Growing up, my grandfather always told me that if I wanted to go into politics, I should first get my law degree. His speeches about the strong connection between law and politics reverberate in my mind now as I walk through Osgoode Hall Law School.
It’s election time and campaigning is hot and heavy. Unfortunately for my grandpa, I never caught his political fever and his dream for me to be the next prime minister is unlikely to be realized. At present, I am content to observe from within the library as many of my friends and esteemed colleagues are showing brilliant potential in the Osgoode Legal and Literary Society and Student Caucus rat race.
Reminiscent of my high school days, the walls of Osgoode are plastered with colourful posters and gimmicky clichés exclaiming why I should vote for this person for this, and that person for that. The real paradox is that contrary to the impression left by glittery rainbow campaign posters, the students who we choose to represent us will be addressing very serious and pressing issues on our behalf.
This year there were several controversies at Osgoode, including the petition against Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s new take on crime envisaged in Bill C-10. Although several hundred Osgoode students signed the petition, several hundred students do not represent Osgoode as a whole. It caused a bit of an uproar from students with differing viewpoints who didn’t see the petition as a unified voice of the Osgoode student community.
Student leaders often face these contentious situations and I’m sure anyone who has been in a law school can understand how truly terrifying a pack of stressed-out and angry nerds can be. I have been extremely fortunate to have had dedicated, brilliant, and charismatic student leaders in my years at Osgoode. They were not voted in as representatives based on the expertise with which they drew block letters, but rather on the strength of their campaign platforms. My advice to all voting students is to be informed and vote for someone who you believe in and support as a leader. I am confident this year’s candidates will carry forward the Osgoode tradition and show grace under fire when caught in between a rock and a hard place (literal translation: caught in a heated Conservative and Liberal debate).
Fortunately for the information-hungry voters, this year platforms are being disseminated through all sorts of media. You can read about campaigns on Facebook and Twitter as well as the personal web sites of many of the candidates. Additionally, and much to my pleasure, many of the candidates have made humorous (and highly informative) videos which can be found on YouTube. One issue that I have with online campaigning is that it tends to polarize the student body.
On Facebook for example, candidates create events entitled “Vote for ‘insert name here’” and it is assumed that if you RSVP in the affirmative, you support that candidate.
As I have said before, and undoubtedly will say many more times, the law school experience is nothing without the community of friends and peers that you develop along the way. Osgoode students are lucky to have an incredibly strong social network and I am wary of anything with the potential to threaten the atmosphere of support and cohesion at the school. As of yet, my fears of polarization and food fights in the cafeteria have not come to fruition, but I do think that there is merit to the democratic practice of secret ballots.
Far and away, my favourite part of campaign week is the cookies. What does campaign week have to do with cookies? Well, how else are you going to get poor, hungry students to stop and listen to your “vote for me” spiel! The critical thinkers running for Osgoode office have come up with peanut butter cookies, and for that I thank them (my waistline, however, does not). The polls opened last Friday and I encourage all Ozzies to get out and vote. I’d like to wish all of the candidates good luck, and grandpa, if you’re reading this — I’m sorry I’m not running for a position, I’ll share my peanut butter cookies with you if it’s any consolation!