All Together: An Interview with Jordan Pearson, FIMSSC Presidential Candidate


jordan pearson posterThis past Monday I had the pleasure of sitting down with Jordan Pearson, a leader in the faculty and one of two candidates running for the FIMS Student Council President. Here’s his take on our faculty and the role he hopes to play:

{Web Editor’s note: OPENWIDE Editor-in-Chief Jordan Pearson is strictly hands-off for all FIMSSC election coverage, to avoid conflict of interest. An interview with the other FIMSSC presidential candidate, Matt Wright, will be published here soon.}

Kevin: Your election platform is very interesting, but I’d like to address some topics that aren’t necessary campaign points: first of all, what made you decide to run for FIMS Student Council President?

Jordan: I’ve spent three years in this faculty now, and I can honestly say that I’ve learned to love it, the people and what we learn in class. In my experience on the FIMS Student Council this year, as well as being Editor-in-Chief of OPENWIDE, I have interacted with students, with faculty, with administration, and I have seen that we have made great strides this year towards facing these pressing issues. And I think that I’m uniquely acclimated to the culture of FIMS in both a social and academic sense. I said to myself, “We can really make something happen here. We can really come together and push these things through.” Because I think that we’ve become complacent in how our student councils operate, and I think it’s entirely possible if we enact my platform points that FIMS can be a great mechanism for change. And I saw an opportunity there for that, and I am willing to work really hard with a lot of people to make these things happen.

K: So what makes you feel that you’re the most qualified for the position?

J: I think that I have experience in how things actually work here. Between meeting with faculty and administration as well as students, I’m in a unique position to see these things through. In my experience as Editor-in-Chief of OPENWIDE, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to work with a great team of editors and contributors, and the experience of organizing large groups of people to make really fantastic things happen. Also things such as event planning, such as the FIMS Film Fest – that’s coming up, we’re planning that. But also I think that I’m uniquely in tune with this year’s project on council, which was to foster an environment of action and balancing academic with social interests. And I’ve seen what’s possible first-hand for a student council, and I’m willing to work for it.

K: To better introduce you to the faculty, is there anything we don’t know about you which we should know?

J: I think I’m a pretty open book. I think that I put myself out there pretty fearlessly in a lot of my writing for OPENWIDE, and in my campaign. I think that what people might want to know about me is how really dedicated I am to these ideas; how I do this in my spare time—this isn’t something I just started being interested in a couple weeks ago; that I am really interested in how student movements can enact real change. And also how connected I am to the local community, that I also have connections with different venues and groups in London. One of the biggest pushes of this year that’s coming up in FIMS, the administration, and the USC is that [we] want to see students involved in things like – I believe the University administration actually specifically said – local politics. And one of my big pushes for OPENWIDE this year has been to really engage FIMS with the local community, because I really do think London has a great arts scene that can be a space for FIMS students to really flourish, to use our many different talents and our skills that we learn here, to make the London community flourish, and of course to enrich ourselves. I think that I’m involved enough in the community here that I can bridge that gap as well.

K: What previous experiences have you had that have prepared you and really separate you from Matt Wright?

J: I love this faculty. I’ve spent three years here immersing myself in the people, in the things we study in class, and I want to see that carried forward. I am willing to work so hard to see this faculty be the best it can be – and the best I know it can be. I think that I have a vested interest in a lot of the things we talk about here, and I am willing to put it into practice with our student council. We all want practical solutions, and the things we talk about in class don’t have easy solutions.

FIMS is a faculty that shies away from easy solutions and is willing to work through these really, really difficult problems to find a better alternative. I’ve really taken that to heart over the past three years. I think that is something our student council can and should do; we need to break from the norm and break from the status quo of what student councils have become at Western. And I think I’m the candidate to do it, and that [together] we can realize the full potential of a student council that represents an entire faculty of forward-thinking individuals. Yes, there’s going to be a lot of great events; there’s going to be a lot of fun – that’s not going to stop. In fact, it’ll be better than ever. I realize what we can do here, and I’m willing to work to make it happen.

K: Changing subjects, what do you think of the faculty’s current state socially? There are many preconceptions surrounding FIMS, from hipster and cliquey stereotypes, to confusion regarding what our faculty is really about. What’s your opinion on the perception of FIMS, from inside and outside?

J: I think what makes FIMS such a great faculty is how many diverse groups of people we have here. We have all kinds. We have people that want to see a future of themselves in marketing; we have people who would be totally fine standing on a picket line forever; we have filmmakers, artists, writers, poets, thinkers. I mean, we’re all here. That means that there will be a lot of different opinions about what FIMS is, and what FIMS could be, and I think that’s wonderful. But it does lead to some complications, and it’s been a real struggle for FIMS to find its identity. And there’s been a real push the last little bit to go towards that.

