USC Presidential Platforms: the FIMS Perspective


The USC presidential campaigns have been all style and little substance for the past week and a half; at least, according to the way campus media have talked about them. So far, we’ve focused on the antics and marketing approaches of the three candidates, but now it’s time to slow down for a minute and break down their platforms.

Below, mitZine writers Steven Wright, Paul Craig, Julian Uzielli, and Hadrian Mertins-Kirkwood share their thoughts on the presidential platforms, by breaking down each candidate’s best and worst points from a FIMS perspective. Do you agree with them? Share your thoughts in the comments section after the jump. 

David Basu Roy

Best Platform Points

Steven: Although Basu Roy directly addresses many of the concerns about textbook prices that I raised in the February issue of the mitZine, his “lecture series” idea (in which professors would hold informal seminars about a plethora of subjects) is rooted in the concept of spreading knowledge and great ideas, which is definitely something that students of media can identify with.

Paul: The Lecture Series idea already exists to some extent. I know I’ve seen posters up for professors (both Western professors and visiting profs) giving one or two-hour talks. There’s the very similar Classes Without Quizzes, for example. On another note, I really like DBR’s idea of library loans.  Personally, I haven’t bought anything at the bookstore this year, preferring Gazette Books or the library to the sky-high prices of Western’s Book Store. Library loans are a good compromise.

Worst Platform Points

Julian: Although it’s not technically part of his platform, DBR has mentioned many times at debates that he isn’t part of the USC ‘clique’ and so will be more in touch with ‘normal’ students. It’s good to get fresh ideas and a new perspective, but at the same time I worry a bit that his lack of USC connections will stifle his ability to get things done.

Hadrian: It’s already come up a lot during this campaign period, but I’m going to have to jump on the “community greenhouse” critics’ bandwagon. Not only is the idea fraught with technical and financial limitations, I just don’t see the demand. That’s not to say it’s a bad idea in and of itself, and I’d love to see a club or service like EnviroWestern take it on, but this greenhouse idea does not need to be a USC priority.

Paul: Holy fuck, that greenhouse idea is a political nightmare. This is Basu Roy at his most idealistic. While it may be a great (long-term) initiative, eventually paying off in the long-run (it sounds positively utopian), the problem is that it’s a serious undertaking that would require a massive amount of vocal support from the ground-up. Whether over-worked or just lethargic, most students are content to eat the fast, convenient, and artificially flavoured variety of foods.

The Bottom Line for FIMS

Hadrian: Despite his markedly non-MIT background (engineering, music, social justice & peace studies), a lot of Basu Roy’s philosophy happens to coincide with a lot of what we study. His grassroots approach is totally MPI, his proposed speaker’s corners scream “public sphere”, and his “subjectivity” plan is more than a little post-modern. Also, I know we said we’d be talking about substance and not style here, but Basu Roy is just a genuinely likeable guy. He has been incredibly courteous and gracious to his opponents, never forgetting that he’s a people person first and not a politician.

Andrew Forgione

Best Platform Points

Hadrian: Although it’s not explicitly laid out in his platform online, Forgione has repeatedly expressed during debates his desire to decentralize a lot of the USC’s communications and involvement responsibilities to the faculty councils. Giving more resources (financial or otherwise) and responsibility to faculty councils is a welcome proposal, and comes from the candidate that best understands the potential of faculty councils. Unfortunately, this will not benefit FIMS as much as other faculties, since the MITSC is rarely strapped for cash and already gets some of the best turnouts for any faculty events on campus.

 

Paul: One of Forgione’s more interesting points (buried among a myriad of cantankerous solutions to non-problems) are his internship grants. He’s a bit ambiguous on the implementation of his grants (he makes allusions to a Social Science initiative), but his description—that they’ll ameliorate the financial burden preventing “talented and capable students” from participating in internships—sounds enticing.

Worst Platform Points

Steven: Forgione’s Mental Heath and Sensitivity training for TAs is a half-baked platform point at best. TAs already get informal sensitivity training and the university already provides mental health services. It doesn’t make sense to train TAs as service providers when there are already professionals paid on staff. TAs are already responsible for a lot of things, including providing a list of services to students if they see a disturbance in the classroom, and are not qualified to counsel students. TAs are researchers, not psychologists.

Julian: The most (dubiously) media-related point on his platform is the cell phone chargers/boosters. At the Huron debate he was ripped to shreds over this by both other candidates, who pointed out various flaws with the idea’s implementation. Out of the three candidates, Forgione seems to be the least FIMS-friendly. That isn’t to say he’s particularly un-friendly in general, just that where other candidates plan to put media-related concepts and ideas to use during their presidency, Forgione does not.

The Bottom Line for FIMS

Hadrian: Forgione’s platform may not be especially beneficial to FIMS, but it will result in a number of improvements to the lives of students in general. Most of his points will especially benefit those students who are already involved with the USC and its services as well as those who frequent the UCC. Forgione will build on the status quo — if you’re already a Spoke regular and are always looking for new involvement opportunities, he’ll be there for you. Conversely, if you’ve never felt like the USC has reached out to you in the past, don’t get your hopes up for anything different from Forgione.

Omid Salari

Best Platform Points

Julian: It’s not explicitly part of his campaign, but from his rhetorical style at debates and his uncompromising attitude, you can tell that Salari will set out to change the status quo wherever there is unfairness, inefficiency, or incompetency in the USC. He knows the organization inside-out, and he knows exactly where all the problems are. His “collective student voice” platform point reflects this. Salari wants the students to feel secure in standing up for their rights and interests, and to facilitate a collective voice.

Paul: I’d have to agree with Julian. Many of Salari’s points overlap with the other candidates’: retooling the clubs system, tackling mental health issues, and being available to meet with students, for example. But more important is the feeling of student solidarity that runs through much of Salari’s platform. His “collective student voice” seeks to empower students by uniting the student body, and he has a place on his website for new ideas from students. He even jokes about forming a vigilante group to help protect student neighbourhoods.

Worst Platform Points

Hadrian: Salari himself admits that much of his platform is gimmicky, because his main priority is to make changes to the culture and organization of the USC, rather than start a bunch of new, expensive initiatives. Still, filming classes stands out as something that will be particularly hard to get off the ground. Not only are there a number of logistical, financial, and technical issues plaguing the idea, it is almost entirely in the hands of faculty to decide if they want to record lectures—not the USC. Furthermore, many resources for filming classes already exist through UWO’s Information Technology Services, and a number of professors (such as Prof. Martin Zinke-Allmang) already use them.

Paul: I’m obviously not as well-versed as Hadrian in the issue of filming classes, but I’m also completely opposed. The idea that someone who skips class will subject themselves to two hours of boring, tinny video feed is preposterous even if the only cost, according to Salari, is buying a camera. I challenge you to sit through the USC Presidential Candidates Issues Debate for an idea of how unappealing this will be.

The Bottom Line for FIMS

Hadrian: Salari is most culturally in-line with FIMS: he’s critical, he’s edgy, and he understands the importance of media to an organization like the USC. A number of his planned changes, predominantly his wide-ranging “beefy marketing” plan, will require the technical abilities and media know-how of FIMS students. Extending USC support to non-USC-ratified groups is a fantastic idea for involving marginalized groups on campus. Furthermore, the mitZine has suffered from O-Week censorship for years, and would love to see that change. Even if he isn’t able to influence O-Week policy directly, Salari will advocate against the censorship and creative stifling that has ramped up against student volunteers (especially soph teams) in the past several years.

Voting begins tomorrow!

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One thought on “USC Presidential Platforms: the FIMS Perspective

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