By Matt Kwong
Truth is, it isn’t easy to read RyeSAC President Dave MacLean.
The campus press depicts him as “Pinocchio” and MacLean’s track record for making off-the-cuff remarks has even earned him a retraction in the University of Western Ontario’s Gazette. (Last week, MacLean quoted a figure that was off by about 3,800 per cent. Uh huh.)
I’m not going to lie, it’s a bit embarrassing. As the mouthpiece for Ryerson’s student body, MacLean isn’t doing us a great service when he sputters a quick quote.
But Dave, I can relate: I am also a victim of the verbally challenged. There may not be ill-intent in our speech, but when I’m wrong I just tend to stutter. In your case, a few misplaced words can damage RyeSAC as a professional organization.
“It’s difficult to show students what we’re going to provide for them when we look like kindergarteners,” says Simon Rossiter, RyeSAC’s equity issues commissioner.
According to Rossiter, the stream of misinformation only alienates students from an organization they already see as irrelevant. Harsh? Realistic. The voter turnout to student elections is 10 per cent of the school. Ryerson can’t afford a further drop in what Rossiter calls its “lack of goodwill”.
So how should MacLean have better handled himself when he was quoted in the Ryersonian as (unintentionally) linking gender-neutral washrooms with “perversion”?
His first reaction was to say he was misquoted, but as Rossiter notes, “to just say anything to get out of the situation-even if it’s not true-is the biggest problem.” Of course, it was later resolved that the quotation was the product of a mangled conversation. Still, the first way to deal with it is to prevent it from happening in the first place.
Whether MacLean is consciously lying or whether he’s just consistently confused doesn’t make a lick of difference. In the end, all the average student remembers is that MacLean told another fib, which defeats the whole purpose of having an educated student union voice.
As Rossiter puts it, “we’re here to try and serve 18,000 students, but if we’re being dishonest to them then what the hell kind of good are we doing?”