2010 UWO USC Presidential Election Primer

It’s six men fighting for one of the biggest jobs in Canadian student politics. The University of Western Ontario’s Students’ Council President is the head of the third most-powerful student union in Ontario and one of the largest in Canada. It’s not a job to be taken lightly and one that is essentially a full-time job for the winning candidate.

So who is the best man for the job? I break down each candidate and their platforms after the jump.

Marshall Goldfarb
Goldfarb is a fourth year MOS student who appears to have no actual experience in any sort of elected capacity at UWO. He has real world work and volunteer experience but that doesn’t necessarily translate to the back room politics that it is necessary to get things done at the highest levels at UWO. However, his active Twitter account shows that he is willing to stay in touch with the common student and remain accessible at all times. You can only hope that he’ll make more than Emily Rowe’s 3 tweets as president.

Goldfarb’s platform reads a bit like a science report complete with diagrams, a table of contents and lots of point form. His big campaign point is $3 meals. Basically, it provides cheap meals outside of the residences which will likely piss off the franchised eateries in the UCC and piss off the administration who collect rent from those franchises. He proposes the old favourite of the 24-hour library during exams but also the popular student lounge (something I proposed when running for my high school’s presidency). He proposes tailgating Mustangs football games and giving out tickets to games despite the tickets already being free which seems a bit redundant. What I really like is the Presidential Open Door policy. I’ve always said Tom Stevenson was the best USC prez in my time at UWO and this was his sort of policy.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Matt Hyland
Hyland comes into the election with local roots and lots of elected experience. The Ivey student is twice a Senator and a residence council president. Two things in his bio set off alarm bells for me: 1) Ivey (and I’m an Ivey grad so it ain’t bias), and 2) His passion is political science. I’ve always said you should watch out for career politicians.

Hyland’s platform is called “Aim Higher” which may describe his state of mind when writing this up. It’s seven pages on non-stop writing which would ambitious for a two or three-year term, let alone a one year presidency. It reads like something that an Ivey student would come up with. There’s a lot of talk about branding, marketing, profitability, corporate sustainability and stakeholder engagement. Part of the branding is a new USC website and rebranding all USC programs and services under the same banner. He also wants to foster cooperation between the USC and the media (including forcing The Gazette to changes its business model) without influencing the media. Seems like a major contradiction. And once again, there’s a candidate pitching the idea of a grocery store in UCC. It might work for students in the suite style residences but that’s the extent of potential customers. It seems as though Hyland is trying for a platform that has something for everyone and this will be too much for him to actually pull off.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Ray Park
Park is a fourth year philosophy and poli sci student who has been on the USC as a social sci councillor and has served on the UWO Senate. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out the slight irony of his assigned official campaign colour being yellow. I’m surprised this hasn’t offended someone or am I underestimating the common sense on campus?

Park’s platform is based around student involvement. His platform includes extra funding for events, an online calendar, a USC services directory, getting regular students on committees, USC meetings in the UCC atrium and a presidential blog. He has some other smaller ideas like USC funded scholarships and USC councillor training but his whole platform is based around student involvement. Interestingly, his opt-out dental coverage plan is tucked at the bottom of his platform. Maybe it’s because it’ll be a large added-on fee but it also could be because most folks are still under their parents plans and don’t need to be bothered to opt out of yet another largely useless insurance plan.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Jeff Rutledge
Rutledge is a fourth year poli sci student with most of his experience coming as part of the social sci Students’ Council. He’s currently the VP finance on the SSSC but has been a rep on the council. Normally, I would have reservations about a career politician running for office but he seems more like a person than a robot (which would be the most printable description I would have for past poli sci student turned USC prez Stephen Lecce).