For instance, we at the FIMS Student Council right now are working on an initiative called “What is FIMS?” to really raise awareness about what [the faculty] is all about. I think there are some misconceptions about FIMS, and that sometimes we are conceived of as a [bit] laid-back compared to other faculties, perhaps academically, and I don’t think that’s really true. I think we have a reputation of being an awesomely social faculty with lots of great events, and I think that’s fantastic, but we need to work to correct some misconceptions about who we are academically.

Council this year has made some great strides towards that with things like The Forum and the Speaker Series, and even more all-ages events. And I really want to continue that, to makes these events bigger, better, and to solidify FIMS as a concrete identity on campus, because it has been a little amorphous to date.

I conversed with a student today – very interestingly, she was an international student coming to Western in FIMS – about her perceptions of FIMS. She was a Muslim, and she had a very different idea of what FIMS would be, and she felt that a lot of other international FIMS students felt the same way; that FIMS was being represented as a place that is very diverse and accepting, and I think that’s true, but her [actual lived] experience was very different. And I think that we can work towards including all kinds of people with things like more dry events, all-ages events, and different kinds of events beyond your average bar night, like Inappropriate Office Party and Martini Bar, which are awesome and fun, but kind of exclude certain people. [We can be more inclusive] by doing things like working on more speaker series and diversifying our events, and really from the get get-go in September hitting the ground running with things like “What is FIMS?” to really solidify this faculty.

Pearson with activist groupK: So by saying that “she had a different experience,” do you mean that, though as social as FIMS is, this student felt as though she was on the outside looking in?

J: She did feel as though she was a little on the outside looking in for various reasons. I think that that’s kind of indicative perhaps of a large group of people who feel this way, and if they are underrepresented that we should strive to make them represented. And that’s the job of the student council.

K: How will your campaign ideas change the faculty’s presence on-campus, off-campus, or online?

J: It absolutely will. I think at Western, we’ve become acclimated to the idea of student councils as event planners and furthering social lives in faculties, which is great. But I also think that especially in FIMS, a faculty that – in the classroom at least – is so focused on changing things we find to be unjust, that our student council should represent that and do that. I think that as a body that directly represents students to faculty administration we have a duty to be on the forefront of that kind of movement.

My platform points actually take hard stances and rally people around these causes; such as getting rid of access copyright, which directly affects students and hits our wallet pretty hard with a $30 direct fee, and also forcing us to pay for very expensive course materials that we could potentially get for cheaper or for free. By bringing these concepts we learn in class and these theories and making them reality, by bringing them into practice and enacting them, we can solidify FIMS as a very dynamic, active, and forward-thinking body on campus. I think we should really get a better grasp of what is possible with a student council.

When you look back at the history of social movements, and even in Canada with things like tuition, student bodies just like the FIMS Student Council have been at the absolute forefront of these. Things like freezing tuition rates in provinces other than Ontario have been in large part because of organizations such as CFS – the Canadian Federation of Students – or Ontario Undergraduate Students Alliance, which we are actually a part of right now. And yet Ontario remains one of the few provinces in which tuition is outpacing inflation, which of course directly affects students. And I think that once we change this mindset from just fostering social life to applying what we actually learn in the classroom to make these real changes, that that can be a wonderful thing, and I think it just starts with realizing what we can do.

K: So student councils are not just event planners. But you’ve also promised some “fun surprises.” Do you have any new events ideas?

J: I’ve had a couple. Of course that will come from actually discussing these things with other members of council who will be more involved with the process. I don’t want to let out too many surprises, but I’ve thought of a few things that might be interesting. It’s hard for me to say what events will happen and won’t happen right now, but I can say that I’ll be looking to diversify the different kinds of events we do that will be both dry and licensed.

K: As President you’d obviously have many responsibilities, but the FIMS Student Council itself is the driving force behind you. What criteria would you use to select the Student Council executives?

J: Exactly, when you’re choosing executives you are choosing who is going to be backing you up, but also challenging you. I hope to assemble a diverse group of people for council if I am elected. I’ll be looking for people that I think are in tune with as many facets of FIMS as possible; people who are very involved on the social end, and people who are more in tune with the academic side of FIMS. I’m looking for people who have a bigger vision of FIMS than just event planners. I’m looking for people who see the possibilities, and are willing to work towards it. The slogan for my campaign has become “together,” and if I am elected and have to select councilors, I’m going to be looking for people who have diverse opinions, but are willing to work together to make these things happen.

Pearson with co-studentK: Would any of your platform ideas transfer to other faculty groups, such as the Soph Team, Street Team, or OPENWIDE?

J: Absolutely. I think that the Soph Team is an invaluable resource in council. They are the first people who students get to know, and they represent our faculty from the get-go. By being involved with the Soph Team, by really utilizing them as the great and fantastic resource they are, we can really change the culture from the ground-up, from the new students coming in. So I think that the Soph Team is instrumental in that regard: we have to support them and we have to back them as much as we can.

