Opinion: Three Ways to Pick a President

Vote USCDisclaimer: the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of the mitZine or the MITSC.

When voters head to the (virtual) polls this week, they will be making a choice based ultimately on one of three criteria: platform, campaign, or character.

Many students will vote for a platform. They will peruse the candidates’ websites and identify promises that appeal to them. They may even take a more holistic approach and vote for what they deem the best overall vision for the USC.

Others will vote for a campaign. They have watched the videos, attended the debates, and followed social media. They have seen the candidates jockey to differentiate themselves and judged them on their public face.

The remaining students will vote based on the character of a candidate. They have taken the platforms and campaigns with a grain of salt, opting instead to focus on the qualities and experiences that distinguish each potential president.

Unlike some years, however, none of this year’s candidates have stood out in all three categories. None of them are unequivocally deserving of the position, and that makes things difficult for independent voters. To help make sense of your options, I offer here my endorsements for USC president based on the category you believe is most important. I welcome feedback in the comments below.

Platform: Adam Fearnall

Adam Fearnall

When it comes to a vision for the USC, Adam has it right: we identify as Western students first, not as denizens of our student government. This crucial distinction runs through his platform, which is full of good ideas to make the overall Western experience better.

Above all, what makes Adam’s platform the strongest is its focus on issues that only the USC can deal with. Richmond Row can give us a beer garden, but it can’t give us a centralized, student-oriented information hub. ITS can give us more email storage, but it can’t bring us grants for undergrad academic research. The city of London can give us a crosswalk, but it can’t lobby for an interest credit. Adam recognizes that the USC President isn’t (and can’t be) responsible for everything; his platform reflects a mature understanding of the USC’s abilities and limitations.

Jon’s platform is too long, and that is a problem. Ambition is a good thing, but when you promise too much it becomes impossible to discern just where your priorities lie. Claire’s bites off more than it can chew in terms of infrastructure, while ignoring core USC services. Logan’s, although improved in the update, is still a patchwork of ideas with no clear vision for the role of the USC.

Campaign: Logan Ross

Logan Ross

I anticipate this endorsement will be met with the greatest skepticism. Indeed, all of the candidates ran good campaigns. Some campaigns may even have been objectively stronger than Logan’s, but none were as effective.

Simply put, Logan is the only candidate who is better off now than when campaigning began almost two weeks ago. Through both hard work and charm, she has fought through the “inexperienced” label to legitimize herself as a viable choice in this election. Her ability to appear increasingly credible without sacrificing her “outsider” appeal is remarkable.

She is genuinely student-focused and her campaign has reflected it. Her endearing personality has been on full display during debates, while simultaneously showing off just how quickly she’s learning about the intricacies of the USC. If she doesn’t win this election, she can be proud that she did everything she could to make change without compromising her values.

Although their campaigns were good, the other candidates gained far less over the past two weeks than Logan did. Claire has solidified her “not a politician” position but hasn’t been able to convince voters that she can tackle the serious issues facing the USC. Adam and Jon, on the other hand, who came into the campaign as the two establishment candidates backed by huge, well-organized campaign teams, haven’t grown their relative support (even if they have grown their actual support).

Character: Jon Silver

Jon Silver

He may not have articulated it clearly in his platform, and he may not have stood out in the campaign, but Jon is the candidate who can most successfully handle the complexities and rigours of the position. He is, ultimately, the best person for the job, if only marginally over Adam.

Experience has become a dirty word in this campaign, and I’m not sure why. Jon is the most qualified candidate and that should be commended. His tenure on the board of governors, as charity head soph, and on a variety of USC committees is unmatched by any of the other candidates in this race. The close working relationships he has developed with every branch of the administration, not to mention the USC’s senior managers, will be invaluable as president. He is well-respected by students and student leaders, and has a proven track record of following through on promises.

Jon’s personality has come into question during the campaign, but where some see rigidity, I see tact. In any case, Jon’s passion in a one-on-one setting more than offsets this concern. To successfully lobby the university, diplomacy is a must, and diplomacy is something Jon has in spades whereas Adam only has it in hearts and the others trail further behind.

Finally, Jon genuinely understands student concerns. It’s not enough to simply care about issues; the USC President needs to know what causes a concern, whether that concern is legitimate, and how to address it. More than any other candidate, Jon can confidently and competently do all three of these things.

31 thoughts on “Opinion: Three Ways to Pick a President

  1. Good article, but it’s unfortunate that this will undoubtedly be used as ammunition for the already obnoxious Jon Silver campaign team. Similar to fundamental religious extremists, they cherry-pick that which supports their God, and harshly condemns anything heretical. As such, I guarantee this article, more than any other, will be the most shared via social networking sites. And I think that, in itself, is demonstrative of the attitudes and tactics his campaign team has espoused thus far.

