By Don McHoull
This year’s student union election campaign season doesn’t even officially begin until the end of the week, but it’s already off to an ugly start.
An anonymous group identifying itself as Take Back RyeSAC sent a crude manifesto to the campus press outlining its plans to “take back” RyeSAC.
“We’re tired of a RyeSAC that puts its agendas ahead of students,” the manifesto read in part. “It’s (sic) a bunch of proabortion (sic) leftists trying to change the world rather than give money back to students.”
The shoddily-written text goes on to rail against the Canadian Federation of Students, RyeSAC’s campaign to raise the minimum wage, and the campus food bank, which it decries as “a waste of student money.”
Who sent the e-mail is a matter of hot debate in campus political circles.
Current RyeSAC President Ken Marciniec declined to hazard a guess, but noted that the anonymous diatribe reminded him of the rhetoric employed by failed presidential candidate Dave MacLean last year.
“I saw a similar sight last year,” Marciniec said. “The language wasn’t quite the same, but the beliefs were there.”
MacLean for his part, thinks the e-mail may be an attempt to undermine his potential campaign for this year, or that of his former running mate Derek Isber.
“It’s clearly a dirt-ass tactic,” said MacLean. “Unless it honestly is some dumb student out there who honestly believes this stuff.”
The e-mail does seem a bit suspicious. It reads like an angry satire of the sort of conservative populism that was offered up by MacLean and his slate of candidates last year.
Parts of it seem designed to offend campus sensibilities and frighten people. Would any sane candidate really attack food banks as a waste of money, or try to make abortion an issue in a student union election?
The e-mail also seemed to be littered with intentional mistakes –spelling communist wrong for instance –but its references to the official campaign period and to the fears that Ryerson will become another Concordia or York betray a fairly sophisticated understanding of student politics.
The identity of the anonymous group seems destined to remain unknown for now.
Reached by e-mail, group members declined to be interviewed but said they were planning to run candidates in the election.
There are two possible explanations for Take Back RyeSAC: It is either part of a dirty tricks campaign, representing a new high in Machiavellian political sophistication on campus, or an actual group of semi-literate Rush Limbaugh-esque students on a rampage, representing a new low in crude, reactionary politics.
Neither possibility bodes well for the upcoming election.