It’s a three-pronged platform for Rutledge all of which are about improving his Purple Community. The first prong is communication. This would include visiting constituency councils, establishing an online calendar and better using the HYPE team. But the lynchpin in his communication strategy would be establishing a Craigslist-knockoff called The Purple Hub. Given the fact that most USC tech projects seem to take forever, there may be a while before we see this idea come to fruition. The second prong is clubs. There is a lot of talk in Rutledge’s platform about increased support for clubs, club space, and improving the accessibility of clubs to students. The final prong is A Little Piece of Purple which would be a $10 t-shirt designed by students as part of a contest. It’s a fairly straight-forward platform but is lacking the grandeur of the other platforms. However, this is a less is more platform. No candidate can accomplish 20 things so Rutledge is well aware of his limits and shows it in his platform. However, his IT ideas worry me because IT is not one of the USC’s strong suits.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Mike Tithecott
Tithecott is the darkhorse in this campaign but a lot of that has to do with age and experience. He’s a third-year Music student but he does have some experience. He was the President of Deli Hall’s rez council and a UWO Senator. His grassroots experience is something that tends to be underrated by most folks but really should be considered an asset in the top job.

Tithecott’s four page platform covers a lot of things from Mustang athletics to simple things to put in place to the more far-fetched. For example, I can’t see the “Student Living Spaces” in the UCC renovation zone going over well. While I like the idea (I pitched it in my high school presidential campaign), it will likely run into logistical roadblocks in the form of worries over the rooms being taken over by the same folks all the time and theft of the games/DVDs for those rooms. Some ideas like the President’s Blog, replacement laptop rentals, town hall meetings, and two-ply toilet paper are long overdue. I’m not particularly fond of the Western Mustang tailgates at The Spoke because it takes fans away from the venues. I think the new cheer plan is a plain bad idea. That’ll alienate the alumni who would rather students learn the song and cheers and those alumni support the Mustangs programs.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

Matthijs van Gaalen
The twice UWO Senator has built a campaign that reads like a UWO Senate campaign. It’s also oddly tagged because there isn’t much in his platform that screams “Your Western, your voice.” Most of his campaign is built in the Emily Rowe mould with an excess of YouTube videos. However, he lacks Miss Rowe’s looks that made her boom-de-yada video bearable.

A lot of his Big Five platform ideas seem to be outside the realm of the USC and show inspiration from his time as a UWO Senator. For example, he pitches job shadowing opportunities (which should really be offered in high school because that’s when you’re supposed to start down your career path) and Interest Credits where one outside of major course would be taken out of GPA calculations. Both these are things that have to be approved by the administration and could be better handled through the Senate. It also seems as though most of his ideas are somehow academically-related including expanding out of the classroom learning opportunities and a personalized scholarship database. He does pitch more freedom and support for clubs. MvG also proposes opening Frosh Week to everyone. While I looked back fondly on O-Week, I never wanted to relive it. I think it’s fine as is.

For more information: Website | Facebook | Twitter

After going through each candidate and their platforms, no one really jumps out at me as having a solid plan of attack. Every platform will invariably have its strengths and weaknesses. However, I don’t think there is a particular platform which has far more strengths than weaknesses.

My gut tells me that the two best men for the job are Jeff Rutledge and Mike Tithcotte. When I compare platforms, Rutledge’s is the more feasible and more likely to get implemented. I’m not saying that the rest of the platforms don’t have good ideas in them. It’s just that platforms are just platforms and aren’t guarantees. Rutledge’s simple platform means that he’s the most realistic about what can be accomplished in his time as president. So Jeff Rutledge gets The Lowdown’s kiss of death endorsement to be the next UWO USC President.

Don’t forget to vote. Online voting starts Tuesday January 9th at 1:00 AM and ends Wednesday January 10th at 8:00 PM. Click here for the voting website.


5 thoughts on “2010 UWO USC Presidential Election Primer

  1. You fail to provide students with an accurate presentation of the candidates’ platforms. Your comments are not only poorly researched, but heavily biased as well:
    -The insurance plan provided to students is not largely unused (support your statements with percentages pls)
    -Mike Tithecott has “grassroots experience”? do you know what that means? politicians everywhere are laughing.
    -you seem heavily biased against Matthijs Van Gaalen? there are good points to his platform as well…(eg. 12.5% salary cut)
    -research Goldfarb’s $3 meals more extensively if you want an idea to be critical of

    As you claim to know, there is a lot more to each candidate than their platform. Take the time to also review how each of them has performed in debates, interacted with students etc. None of these students are ready for this position, but you can do a better job ensuring that the rest of undergrad students are informed. You may want to start by spelling Tithecott’s name correctly.



