In 2013, members of the University Improv Group put on a rubber horse mask and a cardboard gun, and ran for SU president. It’s something you’d think of when you’re stoned. Horse with a Gun campaigned on some absurd authoritarian platform that had to do with a glue factory and roughage. People remember it because it was so weird and distinctive, and it’s still associated with elections.
It’s no secret that the SU has outreach problems. Most students only hear of the SU this time of year and during Week of Welcome. Big events like Break the Record have been absent in recent years, and the music venues on campus seem neglected. Communication with students is also an issue, and rather than finding out what students actually think, councillors often seem satisfied with an “I represent students, so I what I think is what students think” mentality.
Around this time of year, when the SU gets its most sustained attention, elections often come across as irrelevant and silly. A low number of students bother voting, candidates consistently play it safe, and the self-importance of some candidates is off-putting.
But as long as the bases are covered, some years it’s not terribly important who has exec positions. The institution is good enough so that RATT and Dewey’s will keep on keepin’ on, Campus Cup will still happen, and we’ll still be able to sleep in SUB.
Regarding the major points this year that execs were responsible for, since domestic tuition was looked after (and the NDP makes student governance jobs easier), including the Lister meal plan, U-Pass, mental health funding, you could expect any competent student leader to have argued for the same things. Not to downplay what the execs have done this year, but from my perspective as a domestic student, the point is it was one of those years where it was totally fine to go to council for 10 minutes just for the food.
Outreach matters most when tuition is up for debate, and when the SU needs to hear from students beyond SUB and across campus. 2019 will be interesting. International tuition is something else, and I don’t see that ever going to a reasonable amount without active protest.
So, Horse with a Gun should be considered an outreach gift to the SU from some students who care enough to put themselves out there and put in the work to fake-campaign.
Here’s a pretty stoned idea: make Horse with a Gun the official SU mascot. Hire some drama students to wear the stinky masks, parade them around campus, have them show up at Week of Welcome and have them dance at Orientation. Have them host election forums. Have a Campus Cup team of Horses with Guns, and make a cover band that plays in RATT on Fridays. Make a Horse with a Gun Twitter account and troll the university with what students really think. Have Horse with a Gun show up at council and do entertaining stuff. And when it matters most, have Horse with a Gun lead demonstrations to the Ledge.
The fact is forums aren’t well-attended, council isn’t well-attended, and the outreach thing keeps coming up. So Horse with a Gun is worth a shot.
Correction: A March 6 version of this article stated that it was a “guy” who wore the mask. Turns out it was the entire University Improv Group of 2012-2013. That impressive organizational ability and dedication to craft is better than what you see in most SU campaigns.