By Vanessa Thomas
V.p. education Erin George smoked her first cigarette in three months at the beginning of her two-week campaign for student council president.
But despite “feeling pretty confident” last Wednesday night, George smoked four cigarettes as she tried to calm her nerves while waiting for the election results to be posted in The Ram in the Rye.
“I needed to keep myself occupied,” says George, a fourth-year journalism student. “I was confident, but I had to prepare myself for the possibility that the decision wasn’t going to be in my favour.”
In the end, her nervousness was unfounded as she beat her only opponent, Elliot Salmons, by 158 votes.
The two election rivals, who both sit on RyeSAC’s board of directors, exchanged an emotional hug minutes after the winner was announced.
“I would consider Elliot a friend and it was awkward running against him,” says George.
Salmons, a fourth-year theatre production student, arrived less than an hour before the results were posted and left soon after to get back to his production manager job for The House of Atreus, a play produced by Ryerson students. Salmons says the election loss means after April, he’ll focus on his career in technical and theatre production.
Meanwhile, George says adjusting to the role of president won’t be a tough transition because she did it last year when she moved from women’s issues commissioner to v.p. education.
“As v.p. education I have more of an activist role,” says George. “My role and ideals won’t change, but the president has more of a diplomatic role than an activist [role].”
George says her victory can be attributed to her experience and rigorous campaigning. She says she visited about 45 classrooms and spoke to students as she distributed 4,000 leaflets advocating her platform.
“The one-on-one contact with students made the eventual difference,” George says.
The 22-year-old activist plans to continue to work with the non-profit community and with lobby groups such as the Canadian Federation of Students to fight for a tuition freeze, an end to deregulation, and more financial aid for students. She also wants to mobilize students’ votes if a provincial election is called during her term.
George says her first post-election step will be to become more active in the student campus centre project.
“RyeSAC needs to ensure the student centre runs in a direction that is positive to students,” she says.