Certainly I hope that these platform points will reach into other faculties, in fact I really do hope to work with other councils and unions to make these platform points happen; because the reality is, we can’t do it alone. Any kind of change has to happen through all kinds of people working together for the same goal. Very few people got anywhere meaningful by being a lone wolf. I hope that, if elected President, I can work together with other groups that have power on campus like the FIMSSC to work towards goals that will benefit us all.

K: Focusing on your opponent, Matt Wright, what do you like about his campaign and what don’t you like about it?

J: I think Matt is addressing some very valid concerns in FIMS. We all want jobs after we leave here; I know I do. But I think that he is going about it the wrong way. A heart in the right place can only go so far. With things such as inviting industry partnerships into FIMS to build bridges towards the job market, I really think that’s the easy way out when faced with funding cuts from the government and rising tuition rates. The commercialization of education is what has been undermining faculties exactly like FIMS across the nation and across the world. In a faculty that is so uniquely focused towards political economy, towards grappling with the social issues that we do, to betray that focus by inviting industry partnerships is absolutely antithetical to what FIMS is all about. I think that it will be met with firm resistance every step of the way, as it should, because it is in this faculty’s DNA to shun easy solutions and work towards alternatives.

I think things like lobbying faculty to change course content is unfair to professors who are dedicating their lives to grappling with these complicated issues, and to ask them to present such an easy solution in twenty minutes, in a lecture, at the end of a lecture, at the end of a semester, is unrealistic and forgets about some of the other bodies we have here that are doing just that.

Look at MPI for example, Media and the Public Interest: that program is all about trying to find practical solutions to these kinds of things, and they are underrepresented, although we’ve made great strides this year. To try to take some of those characteristics and shoehorn them into MIT is unfair to them, and I think we should be fostering their development along with MTP. I think we should be working towards allowing these programs to flourish and become their own presence on campus instead of trying to, in what will undoubtedly be an unfruitful effort, shoehorn their most salient characteristics into MIT, a program that is – unfortunately, whether Matt likes it or not – very theoretical and very unique, and I think it should be protected.

K: Leading back into your own campaign, what would you say is your single strongest platform point?

J: I think that my single strongest platform point is my commitment to student involvement. We’re having one feedback session this year; I think that’s great, but I also think it’s not enough. We have to make council’s presence known, on campus and among FIMS students. My platform point to have regular feedback sessions, potentially once a month, will be our greatest asset with staying in touch with what students need, with what students want, how to best advocate those needs, and how to foster a community of action around these issues. Whatever else happens, I think that that will be a fantastic development for FIMS, and one that cannot be understated.

Pearson banner in UCCK: Why do think that “Together,” your campaign slogan, has to be emphasized above all else in this election?

J: Because from what I’ve learned from FIMS, in my classes, the issues that we face have to be faced collectively. They’re not things we can solve on our own, and the most powerful thing we can tap into, our greatest resource in solving these tough issues, is students coming together around them and having their voice heard. Without that, nothing can change and nothing can happen, so I do think that is absolutely paramount to really making any real change.

K: Great, that’s it. I guess if you’re as effective as you are well spoken we shouldn’t have anything to be worried about. Any last words you’d like to say?

J: Well thank you very much. This election has been so exciting on many different levels, first and foremost that we’re having an election at all! It shows that things are changing here, that students are actually becoming engaged in a very real way with the things we are learning in class. And I see this as a massive and incredible shift towards what FIMS could and should be, and I think that in this election we have to keep that going. Now is not the time to fight against the winds that are blowing; now is the time to run with them at our backs. And I think that, if elected, I will do just that; that we will see changes in this faculty that we haven’t before, and we will see things get better for students in a way that has never happened here. And I think that we can all work together to make FIMS the faculty that it was really meant to be.

~~~

Kevin Chao is an OPENWIDE Staff Writer who is always striving to work harder, act stronger, and call his mother more often.

*Images taken from Pearson’s campaign Facebook page

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2 thoughts on “All Together: An Interview with Jordan Pearson, FIMSSC Presidential Candidate

  1. I think there are some great ideas here, and a lot of genuine passion about FIMS. But I’m still waiting to hear details on specifically how Jordan plans to achieve goals like eliminating access copyright or lowering tuition. These are issues that the USC, which has vastly more resources than the FIMSSC, has been unable to affect. How is it feasible for the FIMSSC to succeed where the USC, OUSA and CASA have failed (so far)?

    I support all these ideas, I just don’t believe they can be achieved at the faculty council level. Talking about how great the faculty is and how we can all work together to create change is the same old political rhetoric we see year after year. I want specifics.

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