This past week, UNBSU president Ben Whitney, vice-president finance and operations Marc Gauvin and vice-president external Greg Bailey entered into the student newspaper’s office and read a leaked pre-publication draft of a prior article which criticized the self-serving nature of the Student Union’s upper echelon.
The executive’s actions show that they are willing to disregard the autonomy of both the student newspaper and Student Union for the sake of attempting to manipulate the debate surrounding the New Brunswick Student Alliance and council’s minutes, two things that the vast majority of students do not even know exist. If there’s going to be a scandal, at least make it over something people care about; at least give us a suspicious stain on a blue dress.
All that Mr. Whitney and friends accomplished by consciously breaching the trust of the student council, student newspaper and student body was getting a heads up that they should post council’s minutes.
Symbolically, however, the actions of Mr. Whitney, Mr. Gauvin and Mr. Bailey demonstrate a much larger point. The executive of the Student Union suffers from a crippling case of systemic incestuousness, where it is a small, isolated group of friends, scratching each other’s perpetually itchy backs.
The Brunswickan is the chief news source on the happenings of student government. Because of how Mr. Whitney, Mr. Gauvin, and Mr. Bailey have chosen to interact with the newspaper, they have called into question everything that both bodies, the Student Union and the Brunswickan, hold as their fundamental principles: transparency, professionalism and open debate.
Furthermore, by casting a shadow on the UNBSU and the Brunswickan, each of the three aforementioned individuals have consequentially also cast a shadow upon both their fellow council members and the paper’s news division, giving rise to questions of prior collusion and the blurred ethical boundaries of two entities which must work independently of each other to be successful.
Thankfully, as our Editor-in-Chief Nick Murray stresses in his editorial this week, “this has never happened before in this paper’s institutional memory and it will never happen again.”
While Mr. Whitney and Mr. Gauvin are moving on to bigger and better things, Mr. Bailey is in the race for president. No doubt, he will win – mostly because he is running uncontested.
But truth be told, I think Mr. Bailey has championed praiseworthy causes in the past. For example, during the council session of Jan. 19, 2014, Mr. Bailey encouraged the council to empower the Student Union to demand more involvement and consultation in university affairs, citing the construction of the Richard Currie athletic palace as a prime example of Eddy Campbell’s administration’s unilateral actions.
However, for people to take the Student Union seriously, the Student Union needs to take itself seriously, adopting a set of principles that value the dignity of the institution over the self-gratification of its members.
Upon the publication and subsequent reading of last week’s article, the president and vice-presidents would have been more than welcome to write into the newspaper, either independently or (more likely) as a group, demonstrating the multiple ways my arguments were unfair and plump with rhetorical fallacies. For example, in response to Mr. Bailey’s claim that he believed “no news equals good news,” I wrote, “If no news is good news then your job obviously has no relevance,” and thus proved that I obviously have no understanding of how National Defence works.
Trust me, Mr. Bailey, nobody has a better understanding of these articles’ many flaws than I do. That even goes for that guy who habitually writes grammatically gruelling comments online under the pseudonym “Fart123456789.”
However, compared to the actions of the Student Union’s president and two of its vice-presidents, Mr. Fart123456789 looks like a fairly good election candidate. Because at least Mr. Fart has the courage to put something in writing, contributing to the conversation rather than manipulating it.
That’s right, I’m saying it: I want a full term of Fart!