The three “serious” presidential candidates. Foot-in-mouth disease?

So I was only at about the first 20 minutes of yesterday’s candidate debate in the SUB conversation pit. That means I got to hear the presidential candidates answer a few questions. It was a little painful. Not to be a hater, but I don’ think it’s too much to ask that the President of the AMS – who will have to do media, negotiate with government, and lobby administrators – be able to string a few compelling words together. Of the five candidates, the three “serious” contenders seemed to struggle the most. While jokesters Che and Rennie acquitted themselves with fluidity, hilarity, and points, Mike Duncan, Matt Naylor, and Rodrigo Ferrari-Nunes all struggled in their own unfortunate ways.

Mike has always had trouble with this: even though he’s an easygoing and extroverted guy, he gets tongue-tied, stutters, and loses his place. The result is that even if he had something to say worth listening to (a questionable point itself), he’d have trouble actually saying it. Duncan needs to practice speaking clearly, in detail, and step it up a notch.

Naylor seems to have the opposite problem: He’s got plenty to say, and a good understanding of what’s important, and how issues relate. But lay off on the big words, man. I like big words as much as the next person, but you sound like you’re imitating what you imagine a politician should sound like, not letting your personality shine through. We want to hear you talk naturally, unaffectedly, and clearly. Fancy phrases won’t convince anybody.

Rodrigo is a case all his own. First, he doesn’t seem to respect time limits, which is just rude. Second, he seems to barely address the point, preferring to ramble in social-science-speak about his favorite pet topics: music, connectedness, voices, and on and on. Tighten it up Rodrigo – you’re running for a political position, not applying for grad school.

Take Jeff Freidrich, the current President (since I’m on a run, why stop?): Jeff is incredibly thorough, unaffected, honest, and genuine when he speaks. You always feel like he’s saying what he means, including questions and ideas. All the candidates should strive to emulate that great down-to-earth, look-you-in-the-eye quality he has. But build on it: get some enthusiasm in your voice and body language! Don’t ramble! Try to inspire a bit! Speaking well can be a great leadership tool.

Photo Peter Rizov


9 Comments so far

  1. Lee on January 16, 2008 9:09 pm

    yeah, totally right, Maayan. I gotta say, without Jeff, I will never have a passion about the AMS, let alone running today.

  2. Anonymous on January 16, 2008 9:34 pm

    I could not agree more with this post. I must say that I was incredibly disappointed by the performance of the Presidential candidates yesterday. The ‘debate’, if we must call it that, was basically a bunch of soundbytes that added up to a whole lot of nothing. Yeah, people support ACF, violence against the University is bad, you all allegedly have good communications skills, etc.. but come on. Let’s bring out something that really distinguishes these candidates. I’m less interested in what they stand for and much more interested in their strategic implementation plan. So far, I have seen very little in that regard. So to all the Presidential candidates, spend more time thinking about the issues, talk to people, develop a tangible plan, and back off from postering and pamphleting for a while.

  3. Brenodn Goodmurphy on January 16, 2008 10:12 pm

    I have to add a thing or two about content… because as much as speakig skills are important, I want to know that someone is competent enough to run the AMS. I was quite appalled by the lack of meaning behind what most of the Presidential candidates had to say…

    The question about ACF – nobody talked in any depth about the fact that the AMS has an incredible opportunity to run a new last-day event, one that rivals ACF, but works out the kinks. Its possible to make it an AMS event and still have it run and organized entirely by students (non-exec). Furthermore, no one addressed the fact that in fact, the AMS has given ACF lots of support (Shea from AMS events does a LOT of work for it), and when AUS Exec told us that they were going to cancel the event, we offered to sit down and work out ways to partner on the event. The decision was an AUS/ACF decision, not an AMS one.

    In terms of the question about supporting the ECSS, no one talked about anything that should change about the services, they didn’t talk about their leadership style, and how that would support the ECSS, and I wonder if any of the candidates could name all the services. I think that we should have a larger review of the services, where we engage in user/customer feedback, look into ways to streamline things that are ineffective, and find out from students what services are lacking, and where we need to improve or add to what we offer.

    In terms of the approach to the University question – first of all, it was a terrible question… will you be a good cop or a bad cop!? What does that even mean. No one even uttered the word “critical” once – thats the most important element to interacting with the University, a critical engagement, asking tough questions. Its not about being their friend or being an antagonist, that’s obviously not the issue. And, everyone talked about representing student’s interests, but no one could say concretely what those students’ interests are! Meaningful consultation, better representation, more accountability, improved academic experience, etc…

    The Presidential candidates need to be more clear, more succinct and more concrete – most of you know a lot more about the AMS than you’re letting on, so come on!

