Volume 90, Issue 69

Tuesday, January 28, 1997



EDITORIAL: Slip knot sense

Part of being an effective leader is to follow the old adage which states, "lead by example."

Just because you're running for University Students' Council president does not allow you to suspend common sense in the name of spectacle.

Yesterday afternoon, presidential candidate Brian Astl filmed a segment for his TV Western commercial which saw him suspended from the second floor of the University Community Centre a few feet above terra firma.

It doesn't seem like a big deal until you look at some of the ramifications which could have resulted from the stunt. Simply put, had Astl fallen, the USC and the university would both be liable for his injuries – that can't be good for the insurance rates.

As one observer of some renown and some experience with health insurance stated, "This could have been filed in the 'It seemed like a good idea at the time' file."

It's not that presidential candidates have to be model citizens beyond reproach – far from it. Everyone running is a student and is subject to normal human mistakes and slips of judgement.

The hope is that they learn from them.

However, a part of being the students' council president is assuming the mantle of student representative. Every action a person takes in that position is placed under intense scrutiny by number of people – long-time residents, administration and fellow students. To maintain a level of credibility it is imperative to uphold the strictest levels of professionalism. It's not a far stretch to say, "The student council president did it, why can't I?"

Current USC president Dave Tompkins faced the same scrutiny last year when questioned about his checkered past – particularly in terms of his involvement in past frosh pranks.

Admittedly the temptation exists – in the great drive to impress the student body – to perform the most outlandish stunts in order to draw attention to yourself and improve their individual status and chances to win an election.

But that has to be tempered by prudence. A common sense approach is to ask oneself, "Is this what I would want another student to be doing?"

TV Western should also take care not to forego common sense in favour of ratings. It is important to weigh the safety aspect against sensationalism. No one's a professional movie maker here.

What's done is done. But this should serve to light a spark under every presidential candidate to remind themselves to take care when running a campaign. The bottom line is that substance should be the defining factor in a presidential campaign – not glitz and style.

To Contact The Editorial Department: gazed@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1997