Tuesday, January 23, 2007

BoG at a Glance

We haven't written much about the BoG race. So I will.

To begin, a some candidates say, well, nothing, and offer us platforms with platitudes and no evidence of depth of analysis/understanding. That's not to say they aren't intelligent, thoughtful people; in fact, they deserve significant credit for putting themselves out there. But the BoG responsibility is one that demands a baseline knowledge and experience: you only have five meetings in the year to make an impact. That's a steeeeeeep curve.

Chris Marincat wants us to believe he's understanding and a consensus-builder, and he may well be, but there's no evidence in any of his writings to indicate that. Rob McLean wants us to vote for him because of his daddy and sister. A campaign based on nepotism - yikes. Hillson Tse, an apparently enthusiastic and energetic first-year student would clearly be out of his depth altogether on BoG. And Melody Ma has the opposite problem altogether: her platform consists of a string of grievances against the University. While they're valid and often insightful, BoG isn't the forum to change these.

We're left with four candidates. One of the three is not like the others: Tristan Markle. He has some excellent ideas, including ethical investment of the endowment, and a more democratic BoG where students (and other elected reps) can actually get motions on the agenda. However, his rhetoric betrays a radical ethic, and a somewhat careless demeanor, neither would serve him particularly well on the Board. To suggest that the voting bloc of elected members is concerned with education is to imply that the appointed members aren't; similarly, to characterize the institution as "archaic", "pompous", and its members anus' as receptacles for developers' appendages might reflect valid sentiments, but aren't likely to endear him to them. Is sucking up good policy for a BoG rep? Of course not. But nor is pissing them off. How would you respond to that?

To compare the platforms of the remaining candidates is an exercise in similarity, though there are some differences. Darren Peets brings the focus on minutiae that comes with his years of experience on campus development boards, committees, and working groups of various kinds. Aidha Shaikh understands the issues of communication, and brings an understanding of the level of strategic decision-making that takes place on Board, rather than merely getting bogged down in detailed complaints. And Jeff Friedrich's platform is one that is heavily influenced by the student political world, and well-versed in UBC lingo.

(An important side question: can one person do the job of President and BoG rep simultaneously? YES. In fact, he'd have more depth of knowledge, he might be better off. And time's not an issue; time spent learning the issues helps both jobs. There are some conflict issues, though. Jeff ought to seek some best practices guidelines on how to handle them should he win.)

Unfortunately, there hasn't been much time for the race to develop. The candidates had a forum on the first day and, since, haven't been heard from. This is unfortunate. Hear that, AMS Elections? One of the strengths of VFM is that actual issues have emerged; it's a shame that BoG (and Senate) aren't getting opportunities to engage in that discussion, at least not in the officially sanctioned way.