I always thought university campuses are a reflection of the country they are in. Take UTM. Like Canada, it has a small, yet diverse population. Its members like to grumble about things, yet are proud that they come here—how else can you explain their defensive reaction when others look down on UTM?
Moreover, UTM and Canada have their own police, their own newspapers and their own administrations. Lastly, both UTM and Canada have their own politicians—in our case, we have the UTMSU executives.
Of all the UTM segments I referred to, none tries so much to differentiate itself from its national counterpart as the UTMSU. The Union protests on the streets. The Union purports to strive for change rather than preserve the status quo. And rather than donning suits and ties, the Union’s executives make a point to dress in student-like attire—some even add a slanted baseball hat to their outfit.
But for all their efforts, some UTMSU executives behave remarkably like the very people they are trying to differentiate themselves from. This year alone, the Union has been featured prominently across these pages for donating student’s money toward the legal defense counsel of a colleague, for mismanaging proxy votes and for deregistering one student from a conference because of her affiliation with different campus organization (us) and the cost involved in sending her there. If you think it all sounds too much like your regular old’ scandal-ridden political party, you’re not alone.
The Union’s latest escapade involves interfering with the nomination process of candidates for next year’s ticket. Of course, if you listen to what the executives involved in this antic have to say, that’s not what they were doing. Not at all. When these executives secretly met with the presidents of the largest students clubs on campus, weeks before the nomination process began, in a room that no ordinary UTM student can access, it was not to get these presidents to persuade their club’s members to vote for a specific UTM executive. It was just to seek their input.
There are many reasons why the whole thing stinks. It stinks because the incumbent government is throwing its weight behind the candidate it favours, thereby reducing the chances of any other student winning, especially students who are currently not associated with UTMSU. It stinks because if the UTMSU really thought caucus meetings like the last few were open and fair, it would make them part of its elections procedure code, opening them for all students regardless of how close they are to the Union or how many members their club has. As it is now, your average UTM students only seems to stand a chance, elections-wise, if he or she runs a large club and if he’s privy to secret UTMSU-organized meetings.
Sounds just like what many an ordinary citizen has to say about the way their nation is run.