At one point in the FIMSSC Presidential debate Wednesday night, someone in the standing-room-only space leaned against the light switch and half of the room went dark. While the problem was quickly remedied, the audience was briefly left with the image of presidential candidates Matt Wright and Jordan Pearson divided by light and darkness. Personally, I was hoping they’d keep the new lighting: it illustrated just how different these two presidential hopefuls truly are.
Wright began the debate with his opening statement, complete with past experiences (such as Sophing) and reasons why his time on the University Students’ gives him a unique perspective into the inner workings of our greater USC. Though Wright’s opening statement was fine, he repeatedly used the phrase “all together.” Because Pearson has made this very expression a seminal part of his campaign, one was left wondering if Wright was purposefully alluding to his opponent, or if Pearson’s campaign was so effective even Wright couldn’t shake it.
Pearson followed with enthusiastic vigor. In his opening statement, he brought humour, passion, and that “Fuck Yeah” attitude that tends to come over FIMS students when they leave a particularly charged lecture. If one were to take Pearson’s opening statement out of context, they might think he was leading the French Revolution. With Pearson, you get the feeling that he truly believes he’s leading a revolution – a student revolution.
Points of Contention
For many of the early questions, Wright and Pearson tended to agree with each other. These points included the FIMSSC’s role in the old Ivey building’s adaptation for FIMS, continuing the speaker series, more promotion of the Undergraduate Student Fund, the failures of the Digital Communication Certificate, and a more inclusive FIMS environment. However, as the night went on, there were several instances of disagreement.
Some smaller discords included whether or not the FIMSSC President should serve on the FIMS Soph Team, with Pearson arguing “no”—that the president can work with the team collaboratively, and Wright saying “yes”—but —without frosh, which would allow the President to better understand the team. Another difference in opinion centered around Wright’s online creative hub idea. Wright explained how the hub would not only allow students to showcase their work but also make connections, chipping away at the clique culture that is perceived of FIMS. Pearson, however, questioned the ability of a website to foster a community, especially an artistic one. Instead, Pearson advocated for more in-person feedback sessions, even suggesting adding a position on council that’s responsible for facilitating such dialogues.
A recurring disagreement in debate concerned Wright’s platform position to change the direction of MIT content to make it more practical and career-oriented. Wright stood by such plans, claiming that the frustration felt by students in the faculty is caused by uncertainty over the purpose of MIT and the disjunction between program goals and classroom experiences. Pearson retorted by drawing attention to MPI and MTP, two modules that are both concerned with practicality and specificity. He suggested building these modules up rather than limiting the academic freedom of MIT professors.
The strangest moment of the debate happened when the candidates were asked about minoring in MIT. Wright opposed the idea, saying that it would water down MIT content, put more pressure on faculty members, and dilute our graduates’ appeal in the job market. Pearson identified the hypocrisy of his opponent’s stance, suggesting that with an MIT minor a student could major in Marketing, Economics, or another ‘practical’ program that Wright speaks of. Pearson (with the help of an audience member) also pointed out that a minor would likely bring more money to the faculty and help fund initiatives to improve the overall FIMS student experience.
The ‘Oh Snap’ Moments
There are always those moments in a debate where a candidate gets heated and throws a challenge or a side jab to their opponent. These were those moments:
WRIGHT’S: Through his campaign, Pearson has incorporated a fight to lower tuition costs. At one point in the debate, he elaborated on this position, specifically Western’s involvement with OUSA – an organization that he believes has betrayed students by approving tuition increases. When Pearson spoke about working with another organization instead, Wright questioned his delusions of grandeur, asking what gave him the right as FIMSSC President to transplant an entire University from one student organization to another. Oh snap.
PEARSON’S: When Wright’s opinions about changing MIT content were once again aroused, he explained that his platform was, in part, inspired by the online guidelines of MIT. These statements go beyond critical thought, advertising that the program will give students experience in practical fields like journalism and marketing. On this note, Pearson asked an important question: What’s easier? Changing an entire module into something it doesn’t want to become or changing a few words in an online statement. Oh snap.
Concluding Statements & Thoughts
Pearson was first to close off, again recounting his excitement about this atmosphere of change and his eagerness to lead it. Through the entire debate, Pearson was articulate and concise, able to expand on his platform while simultaneously cutting down the platform points of his opponent. The only downside of Pearson’s performance at the debate was the fact that his offensive position was admirable but a little intimidating. While a revolution sounds exciting, not all voters will want to march with this candidate into battle.
Overall, Wright wasn’t as successful at defending his platform as one would hope of a presidential candidate. Also, his experience on council paled in comparison to Pearson’s, who throughout the debate showcased his understanding of current council structures and programs – especially regarding the “What is FIMS?” campaign. Though not the better debater, Wright solidified himself as the more approachable candidate, juxtaposing his soft smile with Pearson’s raised fist.
So, FIMS voters, what do you want? The practical ally or the eloquent revolutionary?
For more of our coverage on the 2013 FIMSSC Presidential race, click here.