believe two of the candidates explicitly participated in organizing the Day of Action on November 5th and also participated as marshals at the rally.

    Finally, it is important to note that most if not all CHANGE U of T volunteers are on the same page with the executive candidates. The executive candidates have created their platform by engaging students throughout the process, as well as having hosted over 10 organizing meetings focused on platform development and explaining it to their volunteers.

    Please, I enjoy reading your posts but it is difficult for me to read this without setting the record straight. It speaks to another issue about the ST campaign making false accusations about the CHANGE U of T team. I suppose you may have fallen victim to this tactic.

    Too bad.

  4. Carol Rodrigues
    March 15, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Let me start off by stating for the record that I am in no way unbiased in this election.
    Just to clarify, while candidates on the Change slate may have been present at the Drop Fees rally the year before last, they were not in any way involved in the one this year. I know this for a fact since I was at almost every single one of those meetings. In addition, I too was a marshal this year, and no one from the Change slate was, or showed up to the Day of Action, to my knowledge anyway.
    Regarding the issue of the ST slate making false accusations, I am sure that if you asked any of the candidates or volunteers to back up their accusations, they can provide proof in the form or meeting minutes or volunteer lists. Making false accusations is a violation of the U.T.S.U.’s elections procedure code, and all candidates know this and would not be randomly making false accusations.
    I say all, while keeping in mind that as per CRO Ruling 11, two of the Change candidates were found to be “intentionally misrepresenting facts”. You can find the ruling and the details on the U.T.S.U. website. In fairness, the candidates in question have likely not had a chance to appeal the ruling yet, so there could be some other factors as yet unknown.

  5. Clancy Catelin
    March 16, 2010 at 5:51 pm

    This is the most reasonable (and even entertaining!) representation of the election I’ve seen yet. You’ve really hit the hot issue with asking “change what?”. I’m going to follow Carol here and in the spirit of transparency let anyone reading know I am a “Stronger Together” volunteer. I also strongly recommend that anyone wanting to know the real score on this “he said, she said” business to read the CRO rulings.

  6. Mark
    March 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I kind of have to agree with the previous poster, in that it’s nice to know that Stronger Together volunteers are human, and the discussion on here is civil. Like, have you seen the varsity? Sketch. It’s kinda why I broke my lurking silence and decided to post today.

    My impressions of Stronger Together volunteers might have been coloured by my trying to go to my classes this week, and having all that green thrust at me, when all I really want to do is go to class.Things aren’t helped by the fact that the volunteers either seem really, really pissed off about something, or they don’t know anything.

    Like, I was chilling near Vic today before my Spanish class this week, and this green team volunteer approached me, and started railing about the evils of turnitin.com and why it should be banned. When I said that students shouldn’t plagiarize their own work anyway, she paused for a minute, and then started saying that the other team weren’t committed to equity, and would cut funding for equity events, one of the candidates is racist, and that they would waste all our fees on parties, at which point i stubbed out my cigarette and pretended to see a friend I had to go talk to.

    And this is what bugs me about some Stronger Together volunteers, that when you want to discuss some of their platform points, they switch to personal attacks. Like, Change’s platform is kinda wishy-washy in some parts, but the one time I talked with one of their candidates at Gerstein, he was open to talking, and while he critiqued their platform points, he never made personal critiques of the candidates. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like it when people attack the individual, and not the idea.

    Anyway, just my $0.02. Hopefully, my interactions when I go to vote tomorrow will be nicer.

    Jiayi, will there be more posts? I like your writing style.

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