Benefit of the doubt

In the interest of full disclosure, I have worked extremely closely with Al Turnbull as well as the entire Fresh slate through my time as vice-president of the Arts Student Body Council. I have chosen to write this editorial under my own accord, as I think that it’s important that the student body be reminded to judge Al on his actions when he takes the office, rather than taking a selective look at his past.

In the last week a picture of Fresh candidate and UMSU president-elect Al Turnbull has been making a viral spread in social media. The originator of this story went on what seemed to me to be a hateful tirade. This person made Mr. Turnbull out to be a one-man army against the Womyn’s Centre. In the picture, Turnbull is seen with a fellow Bison football player, both wearing shirts that read, “Cool story, babe. Now go make me a sandwich.” Was this in poor taste? Sure. Has Mr. Turnbull admitted this and expressed remorse? Yes, on many occasions.

This has not stopped self-proclaimed “enlightened” individuals from declaring him to be “douche guy,” “asshole,” and so on. At one point I even saw what seemed to be personal threats on Facebook directed towards Mr. Turnbull while others chose to condemn his policies on the Womyn’s Centre, gender issues, and anything else, despite those policies having not yet been laid out.

These critics are quick to the draw as not only has Mr. Turnbull yet to take office but none have any experience with him in his current role as president of the Arts Student Body Council. Another policy that those on Facebook are quick to condemn is Fresh’s stance on Idle No More. The slate’s opinion was best covered by the incoming vice-president internal, Amanda McMullin, in the candidate’s forum during the election. McMullin summed it up simply that, though she herself supports the movement wholly, she also firmly believes that it is not the place of the union to take a stance on divisive issues, especially one that has both sides represented in its membership. It should be stated that Ms. McMullin took the time to identify herself as an Aboriginal from Peguis Reserve while addressing the question.

I’m not saying this should all be ignored, but it is my opinion that those who are attacking Al Turnbull or his counterparts so aggressively and declaring him unfit for the job are judging without cause, but are also attempting to overrule the voice of the 3,555 students that voted for him and believed him to be the best candidate for the job. Do some of these students have grounds for concern about Mr. Turnbull? Perhaps, but the proper way to go about voicing this concern is not through a hate-filled diatribe on the Internet, but by engaging in civil dialogue. I can speak from personal experience that Mr. Turnbull is more than willing to listen to criticism. But be warned, this football playing “douche guy” is far more intelligent than these online vigilantes are giving him credit for.

Mark Stewart is the vice-president of the Arts Student Body Council.

1 Comment on "Benefit of the doubt"

  1. “But be warned, this football playing “douche guy” is far more intelligent than these online vigilantes are giving him credit for.”

    Online vigilantes? Be warned? You should rethink the way you communicate your defense of Al Turnbull. This furthers the adversarial tone reflected in this controversy. The “online vigilantes” are concerned members of the student body. While a few may be articulating their concerns in harsher tones, their concerns and voices are legitimate.

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