    • “Similar to fundamental religious extremists.” A little much wouldn’t you say “abs”? 9/11 and “God Hates Fags” signs are religious extremism, would you agree that Jon should be put in this category? Hahaha

      • Key word: similar. Not identical. Allow me to clarify, Mitchell. The dogmatic rhetoric that their campaign team has touted, and immediate dismissal of opposing opinions, is the area in which the two are similar. Don’t believe me? Check out their vehement defenses of Jon Silver on Facebook or YouTube, or observe their snickers and sneers in debates, or better yet, talk to one of them about another candidate’s platform. It’s unfortunate that they’re shining a poor light on an otherwise respectable candidate. Whether or not you agree, I think my point holds; has this article not been extensively shared via social media by the Jon Silver propaganda machine?

    • I find it very bizarre that you would claim the use of social media as being a strategy employed by “an obnoxious campaign team.” To the best of my knowledge, all four of the candidates have rallied support using Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube. Is this something that you’re against? Sharing articles and links is hardly demonstrative of anything other then the modern political process at work. If you find this new media landscape offensive, I suggest you consider taking a hiatus from social media sites in general.

      • Dearest Matthew, I’m not at all against the “new media landscape” as a part of the “modern political process.” In fact, if used correctly, I think it has potential to enhance the democratic process by encouraging citizen engagement and facilitating informed decisions. However, Jon Silver’s campaign team in particular hasn’t necessarily encouraged making an informed decision. For example, this article will likely be shared because it bolsters their favoured opinion. Other more critical articles, on the other hand, haven’t been as present in their modern political process.

      • Abs! To sarcastically cite a users name on this forum while you hide behind a unanimous identity is questionable. Matthew and Mitchell have admirably shared their identities to take ownership of their views. However, I digress from a personal assessment of your representation on this forum, and I also apologize if Abs is a name I am unfamiliar with. Your classification of social media employed by Jon’s campaign to immediately dismiss oppositional views is false and misleading. Jon has openly given credit to opposing candidates platform points throughout debates where credit is due. To criticize the use of social media in the defense of a candidate is a ridiculous argument. Every candidates campaign team would (and should) rush to the defense of their candidate. Isn’t that, after all, why they have chosen to support their candidate? Because they believe, as Hadrian would put it, in the platform, character, and ultimately campaign their candidate represents. Furthermore, to ascertain a similarity between a student run campaign and religious extremism is not only an extreme disposition to hold yourself, but incredibly poisonous to any rational discussion about the USC presidential race. Furthermore, a more holistic understanding of the composition of Jon’s campaign team may help you understand Jon’s “propaganda machine”. Jon is in MIT. He has an honors degree in the field of communication and media studies, of course his campaign team has an overwhelming presence on social media sites. As a Jon supporter myself, I commend his use of social media to offset the loses incurred by all candidates because of a reduction budgeting.

      • Taylor, your response is not only presumptuous and immature, but it also perpetuates the type of anti-intellectualism that currently plagues rational discourse. Grow up. Also, you make the dubious assumption that I am a “he”.

        And Connor, to address your level-headed and rather eloquent, albeit misguided, response: you’ve incorrectly identified sarcasm in my responses. I was merely making clear to whom my response was directed. Furthermore, the only reason I hide behind an alias is because I fear being burned at the stakes for presenting a a heretical opinion.

        Firstly, it should be noted that by claiming to support a specific candidate, your response is invalidated to a degree. Regardless, your postulations are no less false and misleading than mine, as neither of us have empirical evidence, but only personal experience on which to base them. It has been my personal experience thus far that certain proponents (but certainly not all) of Jon’s campaign team have used social media in an undemocratic, unwelcoming, and, quite frankly, unprofessional fashion. I would not be so naive as to assume that all of the candidates haven’t used similar tactics, but again, in my experience, Jon’s campaign has been by far the most pervasive and insidious of all. (Perhaps that’s because its primary supporters are those social-media-savvy MIT kids; I mean, that is what you guys learn about, right?) You would think, though, that someone with an education in such a field would realize the implications for the democratic process that social media can have, if used irresponsibly. Or at the very least, you’d think he’d better manage his online presentation (control his overly-defensive campaign team).

        Again, I have no problem with online campaigning in itself. The bottom line is that the overall tone of his campaign has left a sour taste in my mouth, mostly due to the ways in which certain members of his campaign team have conducted themselves both online and offline.

