Volume 96, Issue 75
Thursday, February 12, 2003

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Digging for gold and a USC president

Between Lines
Tait Simpson
Opinions Editor

I'm trying, I really am. Often I don't, but this time I'm going all out. I'm trying to be knowledgeable and informed about the University Students' Council presidential race. It's my third year; I attend class and can give directions to lost students about how to find the USC office. Surely, I can get to the bottom of the six candidates running for USC president and figure out who would be best-suited for the job.

So, I grabbed all the pamphlets from candidate supporters on campus. I read all the words eagerly – well, most of them anyway. I graded the logos – that big varsity looking "Y" for Paul Yeoman looks cool, perhaps he's my guy. I tried to learn what Brook Dyson's four points were. I tried to see what the connection was between Neil Uttamsingh – not a strapping jock looking fellow – and his hockey-inspired campaign logo. Did I want to hear the scream of Myron "the siren" Belej scream? Perhaps I did.

I was interested in the parking problem. A candidate thinks the USC should take a stance on Iraq. Alright, let's hear what he has to say. I say "he" because there are no women running. So much for the feminist vote.

I shook hands with a few candidates – a firm handshake is not a bad start. I spoke to the USC big shots who actually know what's going on. "They don't know what they have to do as president," replied one vice-president. "It's about knowledge of the system and character."

Alright, so I'm looking for knowledge and character. But they all purport to be about what the average student wants. They don't want to talk about their platforms; they want to listen to the all-important average student. But I know average students, and they don't want many things other than to be left alone. They sure don't want to take a year off and run a complex body like the USC.

My efforts to understand the campaign have taken time. Last week, I went to a USC forum. I sat in the chairs with the USC councillors and T-shirt wearing supporters. I took my lunch; I was ready to listen.

A student asked why the candidates' didn't have their platforms written right on their T-shirts. He didn't think it would make for ugly shirts and wanted a few hundred words on each shirt. I didn't understand the reasoning for this, but I sat and listened. I imagined I would be wiser for listening to all six answers. The question was then worded differently by the same gentleman and asked again. Again I listened, waiting for my candidate to emerge.

On Monday, the candidates debate was still going on 135 minutes after it began. Current USC President Chris Sinal sure is thorough with his questions, I thought. I guess he's determined to prove that whoever gets that couch in his office will be as worthy as he was.

On the subject of intramural fees, candidate Mohamed Al Sabawi said, "I don't play intramural sports, but I have friends who do," before joining the bandwagon of candidates expressing the views of "average students." "I'm not informed, but I know people who are," might also have fit well. I know average students who play intramural hockey on Friday afternoons hungover and think the $80 fee for the whole season is a pretty sweet deal.

I don't want to be an apathetic voter, but I'm struggling, and I'm not alone. The dozen or so students not wearing candidate T-shirts at the debate had a look on their face that said, "I've just walked into the wrong class and I don't understand." I've got a week though; my level of knowledge can only increase. I'll let you know how it goes.

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