MC Elections: Of Experience and Expectations

An interested party talks to Cui Chunhao, the outgoing Hon Fin Sec and Returning Officer for the 13th MC elections.

An interested party talks to Cui Chunhao, the outgoing Hon Fin Sec and Returning Officer for the 13th MC elections.

In the first article of our coverage of the USC Management Committee Elections, we attended the Elections Information Session held today to scope out the prospective candidates.

It was meant to be an information session for the dissemination of administrative details and formal election protocols; yet, The Cinnamon Roll’s interviews with the participants has highlighted the importance of experience and expectations when USC votes next week.

Around 25 had turned up for the session at the Master’s Commons, although a handful had no intention to contest for positions in the NUS University Scholars Club 13th Management Committee (MC). A little over half were Year One students. In the fortnight to come, the final list of nominees will have to canvass for votes, design campaigns within the residential college (RC), and field queries in a (gruelling) question-and-answer session.

One could argue that the incoming MC has much to live up to. When asked about a defining moment in the past year, Alaric Ng, the Director of Public Relations, spoke of the increased integration of the exchange students. Now, many of them “feel part of the community and take ownership of the facilities”, while meals and gatherings are more commonplace.

Glenn Heng, a first-year Business Administration student, commended Alaric for integrating the different social media platforms within USP. Glenn, who is running for the Public Relations position, also mooted ideas of an “online newspaper with advertisements”, and an “integrated University Town”, which will bring the various RCs together.

Likewise Darrell Lian, USC’s Vice-President (Community Life), had sought to create a bigger space through “logistic and strategic management of events”. Last semester, he organised a get-together for the leaders of the interest groups to connect and interact. Certainly, it is all well and good; though in retrospect, the outgoing committee could reflect and evaluate its performance in the past year. Public information on finances and event reports would not only provide closure, but also empower the next committee with the necessary information before they forge ahead.

In that sense, the interested individuals should think about concrete, specific, and substantial proposals that will benefit the USC community tangibly. Alternatively, they should make sense of where USP stands in the broader NUS landscape. Sure, they can allude to their wonderful orientation experience and the leadership posts they have held. However, they need to move away from pedantic statements like “I can do more for the community” (how, exactly), or “I can bring the system to greater heights” (alright…).

No thanks. We want to hear more.

From what he understands, Kenneth Ler – a Year One student from the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences – “the present committee has been very focused on events and flagship activities, such as Dining in the Dark”. If he was elected as the Director of Community Service, he would like to play a more facilitative role, to help interested parties with no prior experience to involve themselves in projects. Advocacy and awareness will be his emphasis.

Those who are still undecided or pondering over suitable portfolios might be forgiven, but all of them should understand that aspirational fluff per se will get them nowhere.

Perhaps this is where experience (and maybe wisdom) come(s) in, to match expectations.

Year Three Chemical Engineering student Law Zhe Wen is running for the position of President, because of his personal attachment to USP. Raising Rag as an example, he believes our activities should be “more outward-looking and meaningful”. These programmes can send out broader messages too. Talia Seet, a Year Two Political Science major running for either of the Vice-President positions, echoed these sentiments. In view of the other RCs and Yale-NUS in University Town, USP must “sustain its vibrancy and meaning” by tapping on its potential, and through a general, multidisciplinary approach.

If we want our MC to be engaged and competent, then ultimately we – as members – must remain cognisant of these activities and developments, so that we can keep the MC in check intelligently and responsibly. Knowing the motivations and experience of these candidates is the first step. In the next two weeks, The Cinnamon Roll will be bringing you updates from the sessions, and speak to more of the hopefuls.

Let’s roll.