Last night was a new low-point for political discourse at Carleton University. What began as a slogan-shouting match between the two slates, One Carleton and Change, devolved into a hostile situation during the open questions period for the VPI (Vice-President of when a question was asked regarding alleged tweets made by a member of the Change slate in 2012 that were misogynistic and homophobic. Both sides succumbed the anger and shouting, causing the open question period to have to be ended early to avoid any conflict.
And sitting calmly among this chaos was Ruth Lau MacDonald.
I’ve been attending Carleton University since September 2012, and over the last four election cycles I’ve become increasingly jaded at the CUSA (Carleton Ungraduate Student Association) has run itself. CUSA is a system that runs off of being as opaque as possible, and thrives off of student apathy which has allowed the ruling party, One Carleton (Formerly Your Carleton [which was itself formerly called A Better Carleton]) to retain power over the last six years without having to put the effort in of being engaging to the student body. But for the first time in my academic career I was impressed by a candidate.
When other candidates were spewing out a mixture of unrealistic promises and slate slogans, Ruth was advocating for an independent voice in CUSA that was sympathetic to the needs of students. And while every candidate and their mother has said that they were sympathetic to the needs of the student body, tonight Ruth has shown that she may be the first candidate to ever mean anything by that statement. One of the pillars of Ruth’s campaign is the engage the student body, and before a vote was ever cast Ruth has fulfilled that promise. After the VPI closed debate finished, when the candidates from One Carleton and Change went off to the entourages that they had brought with them, Ruth walked around the Atrium that the debate was being held in and talked to students, hearing out their concerns instead of slipping away to hide from further questions. Even after the debates broke down, Ruth stepped away from people wanting to congratulate her to try and deescalate a conversation that was getting too heated.
CUSA is an organisation that survives off of being opaque, reactive, and unengaging. Ruth Lau MacDonald is the antithesis to this – clear, proactive, and engaging. As the tyranny of slates and echo chambers drag CUSA, Ruth offers the solutions to elevate the organisation to something close the functional.
CUSA, and the students it represents, needs to be better- and Ruth Lau MacDonald is that better. And that’s why, in this particularly bad year for student politics at Carleton, I am proud to endorse her candidacy for Vice-President Internal.