  4. Gary Brecher on January 17, 2008 1:15 am

    I find it somewhat impressive that the VP Academic who hasnt even bothered to lift a finger to fulfill his own portfolio is able to speak so eloquently as to what job he should have been doing over the course of the last year.

    Also, kudos on the hiring of the single most incompetent elections admin I have personally ever seen. Excellent job at finding candidates their, just fantastic.

  5. participatoryengagement on January 17, 2008 1:37 am

    This, unfortunately, does not correspond to an unbiased coverage.

    Also, please try to spell my name correctly, it’s R-O-D-R-I-G-O. You seem to mispell it the same way even in anonymous posts… sighs…

    I have been working hard on my blog to provide explanation and information in what I am running for and what I am proposing.

    There was no ‘debate’ proper, since the candidates were not allowed to talk to each other, but were given a minute at a time to address complex issues… Needs to be better organized, and the coverage more responsible.

    It is unfortunate that to speak of democratic representation, connectedness and responsibility, and to explain plans for the future is not important for some people.

    Also, when you complain that I speak English at a graduate level, you are not making a good impression about your own understanding of academic issues and concepts, and you are criticizing someone who represents the active researching community of your own university.

    There’s a need for more objective reporting here, and for actual details and direct quotes on what each candidate has to say.

    Do you remember for whom the audience was clapping at each time they clapped? Do you know that the Knoll is openly endorsing me for AMS President?

    be informed, and vote responsibly:

    If Brendan attended the presidential debate, he would have noticed that I have a plan for the new ACF. Visit my blog for details.

  6. maayan kreitzman on January 17, 2008 1:57 am

    Sorry about the spelling of your name – I know it’s annoying to have your name misspelt. I’ll fix it right away. no idea what you’re getting at about anonymous posts.

    About “objective” reporting and whatnot, I have no idea who’s to judge that. I write what I notice. Also, I’ll critisize whoever I want, regardless of their rank in the academy or which group of three people endorsed them.

    We all know you have a campaign blog. This isn’t it. It’s great for the candidates to engage in discussion here, but it’s not the place to advertise your campaign materials.

  7. Brendon Goodmurphy on January 17, 2008 5:39 am

    “I find it somewhat impressive that the VP Academic who hasnt even bothered to lift a finger to fulfill his own portfolio is able to speak so eloquently as to what job he should have been doing over the course of the last year.”

    What exactly in my portfolio have I not fulfilled? In what ways have I not been working hard enough? I’m willing to listen, but you’ll have to elaborate.

  8. rodrigo ferrari nunes on January 20, 2008 1:48 am

    Thanks for your response Maayan – I have been a bit sensitive and reactive to the idea that I could have been disconsidered by certain individuals without much reasoning; I ended up having some strong words to say.

    I will not post my blog address here again, and I would like to stress that after the elections, my blog will be transformed in a information service on UBC politics ran by UBC students, somewhat like this blog, only different.

    Indeed, this would be a great place to have debates with other candidates, but I have been writing considerably more, responding to posts and voicing current student concerns. By avoiding being bland, and by using blunt and direct language, I can at least be visible and ‘controversial’ for a change.
    How can UBC politics be so bland and one-sided sometimes, if our student lives can be so rich and diverse? Why do some choose not to speak out and debate?

    I heard from students opinions that echo the concerns posted by ‘anonymous’, and I have tried to post in detail some of my plans, motions of the past and other issues.

    I have given up graduating for my Master’s this semester in order to serve the student body intensily in a responsible, transparent and accountable manner.

    I have also responded directly to any concerns and criticisms, and have not stepped back from voicing my concerns with some of the inneficiencies of the AMS Council.

    If you read one of the latest posts in the Cavalier, the one with graphs on the polls Peter conducted in council, you will see that his commentary and observations on how people play computer games and play on the internet during council business are in accordance to the poll in my blog entitled ‘The Chuckle and Staged Failed Mini-Coup’ which details Naylor’s efforts to swing the dynamics of the elections in the last minute.

    I have been called ‘controversial’ and ‘accusatory’, or even ‘malign’, but the fact of teh matter is that in my room I have posted on the wall the AMS Values, which determine that we should be committed to transparent, accessible and accountable governance structures.


  9. rodrigo ferrari nunes on January 20, 2008 1:50 am

    *”post”, not “poll” on my blog

Name (required)

Email (required)


Speak your mind

Spam prevention powered by Akismet