Division of Power #8 Why you should vote in the UWSA election

I’ve generally never supported vote mobs or vague declarations encouraging young people to vote.

This is not because I don’t value the democratic process, or because I don’t want young people to become engaged in that process, it is simply because vague declarations about the importance of voting, regardless of the candidate or political party, are almost always disingenuous.

For instance, during the 2011 federal election, several students (largely in the politics department) held a vote mob at the University of Winnipeg. As part of the awareness exercise, they scrawled a series of messages in chalk on the sidewalks around the main campus.

“Change” was the most popular platitude. The immediate question that came to my mind was how this ostensibly non-partisan campaign can claim to be supporting no party in particular when “change” naturally connotes a change of government.

Similarly, young people typically vote for progressive parties. I doubt this fact was lost on the intelligent and educated vote mob participants last year.

Essentially, an “Anything But Conservative” youth campaign was being masked as a benign non-partisan exercise. I have no problem with Get Out the Vote efforts, as long as you’re clear about your intentions.

All that being said, every University of Winnipeg student should go out and vote in the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) general election!

Yeah, this is a vague declaration, but it’s not without merit.

First, The Uniter doesn’t endorse any candidate, but we do report on the activities of the UWSA and we advertise the policy positions and platforms of all candidates as equally as we can. We let you, as students, make up your mind.

Secondly, the UWSA is non-partisan and all the voters are students.

You’re not voting for a party, but judging each candidate, or slate of candidates, separately. You’re also not obligated to vote for two candidates for two separate positions simply because they’re running together on a slate. 

However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t ideological differences between the candidates. There are. And it would be disingenuous not to fairly point them out.

I think this election ultimately comes down, at least at the presidential level, between an incumbent who wants to stay the course in certain ways in terms of ties with the Canadian Federation of Students (CFS), and with the ongoing debate about Soma Cafe, and two candidates who would like to re-evaluate relations between the UWSA and CFS and make sure the cafe modernizes and perhaps makes a profit.

It is worth noting that one of the presidential candidates, William Ring, seems to have at least the informal support of former UWSA president and Downtown BIZ rep Jason Syvixay, who advocated for Soma’s closure and didn’t have much use for the CFS.

Syvixay attempted to do away with the CFS liaison position, did not support a motion at the CFS AGM that would have made it harder to leave the organization and did not hold a Day of Action in his second term.

Lauren Bosc, the incumbent, has gone in the opposite direction by supporting Soma as a non-profit venture, voting to retain a CFS liaison position and holding a Day of Action event while also pursuing some new initiatives around accessibility, particularly for transgender students.

I’m not saying that William Ring is a carbon copy of the 2010-2011 president. That’s definitely not the case. He has advanced his own notable ideas around improving communication with student groups and individuals. However, he does seem to agree with a lot of the former president’s policy positions and so does the other presidential candidate, Rob Holt.

Take some time to read the hyperlinks above. These are not cut and dry issues and they affect your pocket books and your experience as a student on campus.

The UWSA takes in millions of dollars of your money annually and voting gives you a say in where that money goes.

Polls are open from March 12-15 in the Buhler Centre, Science Complex and the main campus and all you need is your student number to cast a ballot.


Division of Power is a biweekly exploration of politics and federalism as it pertains to Winnipeg.