Issues and Interest Groups

Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.” -Otto Von Bismark

First off, I’d like to say that candidates should Take the Pledge. The AUS is an organization which is facing some very serious operative problems. I suppose the AUS is kind of like California – the biggest, but also with the biggest hurtles to raising student fees (a higher absolute quorum requirement), and one of the lowest budgets. When the ACF debt was applied to the AUS, it was left with an incredibly diminished capacity to serve Arts students, stalling a number of projects and initiatives that were to happen during the year.

The AUS, at it’s Monday council meeting, has promised to support all those candidates who take the ACF Pledge, which reads:

I will support a motion at AMS Council to forgive $35,062.04 from the AMS to the AUS to cover the accumulated debt from Arts County Fair.

I have thought that this was the right thing to do for a long time. I also think that this motion is going to be the start down a road that will eventually lead to the recreation of the size and awesomeness of ACF.

Now, the AUS is promising support in exchange for a position on an issue. I don’t think that this is an unreasonable action to be taking. If the candidates do not think that the support of the AUS is valuable, or will help them win, they should take that into consideration before signing it – the AUS is not forcing anyone to do this, and is applying equal standards of communication when deciding on who they will be supporting.

It’s a much worse thing when clubs apply inconsistent standards. While the statement that was made by the International Business Association was technically true, it was misleading. A good summary of the events can be found at UBC Spectators. The AUS was clear in that it would support any and all candidates who put their names on the pledge. The fact of the matter is that this revelation probably won’t make that much of a difference – the IBC endorsed these candidates not for the general population, but for their own members, and so the process won’t matter that much.

Bijan is another person who has been caught up in some kind of endorsement imbroglio. I want to say off the bat that Bijan has done nothing wrong in my opinion. Sure, the way he went about it had all the grace and delicacy of a drunken draft horse, but the principle of this is exactly the same: Interest groups on campus support candidates based on expectations of support for their issues. The only thing that is different here is that Bijan was specific about the kind of quid pro quo relationship that has always existed in politics, student or otherwise.

I don’t think it’s impossible to hold a value or a position but not prioritize it. On Board, the votes at the final stage are largely ceremonial – it’s the work behind the scenes that counts. If you want someone to support you and your issues in the work that they do, your support will probably go a long way towards making that happen. Just look at Arts – the promise of it’s support has garnered a huge response from candidates eager to capitalize on the postering abilities of the AUS, and the AUS has assurances that it will no longer be hobbled by debt.

That’s just the way it works.


I am delighted to say that the videos are now almost done. We will be releasing them as soon as I can get them all compiled and uploaded to YouTube (a process running in the background as we speak, but delayed somewhat because of the damn Penalty Box).


2 Responses to “Issues and Interest Groups”

  1. 1 Ashley
    January 28, 2009 at 10:13 am

    I assume you’re talking about the Resnet Penalty Box?

    Fun fact: If you log into the UBC VPN, the Resnet doesn’t recognize you as being connected through it, and the penalty box doesn’t apply!

  2. 2 Gossip Guy
    January 28, 2009 at 2:53 pm

    GG’s page now proudly displays the pledge.

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