Thursday, October 17

Independents hurt by slate unity, power


By Marcelle Richards

DAILY BRUIN SENIOR STAFF

[email protected]

If the Undergraduate Students Association Council were a
paintball game, the independent would be the paint splattered
player in the cross fire of Team Blue and Team Red, the USAC
slates.

As elections draw near and emotions run high, sometimes the
independents are the only ones who can take a step back from the
scene.

Campus events commissioner Ryan Wilson sounded beat after a day
on campus and round of mudslinging at the Tuesday USAC meeting over
who did or didn’t do what.

“I could feel the frustration from both sides,” he
said, adding he abstained from the exchanges.

“I don’t think it should be about taking
sides,” he said.

He’s a part of a disappearing breed of campus politicians,
though independents have managed to keep commissions as their
own.

Next year, the spots are secured for the four independents who
are running unopposed.

Luke Patterson, cultural affairs candidate who currently works
in the office, is the only one to run against a slate member.

“It’s always been an in-house candidate the last
couple of years,” he said.

Before slates appeared in 1995, students used to run for office
without affiliation.

After slates were formed to organize groups, everything from
council voting to campaigning has been constructed around a pack
mentality.

On campus, a swarm of red Student Empowerment! shirts try to
out-campaign the blue-shirted Students United for Reform and
Equality crowd, and vice versa.

Sometimes people forget the good the council has done, Wilson
said.

“Personally as an independent, I see where
everyone’s coming from. It’s just disappointing, the
politics,” he added.

For the current council, the division traces back to the latter
half of the year, when members started to vote along slate
lines.

Even when former president Elizabeth Houston, who served in
2000-01, took the election by surprise as an independent, her term
was rife with opposition from the Praxis slate in power.

The voting blocs are enough to make some adopt the
“if-you-can’t-beat’em, join-em” logic.

Andrew La Flamme joined the SURE slate for that very reason.

Even after he found out he was running unopposed, he decided to
stay on the slate.

LaFlamme, running a second time for financial supports
commissioner, thinks slates are bad for students and student
government, but still said running on a slate makes it easier to
effect change on council because of the voting power.

As Patterson looks forward to next year’s council, he,
like Wilson, is planning to keep the independent foothold on issues
if elected.

“Since I’m not affiliated with any particular slate,
I’m not going to be affiliated with any side,” he
said.

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