By Sandor Ligetfalvy | The Brock University Gadfly
The first time I learned the name Kyle Rose, it was because he clicked like on The BUG’s Facebook page the only time I spent $20 in advertising to Brock students in the first few weeks of publishing in May 2013. What I knew about Rose then was that he was a young, black, wrestler, majoring in philosophy, who had written on my page on my Facebook page in 2013, “This seems cool.” I friended him on Facebook and we chatted a few times. He posted uplifting, law-of-attraction, be-the-change type memes and quotes. I remember when he announced he was leaving wrestling to focus on building his business. I met him in person when I called to him in the halls on campus near Tim Hortons and introduced myself and said hello to someone I thought was a reader of my website, but was he would be far more significant than that.
He had aimed his destiny on the BUSU executive and that means inevitably developing a public relations plan that incorporates a good rapport with The BUG, but I can’t say that about Rose in a cynical tone. I believe he just wanted to learn everything from everyone. When it comes to BUSU politics and memory, he has always made me feel like a someone. When he began to research and prepare for his race to become VP Finance and Administration he made efforts to reach out to me and meet with me to gain whatever insights possible from hearing directly from the gadfly himself.
I didn’t want to be involved in the executive race last year, with my focus being on the radio show, covering the Programming Fee referendum, Fed Up Hold Up, and other stuff. I was also emotionally over-invested in the politics I was involved in and became highly stressed when I was banned from council under a confidential, in camera motion, while no one seemed interested in developing any sort of plan to save Brock Radio, not in BUSU and not at the station. At the Winter 2014 BUSU Annual General Meeting, Rose was there, gathering intel for his soon-to-be announced VPFA race. He saw me at my psychologically worst gadfly then when I had a (yet another) micromeltdown in a confrontation, this time with Millard and Yendt about explanations for being banned and the real story of the radio referendum, while Chris Green was standing nearby. Having just watched the executive team present another set of PowerPoint slides to a room that would be empty if not for the BUSU governance staff, and BUSAC people who are most involved in their own efforts at becoming executive, I practically folded to how much bullshit it was. The encounter was another Sandor embarrassment, but Rose didn’t dismiss me because of it. If anything, he was more interested in the passion of my views. Earlier that day, I had a meeting scheduled with Rose but I couldn’t make it — too busy being stressed out. The campaign came and went with him winning against BUSAC veteran Harish Aggarwal and some random person I don’t even remember. I was kind of sad for veteran Aggarwal, and went about my life sniping at the usual suspects based on information being provided to me. Rose as an outsider meant he was perceived as somewhat immune to the sociopolitical entanglements of the BUSU/BUSAC ladder climbers.
Rose was replacing in the VPFA office Christopher Yendt whose legislative brilliance, social power tripping, and whatever else his deal is, had gained him a certain infamy on the gadfly’s pedestal as the most influential figure at BUSU, and not without cause. I love the political story that exists here. My role, Calvin Eady’s role, Yendt’s role, and others such as Millard, Kemble, Hunter, Marshall, Cartmer, Doan, Ventura, and others whose influence is unknown. It’s another one of God’s master-works of intrigue for those in-the-know. But I sometimes wonder if that’s not enough of a reason to be president of BUSU. Characters such as myself, Evans, and Nardone daydream about at least being in the debates. Eady at least has the follow through to step up to the plate as the only legitimate change candidate BUSU has seen.
But none of this has anything to do with Kyle Rose, who stepped into BUSU without climbing the BUSAC or Smart Start ladders. Our politics didn’t involve him, and he won the race by building sincere connections with people. Well, and playing up the valentine’s day aspect of voting week by handing out roses. By any other name would he be just as electable? Sure, and it’s a winning gimmick. As an executive, his presentations have usually consisted of how far along he is at accomplishing his platform points. As a Facebook friend, he has been welcoming and generally interested in what is new, what is up, and what is happening. I liked him and the last thing I wanted was for my rapport with the next VPFA of BUSU to be anything like the last. In the summer, he invited me to meet on-campus with his group called G.R.O.E. (Growth, Respect, Opportunities, Excellence), where I attended two Sundays in a row in what was practically a religious experience of self-transcendence. Among these fresh upstarts I felt more frumpy, weathered, dirty, and negatronic than I’m usually self-aware of as I grub around doing graphic design jobs from the downtown cafe or whatever. Explaining who I am to these entrepreneur university students — one of whom is the new BUSU VPFA — was a sort of out of body experience of self-realization. These are business and comm. majors in a meeting on a Sunday in the Cairns building, talking about the specifics of their lives’ ambitions. Philosopher king Rose lead the meetings which consisted of a short slideshow of inspirational, thoughtful memes, and discussion about the themes therein. Then, each person shared from their lives “Rose, thorn, and bud: something good, something challenging, and a new opportunity.” As I heard from each of the others, I took them seriously, taking brief notes. The first week was so interesting, that I went back a second week, where this time I met Rose’s mom, who spoke about the spiritual difficulties of her nursing job as an end-of-life caregiver in pious Christian language, which Rose deftly reiterated using the signifiers of “The Secret: The Law of Attraction”. The “Rose/Thorn/Bud” model of reviewing one’s own life is something I adopted personally when my friend Julian Anderson heard about it and started using it to basically say what’s up. This is how I ended up getting to know, and getting to love, Kyle Rose.
