Ballots of Notable People: Azim Wazeer

This is a guest post by Azim Wazeer, outgoing student representative on the Board of Governors.

The following piece is my endorsements and additional commentary on the race to become the next AMS President. I promise that it’s not as long as some of my more recent work. All the best to all the candidates!

President: Jeremy McElroy

Having moderated a rather extensive debate between Presidential candidates Jeremy McElroy and Mike Moll, the following are my thoughts on this race:

Michael can be and is inspiring to listen to and his major platform focus, engagement vis-à-vis communication is extremely important for the long-term health and well-being of the society. The issue is, however, how will he address the plethora of issues facing both the society and the student body at-large in the short-term? I ask this because building communication and engagement, although vitally important, won’t happen overnight. He left me wanting in that area.

Jeremy is a great orator and a seasoned statesman, yet for some reason he has not channeled his charisma in the same way that Michael has been, in order to rally support and drum up interest in the elections. I certainly hope it isn’t his orthodox AMS pedigree that sometimes manifests itself in a feeling of entitlement to the various offices of student government that is causing this. He has fallen short, to some degree, in capturing the hearts and minds of students by communicating the passion for the society I know he has, in the way Mike Duncan was able to, both during elections and in his term in office, some years ago. More harmonious times they were, even when members of the executive were getting arrested. It’s almost as if, so long as your President isn’t a polarizing figure, the image of the society is left relatively unblemished.

As I examine the challenges in the immediate future, they are some of the most tenuous the Society and student body has faced in recent memory. With an economic recession that has exposed the unreliable crutch that are our business contributions to the Society budget; triggering a life or death referendum, impending historic changes in municipal governance of the Point Grey campus, the departure of one of the most effective bureaucrats the Society has ever employed; Henry Chen, and very uncertain times in Victoria, not to mention a number of other issues, a very special type of Chief Executive is required. The right candidate for President, in today’s world, must be someone who can hit the ground running, is easily relatable to the aggregated student population, thoroughly nuanced in their understanding of the issues of the day and has reasonable ideas about how to address them. While Michael punches above his weight and that of most others on this campus in terms of being able to relate to an aggregated student body, Jeremy does decently there too and passes the other litmus tests with flying colours as well.

As for Omar Chaaban, a very nice guy in person actually (not that he’s villainous in the public eye but he gets overly demonized at times), I don’t believe he passes any of the aforementioned tests. Having said that, with some experience on Council, if he manages to get elected there, he could make for a far more interesting candidate in the future.

Ultimately, though, the race for President has left me a little sadder than when it started. A lot of the commentary, both rhetoric and critical analysis, on Michael fails to recognize the amazing journey he has taken as a young man from Kenya on a highly competitive scholarship, learning quickly how to adapt to Canadian cultural norms (how to play the game if you will, no short order for any student, let alone internationals) and gaining valuable experiences across a broad spectrum of campus that even his chief opposition recognized and validated. He did all this AND he put himself out there where many others simply lack the skill, the will, the charisma and the composure to contest an election to lead a student body of 46,000 strong and growing.

I sincerely hope he did not fall prey to one man’s naked and awkward attempt to build an artificial legacy in the wake of his own nuclear fallout from student affairs by manufacturing a cohort of disciples that would preserve his distortions and manipulations of so many issues in the past year. It was my hope that Mike would run for VP Admin, a portfolio that I think he could have started implementing his ideas in and seen results in the short term, and I communicated this to him in a chance run in during the Christmas break but alas, it wasn’t to be. Michael, you are meant to do great things, for students and for society as a whole, so it pains me that I cannot support you in this specific endeavour.

VP Academic & University Affairs: Matt Parson

I have written quite extensively on Matt’s candidacy for the position and all I have left to add is in light of Ben Cappellaci’s recent comments on the race to be his successor. He highlights Matt as the candidate to vote for if you want community building and a strong focus on University Affairs. The biggest challenges this portfolio will face in the next year are resolving Gage South and preparing our case for the governance discussions that will begin shortly. I rest my case. And Mr. Platt, my comments were preposterously long and ranty, mostly because I was responding to a preposterously bad piece of analysis from a writer who can be quite ranty himself (twit of the day anyone?).

VP Finance: Elin Tayyar

This is easy for two major reasons:

1. Henry Chen, the AMS Treasurer for just over the last decade and one of our Society’s most valuable employees is leaving us for greener pastures. Elin is already screwed as a result of this. Anyone else would be doubly screwed which would leave the Society triply screwed.

2. Elin did a fantastic job, under very difficult circumstances. Let him finish the job that is pulling us out of financial ruin and ensuring the referendum is structured and passed in the best way for students.

VP External: Mitch Wright

Mitch knows the portfolio inside and out and is a great person to work with. He’s also the least divisive of the candidates in what seems to be one of the more polarized races this year. For the person advocating our policies to the Provincial and Federal Government’s, given the air of uncertainty in Victoria and Ottawa, I particularly like this about him.

Board of Governors: Sean Heisler, Sean Heisler again and yes, Sumedha Sharma

For the race I know the most about, I’d like to quote Dr. Darren Peets, storied former student representative on the Board of Governors – an effective student at the Board table will “…have a number of valid, thoughtful points, and not waste their (fellow Board members) time with minor issues or technicalities you could have asked or suggested to staff.” I would also add that an effective student at that table requires a degree of sophistication to balance their fiduciary duty with their elected mandate, and to build trust with your fellow Board members in light of the aforementioned proverbial tightrope one has to walk, all while being fluent in corporate language to strengthen their valid, thoughtful points. Without a doubt, Sean has these in ample amounts and with him to follow by example, Sumedha will quickly develop those skills and traits as well. Both of them fully understand what is at stake and I look forward to seeing the fruits of what will be an effective relationship at the Board for students.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Why not Justin Yang? Just curious given that most people are endorsing him.

    Posted by Anon | January 19, 2011, 8:11 pm
  2. @Anon: under the race you mention, there is a link to a rather extensive and exhaustive response I wrote to another commentator about the equivalent of your question. Have a look at that and you will see a number of reasons why I’m supporting Matt.

    Posted by Azim Wazeer | January 22, 2011, 3:55 am
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