By Erin Sikora
Some of you may have read my earlier post about the intense University of Victoria Students' Society (UVSS) elections this year. I was going to end my commentary of the whole ordeal there but I was persuaded by some friends to submit an opinion piece for the student newspaper, the Martlet, after Erica Virtue, newly elected Director of Services, wrote one and quoted me waaaay out of context. Big mistake. The result was a hack-job of the opinion piece that I sent them and just over 400 words to Erica's over 600 words.
Let's just say that I am less than impressed and I have learned a valuable lesson.
Below is my original piece. Enjoy.
Because Students Deserve Better
I tried to write a balanced opinion piece on how this new UVSS board should work together and move forward but I must admit that I have failed miserably. I have failed because I did not come up with a balanced piece. I have an opinion, and it matters.
Last year I had a very tough election experience. I worked my ass off for two weeks and I won by a tiny margin along with only a couple other members of my slate. Adding salt to the wound, the opposing slate was run behind the scenes by my real-world nemesis, Dallas Henault, the president of the BC Young Liberals at the time.
I was worried about my new colleagues but I made a point of trying to get along with them all. As soon as I got to know the members of the other slate, my concerns were allayed. They were all just students who, like me, had an opinion and wanted to get involved with the UVSS to serve our fellow students. There were some tense moments this past year, and definitely some moments where I felt marginalized, but for the most part, we all worked well together. I even became friends with some of them.
Things are a little different now. Fast forward to this year's election night: when Erica Virtue, ACT Now candidate and new UVSS Director of Services realized she was going to win but that most of her slate-mates would not, she unfortunately, did not react very well. Visibly upset, she told all of the observers in Vertigo that she did not want to work with "those people." On top of this, many ACT Now candidates quite publicly put down Team FAST and their supporters, calling them "hippies" and "deadbeats." The whole election was pretty ugly.
I have experienced the bitter-sweet taste of winning while seeing many friends losing. Not fun. But once elected, you have to show some respect for the students who voted, for you and for the other UVSS directors with whom you will be serving your term. The election is over; now is the time to build bridges. Because students deserve better, I have a couple of suggestions on where to start:
Stop the name-calling and give up on the battles that you have fought and lost. For instance, you may be very angry that there was a National Student Day of Action, but you have to accept that the majority of students do not share your anger. If they did, then the ACT Now campaign against the Day of Action would have resulted in more people voting for the slate. The truth is that although only 500 or so students showed up to the legislature, many more wish they had gone or are at least glad that there was a Day of Action.
Above all, new directors, remember that your opinion matters, and many students may even share your opinion, but other, sometimes differing, opinions matter too.