  2. I’m not sure how you can claim that Jon has more applicable experience than Adam Fearnall. Speaker of the USC and Huron President are both enormously important positions – as well as positions that lend themselves better to the role of USC President than a glorified event planner. Jon did a remarkable job as Charity Head, and he should be commended for it, but to claim that that will give him more strength in the day-to-day struggles is folly indeed. Adam’s experience lends him to be a better MANAGER of his team, which is what a president needs to be able to do above all.

  3. Wie geht es dir Hadrian?- my German lover.

    While I think you hit the nail on the head with these three distinctions that people do make, I don’t agree in the ability to separate the contestants that way. I agree with most of your opinions on the three candidates you listed, and more and more, I see Clair within that list less and less. However, and sadly, these candidates can’t just be one of these things once elected.

    First, i’ll go after “campaign.” While Logan ran a successful campaign (valued by the number of people who knew her 2 weeks ago in comparison to now), it’s hardly a quality I want as a USC President. I couldn’t imagine myself looking at her as USC President and knowing she got there because she was good for 2 weeks that time in February (insert nightmare).

    “Platform” and “Character” are more interesting, and think should hold way more weight in the voters’ decisions. Full discloser: I’m a Jon Silver supporter, but I assure you these views are only slightly skewed by that. Platform makes sense. And if it is going to be judged on simplicity, I understand your pick of adam here, but let’s not forget that their platforms aren’t totally different- if they were, this larger “Platform” vs. “Character” would come more into play. My issue with “Platform” is that all of these candidates surely have platform-people (some more than others), who help create these platforms, just as they have website-people, and media-people, and PR(ish)-people. USC Presidents have to be more than their platform, because new things come about (eg. new Sophing changes this year) that have nothing to do with their platform at all. In those times, students surely want a leader who doesn’t have to look at their own website to remind themselves what stance they take on it. Jon (and I think you’ll agree here) has been really good and handling new issues (sophing, outdoor signs) publicly in his blog. What he writes are his opinions, and whether agreed upon or not, become part of his platform in a way. Here it’s evident that “Character” and Experience really make the platform as well. Nothing in his platform is bad or wrong (on the level of Clair’s amazing&unnecessary AirBlades), and realistically, he’ll have challenges implementing it as much as any other candidate would. What’s important in my mind here, is that by creating a distinction between the intrinsically linked “Character” and “Platform,” is problematic. If a robot ran a campaign and had a strong platform, why not vote for it? I’m not saying adam is a robot (I think he proved he wasn’t by screaming at the audience during the Huron Debate), but I am saying that it is unfair to judge a candidate SOLELY on “Platform” because I’d say that 80% of the job of USC President is dealing with unpredicted, unforeseeable issues, ideas, and changes.

    “Character” in the way you describe it, should hold the most weight in handling the job of USC President because of the unpredicted, issues, ideas…etc. Still it’s problematic to break it down by itself as well, because it influences both “Campaign” and “Platform.”

    I’m not supporting “Character” because that’s where you slotted Jon, because I think everyone could do this and argue for different candidates in each of these slots. I do think that voters should think about each candidate in terms of these three categories, THEN PUT THEM TOGETHER, and in my opinion value them in this order, with this weight:

    1. How would you scale the candidate’s “Character” (experience, personality, etc.) in terms of setting them up to be able to handle new, unforeseeable things which make up the majority of things that come through the USC?
    [0-5 points]

    2. How much of the “Platform” can I most get behind, and want to see happen.
    [0-3 points]

    3. How good was the candidate’s “Campaign” in that they deserve to be recognized for their overall efforts.
    [0-1 point]

    Add them up, see what you get…

    Here’s what I get (TOTALLY MY OPINION):

    Jon: 5+2+0.5= 7.5
    Adam: 3+3+0.5= 6.5
    Logan: 2+2+1= 5
    Clair: 1+1+0= 2

    All the best. 🙂

    • Good approach, Mitchell. Very analytical. But maybe most voters are not so analytical, and Hadrian’s article seems to be leveraging the categories and instinct he believes students will apply to vote. After all, my grandmother once said she was going to vote for “that Mulroney fellow, because he’s so handsome”. Oh well. Don’t we all have a prejudice or two, a predisposition, a “deal-breaker” that determines our vote more than a methodology? After all, in federal politics, voters vote for party, leader, local candidate, probably in that order. My $0.02 worth.

  4. to clarify… doesn’t the Speaker of the USC just sit there and tell people to shut up? fair. a valid trait for a usc president…….

    seeing that macarthur didn’t make your cut. vote jon silver?

    #bearnationforlyfe #callmenever #bestcolours

    • I totally realize “#bestcolours” is supposed to be funny, as Clair loves to put forth, but I don’t think it’s enough to make a USC president.

