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I screwed up. I’m sorry.
I’ve been thinking about how to respond to all of your criticisms to my “No to Movember” article all week—to be honest, I’ve been thinking of little else. If you thought me too much of a callous asshole to care, trust me when I say that I care. I care as as a masthead member of this paper. I care as a writer. Mostly, though, I care as a human being.
I’ve found there are certain issues that you can’t take a stance on without seeming callous in some way, issues where the wellbeing of one group is tied, in some way or other, to the suffering of another group. If you feel one way, you’re being callous towards the first group. If you feel another way, you’re being callous to the other.
When every human life is important, how do you decide whom to prioritize? Whose lives are more important when all lives are important? How do you tell someone that his life or her life is less important?
The reality is that many people in the world face being told that—explicitly or implicitly—every day. We may not see these people, or that they are being told this, but that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. If anything’s callous, I think it’s callous that we ignore that fact. That was the thought that was driving my piece.
But that idea doesn’t mean I have—or anyone has—the right to tell sick, suffering and dying people that their suffering is less valid, or less important, than someone else’s. If they have lived privileged lives thus far, that is not any more their fault than anyone else’s lack of privilege.
It’s reductionist logic that equates less suffering with no suffering, that equates more privilege with extreme privilege, and while that may serve politicians or demagogues well, it doesn’t serve me, or The Link, well at all.
With matters like this—when human lives are involved, and people have lost friends and family members, I owed it to everyone, and myself and my fellow masthead members, to be tactful, thoughtful and considerate when making my points.
My “No to Movember” article last week was none of those things. I got caught up in the issue. I got the sense that some lives were being prioritized over others and it made me angry, as my stance made so many of you angry, too. We are passionate human beings. That’s one of the things that makes being alive so exhilarating.
It’s incumbent on me, as a writer for a newspaper, no matter how big or how small, to hold myself to a higher standard than simply being passionate, though. The Link possesses the means to distribute the words that its writers produce in ways that the average person does not.
Link articles get printed 10,000 times, and get posted on a website that people visit of their own accord, looking for things to read. Often they are Tweeted to hundreds of followers. In that position, it’s my responsibility to take into account the effect my words will have.
I didn’t do that last week. It made me look bad, and it made The Link look bad. It also angered, hurt and shocked a great number of people—far more people than have ever read anything I’ve written before.
I regret that for so many people, their introduction to me and to The Link was that article. I believe we’re both better than that—a lot better.
To those people whose moods or days I ruined, I’m sorry. In the last decade, two relatives of mine have been diagnosed with cancer, but I’ve never dealt with the day-to-day of it the way some of you have.
I’ve been lucky enough to be relatively unmarked by the power of cancer to destroy lives, to eat holes in happy families. That made me less careful when I was writing the article, both in my word-choice and in my arguments.
As I’ve learned this week, there are cogent, intelligent, mature ways to take issue with Movember that don’t devolve into angry, caustic posturing. There are ways to make a controversial point that don’t insult or belittle people fighting for their lives, and their loved ones.
I got caught up in my own head. I thought I was writing an intellectual piece, because I was espousing an opinion I hadn’t seen anyone make before. But I was just being emotional, and my anger led me to write things I shouldn’t have written.
I forgot about the reader. I wasn’t expecting this many people to ever read the article, but that’s no excuse for writing a bad article, or an extremely offensive article. Mine was both, unfortunately. I’m sorry.
I had a bad week this week. Every day I woke up to new messages telling me how wrong I was, and how insensitive and callous I’d been from people all over the world that my piece had moved to words.
I know that I deserved the backlash, but the thought that kept coming back to me was this—I don’t have anything to complain about.
I am the privileged North American male that my article was quick not to feel bad for. I knew that when I was writing it, but it hit home much harder when I was facing the heat.
So I did what befits a person facing valid criticism—I took my own advice and dealt with it.
I donated some money to a cause I’ve been supporting for two years now, I vowed never again to write something so cheap and shallow and spitefully antagonistic, I took the time to be thankful for the wonderful friends and family that I have, and the freedom and opportunity afforded me by the country I live in and the opportunities I’ve been given, and I wrote this piece.
Activists and CSU councillors took to the streets on Halloween to scare the Charest government into backing down on planned tuition hikes.
Concordia Libraries inaugurated an iPad loan service on Oct. 20. The service allows any Concordia student, faculty member or staff, provided they don’t have any unpaid library fees over $5.00, to borrow iPads for a three-day period. There are currently 20 tablets available at the downtown library, and 5 at Loyola.
You can install all the apps you want, provided you have an iTunes account, but—even more exciting—you can read The Link on it! While, the paper version is already beautiful, on an iPad, it’s truly magical. Articles, info-graphics, photos and the overall design of the paper look beautiful on the glossy, 9” screen.
To check the availability of iPads, click here
The Link has been going around taking sneaky (and not so sneaky) photos of Orientation events around campus. Check them out here.
The CSU election process is relentless. Until the 31st of March rolls around and election results are counted, contested, complained about, and conceded to, we are all going to be inundated with campaign materials.
Posters for the two slates are up, Facebook is drowning in status updates about candidates, and perhaps the flashiest efforts of all, the campaign videos, are now in circulation. And you know what? I graduate this semester.
