"Student politics is so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small."
Was Kissinger ever right.
Tuesday's viciousness involved the Students' Legislative Council as the Vice-President Academic, Rosie Nagra, brought impeachment hearings against Academic Commissioner Gavin Preston. I sat and watched, and laughed as the entire proceeding (which I might add would cost the organization more than ten times the cost of the accused offence), took place for over four hours. In all my years representing students, I had never seen anything waste more time than this.
As I type this at 2 a.m. following the meeting, I'm left wondering: why does this feel so incomplete? You see, your representative body decided that Mr. Preston "sort of" broke bylaws, and was "sort of" accountable for his actions. Apparently, he lied about his pay for one month-although it seemed to me that he accounted for his hours in his report rather explicitly-so they instituted the weakest "I've-got-no-balls-but-I-have-to-do-something" form of punishment available: censure.
That's right, your elected officials, all but three of whom were acclaimed, assumed Mr. Preston lied in council, so they put him on the rack, torturing him worse than anyone would suggest. They are making him write that he's sorry for saying things in the public record that were slightly foolish.
Let me test your business ethics here and play a game of "lets be a SU representative." I give you $250, and you imply that you didn't deserve that $250 even though you did account for it in your monthly report.
From there, I accuse you of stealing it, and take you to court because you stole money I just handed to you. I don't know what Haskayne School of Business you're attending, but it seems quite fucked up to me. This is the problem with student politics.
The blur of right and wrong ensures that no one can make up his or her mind, which in the end leads to diddly-squat. As such, it begs wannabe politicians to think they're doing something good for students by enacting a draconian apology letter that means nothing to everyone involved simply because the stakes are so small. Congratulations, SLC, for making yourselves feel good while doing absolutely nothing for students.
I don't know how anyone sitting around the table voting can be happy with themselves after a gong show like this. What have you solved? You've fucked yourselves over. Although Gavin will write "I'm sorry" on a piece of paper, the angst in council won't end. The best piece of advice that I can provide SLC is to let your feelings about this case go and move on to the future. Separate the personal from the professional and forget about what happened as you're on your houseboat retreat at the end of September. If you let this drag on throughout the year, you're only proving you're failing to represent the students who acclaimed you (for the most part) into the svelte, sexy positions that you're in.