    • Sal,

      Did I say it was fair and unbiased? I’m not The Gazette. I don’t have to be fair and unbiased because I won’t be influencing votes with my assessments. (See Lecce, Stephen) I don’t have access anywhere I want. I’m doing the best with what I’ve got. But I’ll try to tackle your points.
      – Most students are covered under their parents plans so they don’t need a dental/medical plan. The general demographics of UWO would explain that.
      – What’s wrong with a man being a soph and on rez council. Tithecott has experience from the lowest levels of UWO. He knows the system from the ground up. That’s worth more in my books than career Senators. And laughing? The grassroots are what the political commentators love talking about. Ask Mike Ignatieff what he thinks of the grassroots and get back to me.
      – I’m not biased against MvG, I just think that the USC president’s mandate is not academic standards. That’s the area of the Senate. Good platform, wrong position.
      – I have no problem with $3 meals. I said that the administration who collects rent and a portion of gross revenue from the franchises who have space at the UCC will hate it. That’s the biggest roadblock there. Think of it this way: If Timmy’s said that they’ll pull out of the UCC if the $3 meal plan goes ahead, what do you think the administration will do in the midst of an “economic crisis?”

      Like I said at the top, I’m using my experience as an amateur journalist and commentator to do this article. Not everyone is going to like it. Clearly, you’re one of them. Just remember what you wrote when you pick up tomorrow’s Gazette and get back to me when you read what their staff of dozens does compared to one guy on the interweb.



  2. The USC isn’t a union; it’s a corporation.

    If it was a union, maybe some of these nice people would actually have an opportunity to do anything with their position, instead of being burdened by the corporate structure.


  3. Please share this post so that Western students get the chance to meet the REAL Mike. I’ve posted this to all the Presidential candidates groups. Someone, please get this message out. On the surface, Mike seems to be a nice person, but you need to dig a bit deeper before electing this guy. I’m personally very disturbed that he is doing so well in this election, and that more people aren’t talking about his true egocentric personality.

    I think there’s a really good chance that Mike could be USC President, and I think that’s a really scary thing. He could win due to his popularity and his connections within Soph teams, but, in terms of governance, it would be a disaster.

    It’s like a really bad Disney movie: “I’m just a nice, jolly, guy who enjoys working out and playing my guitar…”

    Mike would be facing down business leaders and working with the Mayor of London, using the folksy stuff he’s learned while politicking his way to where he is today. It is absurd, and I don’t understand why more people aren’t talking about how absurd it is.

    The fact that we’ve gotten this far, and we’re so close to this being a reality, is crazy. I need to know if Mike REALLY wants to meet Allah and Buddha, as per his MySpace page from first-year.

    I want to know that, I really do, because he’s going to be the voice of our Western student body, and that includes a sizeable number of Muslims and Buddhists. I want to know if he is actually so intolerant and insensitive.

    Check out his MySpace from his first year at Western. Sure, people write embarrassing things on their high school pages, but this MySpace is from only 2 years ago…”Last Login: 02/10/2008″. I think it is a more accurate reflection of his true personality. Don’t worry about deleting your MySpace, Mike; I’ve already downloaded a full copy.


    “About me:hey my names mike tithecott… im 17 years old and go to UCC, i am prime minister there 2 […] My life consists of playing guitar, hangin out with my friends, or listening to music/playing video games…”


    • Umm… I checked his MySpace and read what you copied from his page. I have no idea how you figure that he isn’t tolerant of Islam and Buddhism. Maybe you have some other proof that he or you aren’t sharing. Care to shed some light?


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