He drove me back downtown and we had a long chat in the car, sharing from our lives: I was preparing to appear as an artist at Hamilton Comic Con, and he has a patent on a window cleaning invention that has just gone into production. Always coy but never disingenuous, he dodged the specifics about how the transition went between his role as VPFA and his predecessor, my infamous Yendt, who himself had once or twice driven me back downtown from campus in years prior. I gathered from Rose that he sought to define himself on his own terms and had little interest in being puppeted, influenced, or otherwise boxed-in by his predecessor Yendt who had moved from VPFA to chairing the Board of Directors of BUSU. During the first few meetings of BUSAC in this year, Yendt stepped in and spoke where Rose felt he should have been, but he admitted his newness might have made it necessary. I began to wonder, perhaps only in paranoia or cynicism, if Rose’s rapport with me was built up to ensure he wouldn’t come under the same scrutiny that Yendt did. Soon after, I met with Rose, Steven Tulloch, and Matt Campbell at Gord’s one afternoon during Brock’s 50th. When I asked him if he planned to run for president, he said he would prefer focusing on the job at hand, and that if he does run for president, his track record of success will be what he relies on.
As the year went on, Yendt found himself being told to cool off after various displays of arrogance and hostility to others (so I’m told), I presented to council and was interrogated in a long question period, the gadfly sniped at Drew Ursacki’s advocacy team for thinking Vladmir Putin was “funny”, then took a hiatus to let BUSU-be-BUSU in the wake of Blackface 2014 and the realization I wouldn’t be getting my radio show back. Meanwhile, Rose proceeded forward, as we all knew he was headed, directly to a presidency campaign. He didn’t do very much to get anyone’s ire; or at least, no one fed me information against him, and I have had very little reason to publish much during his term of office.
This past weekend, I published an editorial which explained why Eady is “The gadfly’s president”, but what if — fuck the gadfly? I’m an insect with an eyeball who often lacks depth perception, I’m not the all seeing eye of all knowledge and truth. It seems my BUSU opinions can sometimes be based on how well the people who are in it maintain a rapport with me. My reasons for being unsurprisingly and by default in Eady’s camp are spelled out in the previous editorial. I want to see my number one of information source, the guy I call a people’s champion, win the presidency, a bias I have readily admitted. But my rationale is my own and includes the battlescars of Yendt’s year, being banned from student council, radio station fiascos, and general isolation if not for Eady feeding me information, and gossip, and encouraging me when I feel like giving up gadflying. But Brock students don’t give a shit about any of that. They don’t really care about CASA, or the Board of Directors, or BUSU — they know it’s all part of the total bullshit that is their fees. They just can’t wait to graduate and leave to foggily remember the greatest years of their lives from the office towers of whatever high-paying job they believe they’ll have thanks to their degree at Brock University.
Eady has banked his campaign on promises to run referendums, thereby potentially making his campaign itself the referendum — not that anyone out there is paying close attention. I like that his change agenda is based in readily remembered context: he aims to solve lingering issues such as there being a CASA referendum, as well as wants to establish clarity of the roles of power between BUSAC and the Board of Directors, presumably addressing the very issue that he brought to me with what I called Bylawgate. I don’t know if corrective reform policies are not what’s going to win this election, but I’m glad to see that’s what is central to Eady’s agenda. Clearly, Rose does not represent the political substance that I want to see at BUSU in the same way that Calvin Eady does. Rose’s story isn’t mixed up with my own; he isn’t my dog in the fight. He wasn’t there for the Oct-2013 constitutional amendment, Oct-2013 radio referendum, Dec-2013 video ban, Jan-2014 Sandor ban, Feb-2014 Fed Up Hold Up, Feb-2014 programming fee, etc, etc. But the thought occurs to me that these matters are in the past, and, more significantly, they shouldn’t matter very much to students who have never prioritized managing the ethical construct of collective governance structures.
There are other reasons than politics to be elected president of a students union, as much as it pains me to admit. One such reason is personal strengths of interpersonal skills, time and stress management, and other habits of success that are possessed more so by Rose. He is often on-campus as early as 5 a.m. He is an inventor, businesness person, and guru to many of his colleagues. He has a talent for building others up. It has been easy and enjoyable to maintain a rapport with him, and he has entirely dodged my typical BUSU sniping because he just doesn’t earn it, or he’s that good that he’s flown under the controversy radar. I can’t even lump him in with the conventions of the BUSU politick, despite his blatant dress-to-success persona. Two very different cultures and value systems are being represented with the race between Rose and Eady. I am much more so part of Eady’s culture of rebels and outsiders than I am part of Rose’s culture of players and winners.
I love Kyle Rose and he has taught me how to love the potential of this university culture. But I’m afraid I still don’t really know him. I’m afraid that his ability to build a rapport with me has blinded me to the obviously concerning fact that his campaign photos are taken in a Brock University administrators office. Does this mean he’s another BUSU president who will work for Brock’s administration? As Ursacki once chided to me, “just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right.” With eight or so years in wrestling, Rose learned to keeps opponents very, very close. I don’t know he isn’t the best possible person to engage in the struggle of maintaining access to important Brock admins while also rebutting new fees, unfair omnibus re-negotiations, or the potential of BUSU policies mysteriously aligning with admin’s interests instead of the students. After all, in the photo his feet are on that administrator’s desk.
Eady is the gadfly’s president, but Rose will be BUSU’s. Eady is the president of my fears and tragedies and Rose is the president of Brock’s hopes and dreams. Eady satisfies my desire to see a political policy-based campaign at Brock, but Rose is undeniably “presidential.” I wouldn’t for a second blame the Brock undergrads for electing him. I can’t expect them to vote based on the priorities of my own political lens. I don’t expect my issues and priorities to be the same as the undergraduate voters. Voters can, and should, base their decision on the content of the platforms and impressions of watching the debates. I only hope to provide additional context and nuance to the understanding of the candidates and the world we are co-habitating.