Student View


(Gazette, March 20, 1997)

Mendoza says "A year's enough!"

By Kathleen Lippa

Even first thing in the morning, Robert Mendoza loves to chat. This helped when I scheduled a bright-and-early meeting with him last week to talk about his decision to stay out of the Council of the Students' Union (CSU) presidential race this year.

He's graduating in April, and also, he explained, "I'm burned out. It's time to hand the reins over and let somebody else tackle it."

Like many people, I am generally skeptical about student leaders. But I always found Mr. Mendoza a welcome relief from those political wannabes who usually run for and get elected CSU president. He is cheerful, bursting with energy -- maybe an incorrigible flirt at times -- but sincerely interested in the average student's concerns. Even in this year's CSU handbook Mr. Mendoza promised a free coffee to any student who came for a chat in his office.

"Two students showed up," he said, "but we talked for an hour, and they walked out of here probably a lot more aware of what goes on."

Mr. Mendoza entered student politics initially -- as he put it -- to legitimize his right to complain. Fed up with candidates who saw the CSU as a mere stepping stone into the "real world" of mainstream politics,

Mr. Mendoza stayed true to his campaign mantra: "I'm a student, not a politician," and worked at restoring credibility to the CSU.

"I had no aspirations of using this as a stepping stone," Mr. Mendoza said of his year as president. "If it gets me a job, great. If not, it's been a wonderful experience."

People, he said, were his favorite part of the job.

"Everybody I've met has a different vision of what the university should be," he said. "When you think that the [Thomson Student Centre] was originally designed as a hockey rink, it's intriguing talking to the people who've been here for 25 years, who can tell you about all the renovations that have gone on."

Sitting down with Memorial's president, Dr. Arthur May, having Premier Brian Tobin pull him aside for a chat about student issues, and being the head honcho on campus, are perks Mr. Mendoza enjoyed, yet he gladly hands them over to the next president.

"I'd do it again, but I wouldn't do it a second time," he said, asking me if I understood what he meant. Since he avoids ever using that annoying political banter when he speaks, I understood him completely.

See ya, Robert.