I am taking six classes. I am bound up by commitments I made at an earlier point that keep me from absorbing all of this election information. I am just too fucking busy to take the time out to think through everything that Your Concordia and Action are promising.
But those videos! I am at my computer all the time these days. If I can’t peruse every campaign website, review every platform, or speak with the candidates themselves, I can give up 10 minutes of my time to let their videos speak to me. Isn’t this why the slates made videos in the first place?
These YouTube gems stand in for more in-depth research.
They are the quick-fix way to communicate campaign promises, sort of like campaign cheat sheets, giving us viewers a few important bits of information so that when (if?) we choose to vote in the CSU elections, at the very least, we are capable of differentiating between the slates on our ballot.
These videos might be the only first impression Your Concordia and Action get to make to the larger student population. So what do these videos tell us about the potential future of Concordia and its student governance? Here is what I took away:
Action is smart! Action is diverse! No, Action is fun (but responsible)! Action stands out! Action is hot! Action really loves Duck Sauce!
The two minutes and thirteen seconds of the Action campaign video are all flash. These are candidates that want to make sure we know exactly how much fun they are. This is high gloss, low content. I’ve seen the outside of Loyola.
I’ve lost myself to the throbbing bass beat of “Barbara Streisand” somewhere between The Hive and Le Gym (not actually), I’ve been a part of amped up video montages featuring boisterous laughter and uncontrollable street dancing hijinx.
I, too, have driven down Saint Catherine late at night, intoxicated by the glow of shop lights.
Watching the Action video, I am reminded that my time at Concordia has been one, long, indistinguishable string of black-out parties. Library building? Never heard of it.
To be fair, I got in contact with Action to ask why the video was structured and edited to feature little more than repeated candidate cameos (laughing and hugging and just having SO MUCH FUN, of course) with the occasional nipple twist and shout-out from Mr. Boustan.
The answer was simple: Concordia is a creative school with a huge investment in student life.
But student life, Action, has demanded a lot more from me than an ability to sing the chorus of this year’s biggest dance music earworm. I don’t get the chance to go to all of these student (funded) parties, because I have a full course load, and I work, and I’ve been applying to graduate school, and I give my time to my own department and its students.
Beyond that, I pay out of province tuition, from which the CSU, this year alone, got about $60 worth of funding.
My issue, Action, is that your video makes it seems like my $60 went toward somebody else’s Jagerbomb and while I am all for students being able to party and relax and live a little outside of the library, I could have used that money for a texbook, or you know, groceries.
If the only information I had about Action going into the CSU elections was garnered from the campaign video, I’d probably ruin my ballot by drunkenly scrawling “woowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoowoo!” at the top.
Your Concordia: yourconcordia.ca
Here I get some answers; if I wanted content, Your Concordia is giving it to me. Aren’t sure what the CSU actually does for us as students? Aren’t sure who gets what kind of power and privilege to make decisions about where our fee levies and tuition are spent? Want to know why you should even be concerned about Concordia’s BoG? Aren’t sure what the BoG is?
There is a lot to take in, especially if you aren’t familiar with the way student government operates at Concordia.
But, like I said, if I am giving up significant amounts of my money to support school initiatives and student life, then I want to at least understand who I am handing it over to.
This is a different approach, but it is a valuable tool for the election process.
If I only had the Your Concordia CSU video to base my voting decision on, I certainly wouldn’t know who to vote for, but at least I would have some modicum of an idea about what was at stake.
(I actually wonder if Action thanked Your Concordia for taking the time to create and post this video? Your Concordia is telling students why the CSU elections matter in the first place, and in doing so are validating the work that Action is doing, too. Action, want to say thank you?)
The Your Concordia campaign video gets it. Don’t want to spend hours reading through a campaign website? Take two minutes and just listen to the video, you don’t even really need to watch it to grasp the point.
Your Concordia chose not to feature its candidates, which is an interesting move considering how important a recognizable image and name can be given student-voter apathy. But maybe this is deliberate? Maybe Your Concordia isn’t standing on the image of its candidates? Maybe (gasp!) Your Concordia is actually making its platform the most visible part of its campaign?
What we get is a substantial montage of Concordia spaces and again, a lot of information. This video is harder to critique because it works to put the issues, and the proposed solutions, on the table.
If I had to give up my $60 to Your Concordia, the video’s keywords suggest my money would be going to: students, student groups, student spaces, community engagement, community-based problem solving, being represented, resources. These are all great political buzzwords, especially in a student election, but at least Your Concordia is working to communicate its plans.If Action is going to take me out, get me drunk, and dance on some tables with me, Your Concordia is going to be there at the end of the night to hold my hair back, drive me home, and make sure I get something for my headache in the morning.
Ultimately, we’re all students and we all have a lot to deal with, especially at the end of semester. If you can’t take the time to find out what each of these candidates, or each of these slates is really invested in doing for Concordia, then take ten minutes and watch the videos.
Campaigns are by definition dedicated to making everyone look their best. It’s up to you to be critical and to really evaluate what the content is aiming to say about the candidates, the slates, and their intentions for Concordia. We are all giving up a lot more than $1.85 per credit in two weeks. We are handing over the keys to our school experience with CSU elections.
Vote, but take ten minutes to figure out what you want next year. Start with these videos and remember that I warned you about Duck Sauce.