EDITORIAL: Federal assault
A good opportunity is a terrible thing to waste.
As the 1997 federal elections approach swiftly and the University Students' Council assembles its political swat team of three student candidates, a number of questions of strategy, or potential lack thereof, are lingering in the musky London air.
The USC, as a part of council president-elect Ryan Parks' plan to use a federal student campaign as a means to promote Western's concerns about education, will be running a student candidate in each of London's three federal ridings.
The idea is sure to attract a lot of initial media attention. Students in three of Alberta's universities considered the idea during their provincial elections and while the idea never came to fruition, their education platform attracted national media attention. If Western's plan actually sees the light of day, the public awareness campaign could be even greater.
However, the students running as candidates have to be well-versed in a variety of issues in order to be taken seriously and to attract the media attention they desire. Newspapers and television stations will not bother with a one-issue candidate for long and will quickly grow tired of a platform if it only pertains to education. During candidate forums, the students will be quizzed on everything from the federal budget to health reform to the pension plan.
Don't know? Don't care.
If the student candidates come across as being well-spoken, not just on educational issues, their platform could be very effective. People will take notice.
The three candidates must have a consistent policy as well. They must maintain the same level of sincerity and knowledge and not contradict each other in order to keep the campaign effective. Income-contingent student loans, protests and occupation of presidents' offices and tuition deregulation must be issues all three take the same stance upon.
Also, the USC, although representative of Western's top political minds, does not necessarily reflect the educational views of every student on campus. Thus, with the intentions to make a unified statement to London's voters for the benefit of Western's students, an effort must first be made to ensure the voices of actual students are heard. Otherwise this is a USC campaign and not entirely a Western one.
A lot of questions must still be answered. Where will the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations fit into the picture? How much of a balance will be maintained between provincial concerns and the concerns of every Canadian student across the country? With an election expected to be announced for June, the party must scramble to get all of its political eggs in the basket.