Today, I had the opportunity to discuss a slightly more sensitive subject at Glendon, but one that is interesting nonetheless: the election of the council of the GCSU (Glendon College Student Union). Hugo ran for the position of Vice President Bilingual, but with a slightly unusual campaign. In fact, he didn’t campaign at all, but his reasoning isn’t one that stems from laziness!
You ran for the position of Vice President Bilingual, could you tell me a bit about your campaign?
Hugo: Non-existent. I mean, I campaigned without promoting my ideas and without putting up any posters; I’m trying to see how far this can go.
Do you think you have a decent chance of getting the position despite your lack of campaign?
H: Strangely, yes. There are a lot of people who have come up to me to say « Hey! I voted for you! » and I find it impressive to see the amount of people who will go vote for someone without even knowing any of the individual’s campaign ideas.
So, why didn’t you campaign to promote your ideas? Surely, it would have given you better odds.
H: Yes, but at the same time, what I want to see at the moment is a social experiment: seeing to what point people vote for friendship or popularity rather than for ideas. In fact, what I’m seeing so far is working. We’ll see the results Monday, but so far I just find it funny.
Are there any people who came to ask you what your platform was?
H: A few, but I’d say the vast majority of people came up to congratulate me and to say they were going to vote for me. Most people aren’t interested in ideas, they’re more interested in the individual which I find strange for a university.
What do you think this could say about the students? What effect could it have on the student union?
H: I think that there is a lack of initiative of the student union and a lack of change seen as the years pass. Also, I think it shows especially by the fact that it’s a popularity contest and that people are less interested by the ideas that people want to bring forward as changes to the school. What I find even stranger is that I’ve seen campaigns by other candidates recently that just confirmed my idea that people are basing there campaigns on friendship and the people around them rather than making a campaign centered on ideas and change. It strengthens my belief that says that becoming a part of the GCSU is a popularity contest. So I’m really fighting because of that.
If you’re elected, theoretically, what would you do to change this?
H: First of all, I’m not sure if I’m the right person to represent Glendon, because in the end, people voted for me because I’m popular if I’m elected and not because of my ideas. So, I’d like to see if it would be possible to redo a vote, but a vote of confidence regarding each member of council. It’s something important to see if everyone really wants the peeople who are part of the council. I mean, I find it unfortunate that a university finds itself with popularity contests, it’s something that I saw in high school, but that I didn’t expect in university. So I’d really like to promote student initiative.
Do you think this only happens at Glendon, or do you think there is something that influences the fact that it happens at Glendon, if it’s only here?
H: When I look at past years, Éric Desrochers campaigned for York University on the Keele campus and he managed to get votes and yet he isn’t somebody who is well known at Keele. So we can see campaigns at Keele, since it’s bigger, for X reasons, but that ideas pass and they grow. Glendon is so small, that I’m under the impression that it remains a popularity contest.
I think that there’s work that needs to be done in regards to young adults to make it so that they’re more educated in regards to democracy. We should invite people to vote for ideas rather than image. I’m currently proving that it’s easy to get elected. Well, we’ll see it, but that it’s possible to be elected just based on image and without a platform. My adversary, Ms Merveille, has ideas, fights for her ideas and it’s impressive. I don’t understand why people aren’t voting for her. She’s a very bright individual and she’s someone who has the capacity to be on the student union, yet people will come up to me to say they voted for me and I find that really… wow.
It’s indeed a surprising mentality to see that simply by being who you are and knowing who you know, that you can still be elected… Even if you don’t get the position, just the quantity of people that voted for you, there’s surely an important number.
Will you keep the position if you get it?
H: What I’d like to do, first of all, is a referendum to see if people truly want me on council after reading this article. I think people need to be confronted to the reality that, if I am elected, that I was elected through popularity and not based on my ideas. Then, to see if the population, after seeing what my campaign is and taking conscience that they elected me without knowing my ideas, if they still want to elect me with my ideas. So, it will always be by and for the students. There might be people who truly want me on the council based on who I am and think that I can change things, but I never said what I wanted to change. I don’t find it very representative of who I am.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
H: When I see the politics, something else I’ve noticed is a lot of buddying up – friendships that get taken into consideration. I was able to see from an outsiders perspective that there were clans that were forming. A pre-organisation of the GCSU was forming where people started to know who would be on the GCSU and what I find really unfortunate is that it isn’t representative. We tell ourselve that in a society where we apply democracy, it’s the students who will choose who they want on council, yet people already start doing power plays and befriending people to get them through. It’s more the organisation in itself that chooses it’s candidates and honestly, I find it to be a slightly revolting aspect of politics at Glendon.
Do you think that those friendships and the fact that certain candidates are elected simply because of popularity has a negative impact on the GCSU?
H: Yes, because when we look at certain positions in the GCSU, for the past few years there’s been a high turnover rate and last year there were what, 6 resignations? So we can see that it’s friends who go into the GCSU together and once one friend leaves, often a second will leave shortly after. It’s not supposed to work like that. I think that a student union should be made for students and when we decide to become part of the GCSU, it should be with the goal to improve life at Glendon.
My initiative when I did my silent campaign without pushing my platform has as a goal to create a change within Glendon, that we see the popularity contests disappear. My goal, next year, at the next election, is that it’s done for and by the students. I think that, at the moment, it’s not like that: it’s a few groups of individuals who are having fun amongst themselves holding elections and there is pressure put on the candidates that we don’t want to see.
Do you think that this pressure can affect the way members of the GCSU work together? It’s not a secret, , there are a few tensions between certain members, often because of the fact that there are people who are forced to work together despite the fact that they may not like each other very much or that they have a few personal problems. Even though, it should be cast aside, it seems that it persists in the office.
H: Honestly, I’d like to see more tension because in the end, the tensions we see prove that it’s not a single homogeneous group at work. We can see that there are different individuals that are elected from the masses, so when I see tensions, I’d actually like to see more. There aren’t enough, if it was really by and for students, it should be a group that clashes a lot.
If there were students from different settings, it would cause a positive change for Glendon because it would ensure that there are different ideas brought forward within the council. At the moment, we can see 2 or 3 groups that represent the majority and that put pressure, but I believe that it shouldn’t be 2-3 groups: it should be 6 people from different groups, seeing as many athletes as smokers as artists as nerds (if I may be allowed to call the people who like studying). Seeing different groups is what would bring about change in Glendon and that the GCSU prospers. What I see right now in the GCSU is an intrinsic group of people that display leadership, we could almost qualify them as a group of politicians, but it isn’t supposed to be a group of politicians, I’d like to see people from all settings on the GCSU.