Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A thank you

I've been a little bit fed up with the most recent scandal, now dubbed "Cookie-gate", so this is a brief note to thank all the candidates for running- we recognize the work you put into it, and appreciate that you're willing to face up to the scrutiny that accompanies running for office.

Most of the average students I've talked to are impressed by your willingness to put yourself out there. In previous campaigns, and in this one, we have seen people make fun of others, to slander them, to spread false rumours and reports. I'm continually impressed by candidates who are willing to put themselves under the scrutiny of bloggers and others who are willing to critique, sometimes unkindly, the candidates. I'm impressed that people are willing to have others launch personal attacks against them, and who still put themselves out there because they want to make a difference. I personally don't believe that campaigns should become personal- I feel like it's enough that candidates have to be educated about issues, put together platforms, defend them, etc.. Attacking people who have decided to try their hand at student politics and potentially improve something on campus only sends the message to other UBC students to not get involved, thus perpetuating the problem of the lack of student involvement in the AMS. We ask ourselves why students don't care, why they don't take interest and don't vote- and perhaps it is because most want to avoid the drama of student politics. So I think it's really important to recognize the candidates who do come out of nowhere, the candidates who aren't political hacks and don't know what they might be facing during an election campaign.

I've talked to a lot of students during this election. Many ask me why the campaigns are so mean-spirited, or tell me they don't want to get involved precisely for this reason. I've also talked to some of the candidates, all of whom have been really nice (and yes, this could be just because they're running, but I've heard the same from people who have known them for longer than I have). I think a lot of people don't realize that things said during this election campaign aren't just lost forever once the campaign is over. As someone right pointed out, things said in cyberspace tend to stay there, so a falsehood could potentially hurt someone in their career rather than just in an election. So I think that treating all candidates with a bit of respect would serve everyone well- not just the candidates themselves, but students at large, and the AMS. People tend to stay away from things that are unpleasant- I don't think this is a big revelation. So perhaps making student politics more pleasant would go a long way in encouraging students to get involved with the AMS.

So candidates- thank you. I realize it's not easy, I appreciate that people are willing to make the effort, and I admire your ability to stand up for yourselves.