Emotion ruins holiday campaign

By Rob South

Every day of our lives we hear or learn something that upsets us. The challenge we often face is how to use the energy that anger creates without responding in an emotional and unproductive way. Last week, when I heard that some clubs are boycotting the annual Holiday Food Drive because of the Students’ Union’s inability to complete the long-promised new club office space, I faced such a challenge.

This challenge arose because I perceived the situation as being created by several club executives reacting in an emotional and unproductive manner to a legitimate complaint with the SU. I say this because it appears their intent was to hurt the SU when in fact the real people hurt are Calgary’s hungry. It is a little known fact that due to good management the Campus Food Bank has a signiŽcant nest egg in its bank account, mostly because of the success of previous Holiday Food Drives. As a result, it planned to donate two-thirds of the revenues from this year’s Food Drive to the Interfaith Food Bank downtown.

So the result of this boycott, intended or not, is that there is less money to feed the city’s poor because revenues which clubs could have canvassed from their fellow students were lost. This is reprehensible. Sadly, the impact of the boycott decision will not even be visible for a few months because Food Banks usually receive large donations of food during the holidays, but when things run thin in the summer they rely on cash reserves.

Admittedly, some clubs made the decision not to participate in the SU’s Holiday Food Drive but said they would make donations in subsequent weeks. Unless they can ensure their donations will match the amount they could have raised from the student body in donations from tables around campus, they are still hurting the poor. And the point has to be made again that these small-scale politics are not affecting the SU in any way.

In the end, the only productive response I could muster to this stupid boycott was to write this column. I have not identified any particular clubs for two reasons. The first is simply that not many people are willing to talk "on the record" about this. The second reason is that maybe by keeping the discussion at a quieter level, club members will question their own exec as to why they didn’t participate in the Food Drive. Sure, some didn’t because a lack of club space has reduced their ability to organize, but some were playing petty politics. I only hope this column starts a discussion in some clubs, because otherwise I have been emotional and unproductive too.

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