On Campus

The student candidate video everyone's talking about

It's good, but also reinforces the idea that students politics are a popularity contest

I’ve been watching with some interest Internet discussions about a campaign video commissioned by Emily Rowe in her run for student president at The University of Western Ontario.

The video is play on the Discovery Channel’s popular “Boom De Ya Da!” ad. Instead of the world, the players in the video love Western.

It has gained widespread attention and is presently in the top 100 Canadian videos in its category on Youtube.

Wassim Garzouzi’s assessment is dead-on. Does the ad say anything about the candidate? No.  It makes people feel good and, I agree with Wassim, it will result in people voting for her.

Does this matter? Yes and No. It reinforces the impression that students politics are a popularity contest. Yet, that isn’t much different than “real world” politics.  Don’t get me wrong, the ad is effective but could have (as pointed out by a commenter at iwillrun.ca) included a website address or some contact information.

The video is a stroke of genius in finding a great pop culture campaign and modifying it for your own campaign. (If I were university admin, I would try to assist this video in becoming viral after the USC election.)

Student elections generally have little of substance instead focusing on buzzwords and pop culture.

Having read the USC candidates websites (as listed by the USC website) this afternoon, I see many of them are following the national trend of throwing out unoriginal buzzwords about sustainability, environmentalism, and better communication.

One candidate suggests a UWO wiki, there an interesting idea I haven’t seen elsewhere. However, this same candidate uses the three environmental Rs as the structure of her campaign. Another candidate takes the “I’m green” to the next level; she has a campaign poster of herself leaning on a recycling bin. Two other candidates give a knod to the green fad while not going overboard; after all, students are electing a SU president, not Captain Planet. Both list achievable goals. Refreshing.

(The other candidates don’t have websites listed on the USC website yet.)

Considering the USC is Canada’s largest student union when measured by revenue, one would hope for more ideas and lobbying plans.

That said, the real challenges a student leader will face during the year are unexpected and unpredictable. It is impossible to predict who will be able to raise to those challenges.

Back to the video. It’s not just getting noticed for its catchy use of pop culture. The original version had one minor, but embarrassing, error. When referring to Western’s orientation week, it used footage from Wilfrid Laurier’s orientation. The video was quickly removed, but not before people jumped on the error and a Facebook group entitled “Emily Rowe Loves Her Laurier.” It seems a group of Laurier students are having too much fun with the error.