Volume 93, Issue 69

Wednesday, February 2, 2000


Take a bite out of crime

A little human touch

A little human touch

For about 20 minutes Monday night the candidates running in the University Students' Council presidential race were people again.

On an evening which included a near fight between candidates at one forum, a simple question at another forum seemed to erase the mounting tension created by one week of political jarring.

During the forum which was held at Westminster College, the USC's VP-campus issues Perry Monaco asked the candidates to be themselves. He asked the group of nine in attendance to remain seated, set their political jargon and car salesmen voices aside and tell the gathered group of nearly 50 students their names, backgrounds and reasons why they chose to do their undergraduate degrees at Western. Monaco was asking the candidates to talk with the audience – not to the audience.

The request prompted one of the candidates to respond that this was the toughest question he had heard in a week full of challenging questions. And the reason was simple. There was no stand in front of the mirror and rehearsed answer.

The candidates were ready for questions regarding tuition fees and the looming double cohort. However, in this case, the candidates were forced to be themselves.

During the ensuing 20 minutes, the presidential candidates gelled with the audience. They got to make fun of their home towns, a few of them telling the crowd Western's campus was in fact larger than the town in which they grew up. Some also spoke of fears they felt in their first days on campus.

As well, the candidates told the audience stories of why they chose Western. Answers ranged from the campus' sheer beauty, through to inspirational Western alumni. One candidate told how a party weekend designed to gain the "Western experience" prior to attending Western, made him realize there was nowhere else he could go.

Regardless, all the answers provided a piece of the candidates which could not be heard through campaign promises and campaign voices.

Looking around the room, it was evident the question had hit a nerve. The candidates had connected with the audience on a different level. Students seemed genuinely interested in the person they were electing and not simply what issues they were putting into office.

When the Western community gets set to electronically make their selection on Feb. 9 and 10, there is no doubt issues and a candidates platform should top their list of priorities. However it is important, as Monaco noted, not to forget the importance of personality.

The students at Westminster got a true taste of nine of the men Monday night. Hopefully everyone who votes will be able to see the group on this level at some point during the campaign.

Often the issues which separate the contenders in an election of this kind are indistinguishable and getting to know them personally, even if only on a minor level is vital in the decision making process.

All too often, politicians seem to hide behind their policies. Personality is a huge part of leadership and can not be overlooked. And anyway isn't the purpose of this whole thing to choose a leader?

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Copyright The Gazette 2000