Hey internet, I was having some serious insomnia so I decided to hammer out another post. To save your eyes from a vomit-wall of text, I’ve decided to break it up into chunks. Internet, you have /no idea/ how close a call that was, because I eat politics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and you’d be here reading for a looooong time. (and so would I! Please, whoever sees me tomorrow, please feed me coffee and veggie pastries anyway. I’m going to need it.)
First impressions matter. Unfortunately for my policy-bonk brain, my immediate thought upon reviewing most of the web content from the two campaigns was “I hope they’ve got copyright clearance for their music.” No one wants a repeat of the infamous Stockwell-Day-U2 fiasco of 2000. Up for grabs for all you up-and-coming IP lawyers is a Phoenix track used on the Change slate YouTube videos, a
BSS Foo Fighters web intro at the Stronger Together website, and Daft Punk (or is that the Kanye remix?) over the Stronger Together video credits.
The Stronger Together website went up first, and boy is it pretty. Flashy colours, a musical intro, and plenty of web content to keep me occupied while I waited on tether-hooks for two days until the Change website finally went up Wednesday morning. I’m going to be covering the platform content in more details over the next few posts, but let me say first that both websites left me a bit cold.
Make no mistake, everyone sounds really good, and that’s half the problem. Both slates have definitely mastered the language and cadences of what campaign websites ought to look and sound like, but unfortunately that’s all they are: campaign websites. Where are the indepth anecdotes? The personality? The spark of humanity, beyond calculated politicking to ‘interest groups’ as they exist on campus? I know there are differences between the two slates (obviously, that’s why one gets my vote, my endorsement, and my volunteer hours), but honestly, looking at the websites myself, it’s sometimes hard to tell between the two. When it comes down to it, I really wish both websites feature more personal stories and first hand accounts. I’m absolutely certain that these must exist.
For one thing, I’ve been in touch with some of the Stronger Together candidates all year working on campaigns and it’s a real pity to have some of their amazing and heartfelt work reduced to platform blurbs. To take an example of one of their campaign points – having won the St. George Street closure between College St and Harbord for next September. Adam Awad and other folks won that victory after years of lobbying the City of Toronto with the Ryerson Student Union. I remember hearing about Ryerson environment groups fighting to get Gould St closed since my first years in Toronto and my jaw literally dropped when Hadia told me about this during one of my volunteering briefings. This is a HUGE THING for making campus more pedestrian and bicycle friendly! Another of Stronger Together’s goals on the environment front that immediately resonated with me is Zexi’s plan of getting Good Food Boxes for all the student residences. It’s such an ingenious yet obvious idea that I’m a bit peeved that I didn’t put it into effect myself back when I was running worm composting workshops at New College years ago. Given that most of the candidates on the opposing slate are intimately involved with college councils, it’s telling that their official environment platforms published online and in their campaign literature have almost no specific plans about how colleges and residences can be made more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
The difference in policy experience is even more apparent when it comes to talking to campaign volunteers in person. The people I’ve been volunteering with make a point of talking about particular areas of personal interest and involvement with candidates in student issues – whether it’s the environment, equity, poverty, student advocacy, or any other issue. When asked about why students should vote for the Change slate, I overheard the orange-clad volunteer answer “because they look happy! And if you vote for them, you will be happy too!” Of course that particular volunteer does not tell the full story of the Change slate. Steve Masse has been involved with environmental issues at Woodsworth College, and I’m sure he has great experiences to tell as well. It’s a real loss to the student voting public that neither of the websites featured much of a narrative.