  5. Mitchell, I find that essay you have just written to be completely biased. Especially since you are on Jon Silvers campaign team. I am sick and tired of hearing and seeing Jon silvers team bashing other candidates. It is completely inappropriate and just goes to show how unprofessional his team is. I understand its not Jon himself saying these things, but he should be held accountable as well since he doesn’t seem to be stepping in as a leader and stopping all the disrespectful propaganda. And to the author of this article, if you plan to be successful in this industry of writing you must learn to separate your personal views from your work. A journalist reports the facts and is not bias. And i completely agree with “abs”, Jon Silvers team seems to be the only one spamming this article! Ummm, i wonder why?
    Oh and for you not to include Claire in this article completely shows how unprofessional your work is. She is a candidate to, and has every opportunity to win. I pray western students see the light, and do not buy into this Jon Silver propaganda CRAP!

    • It’s an opinion piece, an editorial. Endorsements are a huge part of this industry, take a look at the Globe & Mail’s endorsement over the past year, they don’t follow party lines, they pick the candidate who’ll do the best job.

      • Oh and for you mister Pat Whelan, I would seriously watch what you say if i were you. Seeing as though your running for a position as well. Your indirect slander on twitter do not go unnoticed! I think its about time team SILVER chills out and stops attacking the other candidates and those who support them!
        Im done here, i usually refrain from such things, but this was something that seriously annoyed me!
        Good luck to all the candidates 🙂

      • to a seriously concerned student:

        what did pat whalen say that turned you off from voting for him and that you think he should “watch what he says”? maybe you should re-read what was said; he doesn’t say anything about jon silver, but simply stated the factual knowledge regarding editorials and journalism…. so on that note…you should probably re-read the platforms then too.

        and honestly, jon silver is probably every candidates biggest competition, unfortunately. if you are an educated voter, you would know that it’s been 3 v. 1 (the ONE being mr.silver himself) at every single debate and internally on campus.

        i’m all for #bearnation, but reality is, you people are craaay. caamon, open your eyes…

        p.s. your serious concerns as a student can be fixed. do you need to hug the bear?

    • 1. clearly you know nothing about journalism. it’s titled OPINION. do you know what one of those entails?

      2. there is a disclaimer stating that the views expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of the mitZine or the MITSC.


    • From what I’ve read we must, “pray western students see the light” as they are too foolish or likely to be swayed by those, “religious extremists, [who] cherry-pick that which supports their God”

      Are you serious? We’re voting on a student leader, and no matter who wins it won’t be the downfall of humanity. Lighten up.

    • Hello!

      Thanks for furthering the democratic process this blog is allowing for. I think Hadrian is pretty clear when the article is titled: “OPINION…” as well as stating it multiple times in the article. I too said in my essay (realize it was long, sorry Zine), that I come from a slight bias position due to my existing support of Jon, check it out- I think I mentioned it twice. You too, are allowed your opinions, and I’m happy you expressed them here. Read my post again, I think I try and make clear that I was talking about the distinction (indicated as equal) between “character” “platform” and “campaign”, that’s all, then shared how I valued them, then said why I support Jon. Again, I emphasized “TOTALLY MY OPINION” with my results. I never said Clair couldnt or shouldn’t run, I just happen to value it differently, again, in my opinion. You don’t have to go by my quasi-formula, that’s just how I do it, and I had a critique of how Hadrian does his, and I know Hadrian critiques how I do mine haha.

      As for this Jon Silver propaganda thing, I don’t think that’s fair to hate on supporters. I declared my support and said why, but that wasn’t the focus of my reply. I apologize if that wasn’t clear, but you can probably read that I tried to make it that way, and expressed my own bias when It was relevant. Thanks for the response, great to see democracy in action, regardless of what side you fall on (MIT plug).

  6. judging by the distribution of thumbs up/down, it would seem as if jon silver’s campaign team has been here. a little Internet etiquette, for those of you unfamiliar: “thumbs downs” are not to be used on posts with which you disagree, but rather on posts that you feel add nothing to the conversation. if you do “thumbs down” somebody, you should at least explain why you disagree.

    • I have ‘thumbed-down’ you because you are making an unsubstantiated claim.
      The argument you put forth is that everyone who doesn’t agree with you is a foaming-at-the-mouth supporter of Jon Silver.
      There are four candidates running, all of whom have campaign teams, and there are a large majority of unaffiliated students. I don’t think you are giving the latter group enough credit, actually, as an individual coming from that group.

      I don’t believe your facile generalization is adding anything necessary to this conversation.

      • What a thoughtful, reasonable comment, Mr. Paul Craig.

        You must be a Silver Shirt, you bastard!

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