Students heading to the polls this week will find the names of three independent candidates squeezed in among the 29 Your Concordia and Action candidates that will grace the ballot for Arts & Science council.
Alex Matak, Kelly Pennington and Justin Famili are running to represent the average student at Concordia, those not part of the political climate.
“There is the common sentiment that there is a distinct unit of political culture at Concordia [that is] sometimes out of touch with students,” political science major Famili said.Â He called his approach “responsive representation,” where “my primary goal is to represent students more effectively.” All three of these independents want to see more consultation with students, whether through general meetings or social media.
They are also all of the opinion that the affiliation that exists between executive and council isn’t necessarily a good thing. “I felt like the slate politics, especially with council, needs to be challenged,” Pennington said. “I think it’s really important to have people who don’t feel any ties and who will speak up no matter what and don’t have any consequences for what they’re saying [because] they’re not affiliated in any way.”
Famili agreed, stating “When you have political parties that encompass both the executive and the council, I feel like the council won’t be able to properly hold the executive accountable which is their responsibility. I feel like that’s a big hindrance to effective student representation.”
With experience working in the 2010 PSSA elections under his belt, Famili is the only unaffiliated candidate who’s been involved in Concordia politics. However, the candidates are united in their reasons for delving into the political climate at Concordia.
“To me, the decision to run was based on a feeling like there wasn’t enough strong voices [on council],” Matak, a second year geography student, said. It was while working with TAPthirst, trying to understand the university’s contract with PepsiCo., that Matak became curious about what was happened behind the doors of the CSU.
“I’ve come to realize what they are and the power that a union holds,” Pennington said of the CSU. “I think there’s such potential that’s being lost and I think it’s important to actually show that to people who were like myself: who just didn’t see past that.”
Pennington and Matak have also banded together in their fight to be noticed amidst the scores of partisan posters and flyers. Their campaign is characterized more by low budget videos, posters put together with friends and other students, and somewhat reluctant classroom visits. “This isn’t something that I’m doing because I really want to be campaigning, it’s kind of the last thing I want to do,” Matak admitted. “In classroom visits […] we haven’t really been telling anyone about what we’re about, we’ve just been urging people to vote.”
There is also one independent candidate for Board of Governors. Patrick Magallanes could not be reached for comment by press time. Magallanes is a political science major and was previously involved with Liberal Concordia as an executive and was on the board of directors for Sustainable Concordia, according to his biography on the Concordia Student Union Elections website.