Accountability and Responsibility Aren’t Just Cliché Terms

14 Mar, 2013

Every year, the students of McGill University get the opportunity to vote for the Executive Council that will govern the Students’ Society of McGill University (SSMU). Candidates in these elections have different ideologies and visions for our university and, while we may disagree with candidates on a variety of issues, it is important to recognize that their willingness to run for election is a demonstration of their commitment to our university, student issues, and campus life; something that we must commend and respect.

It is hard to forget the political climate of last year with occupations, protests, strikes, and character assassinations of the McGill administration. The very issues that troubled many students last year continue to be issues this year, and it is only fair for a voter to ask for a candidate’s views on the topic.

On March 12th, I asked Chris Bangs, a presidential candidate for SSMU, a question on his official Facebook election page – something he encouraged students with questions to do. My question involved a video of him from last year’s strike, where he is seen interrupting a class along with a group of students beating drums. On his page, I asked him to justify his actions because I was personally affected by the disruption and I felt that it is something that must be addressed.

I asked the question out of genuine curiosity; I felt that my personal choice to attend class was not respected and that my opinion was therefore not valued. I was hoping that he would present a well thought-out argument and that he was more than willing to have a meaningful discussion on the issue. After all, the SSMU President would have to deal with a variety of different viewpoints and, whether or not the President agrees with an opinion, it must be acknowledged and respected.

However, rather than engaging in an open discussion, my post was mysteriously removed. In good faith, I posted again, thinking that it was an error on my part, but Chris Bangs – the only admin of the event – deleted the post once more, and I have since been blocked from the event. Apparently I am not alone on this issue; others who have asked Bangs similar questions have also been blocked from posting.

If Chris Bangs wants to be SSMU President, he’s going to have to answer hard questions he may not like. He must address his actions in the video, not only because it is a concern to many McGill students like myself, but also because a candidate for a position of leadership must be fundamentally responsible for his actions. A transparent student government starts with a transparent campaign, not cherry-picking questions or comments.

Chris Bangs’ actions leave me with a negative image of him and his platform and would find it very difficult to vote in his favour. Any candidate for any election should be willing to have a discussion and listen respectfully to a variety of opinions. I cannot leave this issue unresolved and I encourage every voter to ask Bangs to explain or justify his actions in the video. The SSMU President is one of our most prominent student leaders; everyone has a right to understand exactly who they are voting for.

The views expressed in this opinion piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Bull & Bear.

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