VP Admin – Tristan Markle and the Spirit of Utopia

Once upon a time, there were many students who thought they were powerless. They saw political, social and economic realities as both static and unchangeable. In this age of powerlessness, the Great Treks of 1922 and 1953, and the APEC protests of 1997 seemed like ancient history. These were very gloomy days; students saw only two options: either become nerds and ultimately lab animals, or become party animals with hedonistic lifestyles.

The constant, however, was the animal. That is not at all surprising because, as Aristotle understood long ago, humans are political animals. When there are no politics, all that remains is the animal. In your 100-level political science courses, you might have heard that everything is political, but this is merely a lie that lazy professors like to tell to their young students. Politics is, in fact, a very rare thing. It has nothing to do with rehashing buzzwords or being a good bureaucrat. Politics is about striving for and achieving that which appears impossible.

So what happened to the age of powerlessness? Admittedly, we are still living in that age for the most part. However, a couple of years ago, a few students remembered that we need not be powerless. They have since been trying to revive the political within the AMS – bringing us to our endorsement of Tristan Markle. Two years ago, Tristan and several others initiated a campaign to stop the University from building a shopping mall at the center of campus. At the time it seemed impossible, but not only did their campaign succeed in stopping the shopping mall, but the area is now set to be developed as part of the new Student Union Building. But it does not end there; at a time when the University Administration seems simply incapable of understanding what consultation means, Tristan organized extensive and thorough consultations with students about the new SUB. So fair and democratic were the consultations, students had to wonder why the UBC administration doesn’t get it. And when it came to defending the UBC Farm, Tristan worked harder than anyone in the AMS, although it was not part of his portfolio.

But this is not only about consultations and populism. The VP-Administration position, as the name suggests, can be an entirely bureaucratic and administrative position. It also has the potential to be the framework for endless innovation and experimentation. The new SUB building should be a realized utopia: a hub for making deep and meaningful connections, a model of sustainability and a place to mix pleasure and learning. The Executive in charge of managing the AMS bureaucracy is also the person who, more than anyone else, can redeem the Kafkaesque castle that we refer to as our Student Union. We endorse Tristan Markle for VP-Administration and for protecting and creating that which seems impossible at UBC, i.e. utopian political thinking.

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