Prior to elections week, I anticipated that the AMS Candidates would be pulling out all the stops to petition their peers for votes. Knee-deep into elections week, there are many different approaches one has to choose from while campaigning, including posters, social media and fervent door knocking. My favourite is candidates giving a two-minute pitch of an abbreviated platform from lecture to lecture.
But I didn’t see the full potential of AMS campaigning until last night.
Getting the average UBC student to vote for you tricky. But getting the first-years to vote requires a whole other type of approach. While travelling between first year residences, Orchard Commons and Place Vanier, I witnessed what some AMS hopefuls had decided on to remedy this problem: candy. On three separate occasions, three candidates petitioned me for votes using chocolate.
While I sat at my table, engaged in a passionate internal debate about whether or not I should get dessert, the process of democracy told me “yes” as a candidate strolled towards me with a partly broken bag overflowing with Aero bars. While I was told never to take candy from strangers, this was a student politician — they’re not a stranger. Their face is plastered everywhere.
It was like Halloween all over again, except I didn’t have to do any work. I grabbed a candy bar from the pile the candidate had dumped on my table when out of the corner of my eye, I spotted another candidate’s face on a business card stapled to a familiar metallic orange plastic wrapper. An Airhead! Snatching the orange candy from the neighbouring table, I revelled in the pile of goodies that had appeared before me. This, I thought, this is student government.
Moving to Place Vanier, I had hardly settled in my seat before a n o t h e r candidate approached me, tossing more chocolate on my table. Nearby, I overheard yet another trying to engage students as well. But all he had to offer was a sticker that had a picture of a puppy and his name on it. Sorry dude, but if other candidates are petitioning me with Airheads and KitKats, a puppy sticker just won’t suffice.
So, in a desperate attempt to secure some of those early votes and propel student engagement, I appreciated that some candidates recognized the need to engage first years in student government. But the fact that you’re plying me with candy is pretty telling about what you think my capacity for thoughtful democratic decision making is! Try harder. I want cake and home-baked cookies.