“How does it feel to be excluded?”
This was the most stunning moment of not only the vice-president (operations & finance) race, but perhaps the entire Myer Horowitz forum. Here’s some context for those who didn’t attend: joke candidate Donald Straump delivered his opening remarks entirely in French, excluding the non-French speakers in the audience as it were, before posing the above question in English.
I suspect that this was the punchline Straump has been waiting for this whole election, and likely what informed the creation of his character in the first place. It’s a powerful way to deliver a message about the budding disparity between North Campus and Campus Saint-Jean.
The Straump personality was an unfortunate means required to get this message across. I think that Jessie Benoit (Stroump’s real-life alter-ego) correctly ascertained that people would not listen to a legitimate Campus Saint-Jean candidate who ran on a platform of only Campus Saint-Jean related issues. Invoking Donald Trump, however, was certainly a way to turn heads.
I hope Straump has made some people realize how isolated and ignored Campus Saint-Jean students feel. Unfortunately, I doubt it will translate into tangible action in the near future, but it’s a start.
Emma Ripka had a comparatively quiet showing, discussing her intent to add more vegan options at Dewey’s and RATT, as well as reiterating her platform point of creating a skill-sharing network. The only question asked to the race was on what tangible action they would take in order to ensure equal treatment of all U of A campuses, to which she replied she would listen to councillors from those campuses and ensure Students’ Union policies reflect their needs.
While I would hardly call “listening” tangible action, I’m not sure what answer to hope for from Ripka for that question. Treating all campuses equally is not an easy feat, and the most we can expect from a VPOF is to genuinely listen to councilors and the students they represent and act accordingly.
Ripka is frustrating to write about for this very reason. Her platform isn’t bold by any metric, and her answers to questions are always the expected ones. Without a serious opponent, Ripka’s approach to the election seems to be to make herself as bland as possible. No one is forcing her to distinguish herself, so why should she?
She is impossible to criticize or to praise, but that’s not necessarily a drawback. If my biggest criticism about Ripka by the end of this election is that I don’t have any serious criticisms of her, I’ll count that as a good thing.