February 17, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 76  

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Picking the next USC president

When the University Students’ Council presidential campaign began a couple weeks ago, The Gazette vowed to endorse the one candidate its editorial board felt would make the best USC president.

This was not in an attempt to influence the results, but rather an honest effort to take the election seriously and encourage free-thinking student voters to do the same.

We believe the USC president should be everything common sense would dictate: a good leader and communicator, intelligent, pragmatic, and someone with good ideas and the will to back them up.

Believe it or not, there have been years where not a single USC presidential candidate had a sufficient mix of these qualities to convince critical-thinking bystanders they were up to the job. This year there are two.

Patrick Harris and Kathy Robineau have each demonstrated they have the capacity to be a solid USC president. A debate about both these individuals reveals that Harris has the ambition needed to stand out and actually attempt to effect substantive change.

Much of the talk surrounding Harris’ campaign concerns his promise to lobby the provincial government to lower the age of majority (i.e. the legal drinking age) to 18. Albeit pickpocketed out of The Gazette’s editorial following the collapse of the Wet/Dry Program, lowering the drinking age to 18 is a legitimate student issue, particularly for the thousands of first-year students who have been socially segregated due to the double cohort.

The rest of the talk about Harris deals with his political affiliation. He served as advisor to the premier and minister of education for Ontario’s former Progressive Conservative government. However, this speaks to his experience, and his platform does not reflect his political ideology the way the platform of one of his opponents, Dave Molenhuis, reflects his New Democratic Party dogmatism.

For her part, Robineau has boatloads of USC experience. But her platform lacks anything substantive that hasn’t already been tried before.

Both of these candidates have what it takes. Both are competent and both would represent student interests when dealing with USC bureaucrats, the university administration or the provincial government.

The Gazette has been critical of the current USC leadership for its status quo approach to the year, and we would be remiss if we did not support the candidate who has all of the above qualities, as well as lofty ambition.

The question then concerns how feasible it is to get the province to lower the age of majority. It’s definitely a tough sell. Yet we’d prefer the able president that will at least try to the able president that won’t.



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