Francis – The (Portrayed) Villain During the Presidential Debate of 2018

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For the ones who have watched the SMUSA Presidential Debate this year, what an entertaining class act, to say the least. This is about Francis Xavier Erik Sena. And no, this is not a pro or anti Francis article, either. To start with, Francis is an international student who is currently studying his second year in Bachelor of Commerce and one of the three candidates making a run for the SMUSA presidency this year. With interpersonal skills, he has developed whilst living in Indonesia for 9 years, Oman for 8 years, and Germany for 5 years, he believes that he “knows how to talk” and “deal with different people from different parts of the world.” He intends to make SMUSA run as efficiently as possible and believes that he has what it takes to direct SMUSA in ways it had previously failed to do so! But following the debate, and even before starting to prove his capabilities, he has already faced an awful lot of backlash from the student body.

Now, the debate itself was pretty self-explanatory. We all saw who said what, who did what and certainly saw how Francis interrupted the Chair, and refused to give up his mic when he was supposed to. This awfully imprudent behaviour, needless to say disrespectful, is one of the many reasons why he has been depicted as the ‘bad guy’ this election. But isn’t that exactly how it has been for the last few years? Just like we have Francis this election, we had Xiang Lin last election and Scott Byrne the year before. Why? Because that’s what we do every election, we choose this one guy, portray him and his actions like those of a villain. Though what for – but the sake of our own entertainment. Before even listening to their ideas or considering the little good they could possibly bring to SMUSA, we shun them and ignore all the efforts they attempt to put out in front of a crowd, and prove their worth to be the President. I have watched the debate, and regardless of whom I vote for, I must say that most of what Francis was talking about made better sense than a lot of blabbering I heard from people who have stood at the same podium and later been elected as the President. That for one did not make its way into our campus’ hot gossip line. What rather made it was how “Francis and President Trump are very much alike” and “if Francis gets the position as a President, God knows what awful things he may do!” For goodness sake, the SMUSA President doesn’t run on his own and we all know how far his reach would be; he couldn’t possibly be starting a dictatorship on campus (based on another comment heard about him).

Last year, Ossama (who is running again this year to be re-elected as the President) had used mental health as a key figure that won him his way up to the presidency, but suddenly when he’s watching his opponent getting roasted, why is he silent? What is the point if we throw all these labels at someone, whose upbringing, life or background is something we have no clue about. Someone may have not had it as easy with learning basic courtesies as we did, yet do we still engage in useless banter demeaning them? By no means should Francis’ attitude during the debate be excused or underplayed but had the same been done by Ossama or Yuri, we’d be laughing about in hysteria, but too bad as it is Francis.

In a brief interview with Francis, he clarified that he mentioned no support for President Trump, but had been told that his speaking mannerism has burdened him with loads of comparisons to the POTUS. So, should it be acceptable to compare a university student to somebody like President Trump, given that we all know what heinous crimes he has committed all over the world? No. Period. When it comes to individuality, Saint Mary’s University students seem to be as accepting as any educational university could possibly be, but in reality, the case is far from that. The point was never to make Francis look like a good guy. And on that same token, no candidate should be looked down as the bad guy either. As the years come, so will a lot of bad, but for now, let us not judge one’s reach by anything but their actions. As Bruce Adler had once said, “Don’t underestimate the power of another human being to lift you to the highest heaven, or cast you to the lowest hell” – may we remember how deep our words can wound, all year long, even during the election season.

Nazia Sazneen, Section Editor

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