The kids are alright
By Donna MacMullin
Ryan Parks surprised a lot of people during his University Students' Council presidential election campaign by proposing to run a student in the upcoming federal election and now is the time to start bringing this promise to fruition.
During his time as president-elect, Parks has been busy making plans and rallying support for this initiative. "We plan on running three student candidates one in all three of the London ridings," he said. "Michael Rubinoff will be running in the London North Central riding, Roxanne Porter in the London East and Jerry Topolski in the London West."
So far, Parks said he has made progress in soliciting support from various sources on campus. "We also want to go to council with this, to appeal for support and their help financially," he said.
The working title of the political party for which the student candidates will run is called The Education Party of Canada.
Parks said the mandate of the party is generally to further promote issues of education in the federal election. "As a whole I don't really think educational issues have been completely addressed by parties in the past," he said, adding this was one of the primary motivations to get involved in the project.
Rubinoff said he was very excited about the opportunity. "We are still in the preliminary stages of developing policy but I think it is a great opportunity for Western students to take a leadership role in highlighting educational issues."
The candidates will also be active in dealing with other national and local issues, but the focus will be mainly towards education, Rubinoff added.
"I'm hoping the [students'] presence will further facilitate discussion among the candidates about educational issues and maybe it will act as a catalyst for candidates to take a stance on these issues," Parks explained. "Educational issues should be further addressed within the media and by the voting public."
Parks said there will be specific initiatives to develop the policy stances of the party and care must be taken to ensure there is not just a provincial focus on the educational issues at hand. "We have to do it in a way that makes sense."
Parks' primary role in the development of the campaign is to act as president of the party, although he stressed his role as USC president will still be his top priority. "We will have to bring volunteers and advisors on board for help," he said.
While the main goal is to ensure educational issues are brought to the forefront of the campaign, Parks said his role also involves ensuring the initiative will in no way damage the integrity of the student voice.
"The whole thing is really meant to benefit the student cause and I'm going to make sure everything runs smoothly."