“Vote [insert name], vote UTM [insert keyword],” reads the campaign material that pollutes my Facebook newsfeed. I smile.
Before you and I were students on this campus, there was Yellow, and Yellow decided it liked the then newly built Student Centre way too much to ever let go. Yellow was clever, to say the least: it built a team of students with strong political interest. If this was Greek mythology, then these early student leaders were gods.
To be fair, they worked tirelessly and hard and the efforts showed. The turnout to most events was consistent—this was before the days of social media—and strong. Yellow prided itself on having built this from nothing. However, as with all things, change happened. Yellow, however, only liked the change that it brought about, so it sought to resist the rest.
It was easy in the beginning, really. The only opposition would come from students who had no track record in student politics and were comfortably walked over by Yellow and its team. However, Yellow anticipated competition in the future, so it sought to squash it prematurely. This gave birth to the caucus.
The caucus was an informal group consisting of student group leaders with the most outreach to the student body. The caucus decided to screen their candidates and put them through an interview before the nomination period to achieve two things: it ensured the strongest candidates made it through and let the losing candidates know that they would face a monumental task in gathering votes. Before the nomination period had even begun, teams were decided, campaign materials were published, and the race was effectively over. There was some discontent, but it was always kept internal. Yellow preached family and ties and any problems were nipped in the bud. Yellow also sought to befriend the loudest frosh leaders, the first-year students with aims of changing the world, and the previous executives.
However, gradually, there was a decline in the quality of the executives and Yellow thrived on exercising control. It was Yellow’s master plan and it was proud of it.
In 2009, two things happened that upset Yellow: a former executive joined The Medium, and a group of students on the union’s board of directors showed their intentions by coordinating a failure to approve the agenda for a board meeting because agendas had been sent out the night before at 4 a.m. Yellow had been around long enough to know this would be an ugly year. It did not foresee how dirty it would get.
Hacked emails, malicious slander, threatening phone calls, and tense faceoffs ensued. The campus bled. There was Yellow and there was Blue. Students were legitimately confused. Blue was made up of the same people that had worked with Yellow. However, Yellow’s experience shone. It manoeuvered Yellow to a strong victory. The meeting to ratify the results was the highest-attended meeting of possibly all time—hell, it was even videotaped. Words flew and the board voted in favour of ratifying the results. Yellow had successfully managed to ridicule and alienate Blue.
In the grander scheme of things, it squashed any competition for the foreseeable future. Yellow had won just like it did many years ago and has enjoyed a peaceful term since. Any time talk of a competition is brought up, people talk about Blue and think twice. Yellow, in all likelihood, will still be there when you are done with this campus.
“Why?” I hear you ask. I don’t know for sure, but I can certainly refer to select past events to shed some light on potential reasons.
The arrest of a UTSU executive for the Gardiner protest in 2009. UTMSU introduced a motion to successfully donate our student money towards the legal fund to fight the case for the said executive. It would not have happened under a different regime.
The donations UTMSU made to the Canadian Arab Foundation “in solidarity”. The chair for the board in 2009 was closely involved with CAF.
The presence of Canadian Federation of Students campaigners at UTM to campaign against Blue. It’s like me coming to your house and telling you whether to side with your mom or dad in case of a disagreement.
The caucus, a group of individuals deciding a team before the nomination period and making every effort to keep this off the record. Any time anyone is comfortable taking an action that affects the public but would like to keep it off the record sets warning bells ringing in my mind.
That’s just a few that jump to mind. I would say I’ll let you decide for yourselves in this upcoming election period, but only 5% of you can think for yourselves anyways.
Till next time.