Disclaimer: 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
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
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
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.