The Barski machine

By Lawrence Bailey

And so it comes to this. Less than 48 hours after this paper hits the stands, we will know who our 2004-05 Students’ Union representatives are–inevitable Review Board challenges notwithstanding.

And what an interesting time it has been.

We have seen the emergence of party politics, with both the Action Party and Barski’s Cabinet organizing large groups of students under one banner and campaigning as a unit. With no slight to the Action Party, it is Phil Barski, his campaign manger, his 19 fellow running mates and his hundreds of volunteers who have defined this election.

Depending on what side you take, who you support and what your vision for the SU may be, this is either a good thing or a bad thing–there doesn’t appear to be an in between.

Which brings me to the most disturbing development of the 2004 SU General Election: attack campaigns.

When it became apparent the Barski promotional machine was gaining steam, even if there was little more than steam powering it, the masses turned on him. Posters pointing out glaring flaws in his policy and a lack of knowledge of student and SU-related issues began appearing.

As someone who has believed all along that Barski would be a poor choice as president–and I have made no bones about that to anyone who was willing to ask me, Barski included–this was something I felt needed to be addressed. When a candidate who is the centerpiece of a well-organized push to gain majority representa-tion in student government shows little in the way of knowledge or ideas, students should be informed of this.

However, I worry the attacks– verbally, online and on posters–merely fueled the fire.

In a race such as this, where there is traditionally low voter turnout (around 10-13 per cent) and a general disinterest in the process, name recognition is key. In the past week, Phil Barski has become the one name on everyone’s lips, whether it be praise or, more often than not, criticism.

The result? He is the best known of any candidate running in any race.

When that fact is coupled with the fact his entire slate of candidates are running on his name, one can’t help but concede he has accomplished what he set out to do–he has made the election his own. Kudos to him and his campaign for that, it is truly a feat to dominate an election so thoroughly.

My ballot has been cast and there was only one member of Barski’s Cabinet with a checkmark beside his name. It wasn’t Phil Barski. However, I fear I am in the minority.

I don’t think he’s qualified for the position, I don’t think he has what it takes, but I am only one of a potential 25,000 voters. What I do think Phil Barski has are the eyes of the entire campus on him, and in student politics that is often enough.

While it will be known for certain shortly after this paper comes out, I believe Phil Barski will be your next SU President. Not in spite of the attacks on him, but in many ways because of them.

The politico in me tips my hat to him. Well done Phil, you’ve played the game well. But please understand where I’m coming from when I say I’m glad to be graduating.

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