Loose Cannon: CSA Election endorsements: take 'em or leave 'em
Wednesday, March 9, 201121 Comments
A talented and enthusiastic of candidates group is running to represent the CSA this year
Updated to include Human Resources and Operations Commissioner
As I've stated in the past, I love endorsements. They encourage debate and dialogue, inject a sense of excitement into elections and (I hope) give a boost to the best candidates.
I've had a chance to meet most of the candidates running in this year's Central Student Association Elections, and to learn about their platforms through interviews and questionnaires posted on thecannon. Students should take heart that a talented and enthusiastic group of candidates is running to represent you this year.
The races for Academic and University Affairs and External Affairs are particularly crowded, which makes it even more important for voters to pay attention to candidates' platforms and qualifications.
Below are my endorsements for executive positions on the CSA Board. Voters will have an up-or-down choice to acclaim the candidate running for Human Resources and Operations Commissioner.
Acclaim Joshua Ofori-Darko for Human Resources and Operations Commissioner: No
I couldn't include this section in The Ontarion's version of my column due to space constraints. Truth be told, I also struggled with this choice far more than any of the other races.
Voting against an uncontested candidate is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Essentially, it means that you think the CSA should try to find someone else for the job, which is what will happen if voters reject Joshua Ofori-Darko for the HR&O portfolio.
Having followed Ofori-Darko's campaign, I must conclude that the candidate has some serious flaws that will make it difficult for him to perform his job as HR&O commissioner. First and foremost is his ability to communicate, a skill that Oforio-Darko himself said was important for a manager to have.
Both my videographer (who shot the footage) and I agreed that Ofori-Darko's video interview was a disaster. It took 25 tortured minutes for him to record 5 minutes worth of usable footage, and he struggled to answer basic questions about his candidacy.
If it was just a case of camera shyness, it wouldn't be so bad. But Ofori-Darko was hampered by the fact that he didn't have any notes to consult. Being unprepared is a definite red-flag for any candidate running for an executive position.
I've consistently seen that Ofori-Darko, though exceedingly friendly and experienced in matters of finances, lacks confidence and assertiveness. These traits are vital to performing the Human Resources section of his portfolio - dealing with office conflict, evaluating staff and motivating employees to excel in the workplace.
Voters may choose to elect Ofori-Darko anyways, believing that he'll be able to learn these skills on the job. They may be right, but there may also be a more qualified candidate waiting in the wings if the position is re-opened in the fall. (And before anyone questions my motivations: No, I'm not running).
Communications and Corporate Affairs: Lauren Ramsay
No matter who prevails, a skilled representative is taking charge of the communications portfolio next year. Both Ramsay and Yonae Rolle are enthusiastic and well-spoken candidates who have taken on leadership positions - Rolle as Co-President of the Munford Centre and Ramsay as a programmer with Orientation Week and Peer Helper.
As an organizer of O-Week events, however, Lauren Ramsay has the added experience of networking directly with CSA staff and university administrators, in addition to being an advisor to groups planning Orientation programming. She seems more familiar with CSA policies and has concrete goals which voters should encourage her to pursue.
Local Affairs: Derek Alton
"I’m not handsome, I’m not popular, so TRUST ME, I have time for student government," wrote David Nguyen as part of his answers to thecannon's candidate questionnaire. And yet, Nguyen was one of only two executive candidates who took more than a week to respond to the call-out for video interviews (the other was Executive Affairs candidate Ali Zaki, who never replied at all).
Despite his obvious skills and experience working for the CSA, Nguyen's written answers (also late) lacked the kind of seriousness you would expect from someone who wants to take on a paid position in student government.
Derek Alton has time for student government - he's been a CSA Board member, a student senator and founder of the campus chapter of Bracelet of Hope, a Guelph-based national campaign. He takes his responsibilities seriously, while not taking himself too seriously. He will make a fine Local Affairs Commissioner.
Academic and University Affairs: Drew Garvie
You may not agree with his politics, but Drew Garvie should be given credit for mounting a serious campaign around serious issues. Garvie is a well-known activist and organizer who has served on the boards of the CSA, OPIRG and the University Centre. His campaign promises, though ambitious, demonstrate an awareness of the issues facing students.
Jessica Carter has tons of organizing experience with Orientation Week and as an elected representative on the CSAHS Student Alliance, but she seems to know little about the CSA and has only a vague platform. Benjamin Bond, though enthusiastic, offers few qualifications other than being a U of G student. That leaves Ali Zaki, who despite being a long-time student senator is a virtual spectre who seems to run for positions like the Board of Governors without attempting much outreach. At least this time around he provided written answers about his candidacy, but it's too little, too late for most students.
External Affairs: Demetria Jackson
It's rare that a current commissioner at the CSA runs for a second term. It's even rarer that a current commissioner runs for a second term in a different position.
Demetria Jackson, the current Communications and Corporate Affairs Commissioner, bucked the trend by running for External Affairs this year, and I think she should be given the opportunity to serve students again. As a commissioner, Jackson handled her portfolio well and avoided some of the more controversial slip-ups of her peers on the Executive Committee. More importantly, she managed to strike a balance on the board between those who see the CSA as an activist union and those who see it as a non-partisan provider of student services.
Martin Straathof, who already serves on the University Senate and the Board of Governors, is a well-meaning and experienced candidate. However, I can't help but notice he sounds much the same no matter what position he's running for, and I question whether his many commitments will interfere with his duties as a commissioner. Shaun Karey-Mckenna, who calls himself an "outsider" candidate and has promised to change the way the CSA operates, has some good ideas, but at the end of the day he only has one vote on the board. With his combative attitude, I question whether he will be able to convince others to support his plans.
You're welcome to agree, disagree or ignore my opinions entirely. But don't forget to engage in these elections and vote, March 14-18.
Correction: The Loose Cannon published in the March 11 issue of The Ontarion stated that David Nguyen did not respond to requests for a video interview. In fact, Nguyen's response was a week late. Thecannon regrets the error
Greg Beneteau is Editor-in-Chief of thecannon. Loose Cannon publishes every Thursday in The Ontarion Student Newspaper at the University of Guelph.
The opinions posted on thecannon.ca reflect those of their author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Central Student Association and the Guelph Campus Co-op. We encourage all students to submit opinion pieces, including ones that run contrary to the opinion piece in question