The unofficial results of the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) election show one of the biggest voter turnouts in recent years at 13.8 per cent.
Candidates say the number is up from 2016’s 8.2 per cent for a few reasons – one, there were four candidates running for president, and many other positions were contested, including directors. Secondly, a high number of accessible polling stations got students thinking about voting and made it easy to do so. Most importantly, according to new president Laura Garinger, everyone involved in the 2017 election put in countless hours of hard work.
“People wanted to get involved,” Garinger says. “It goes to show how hard everyone was working on their campaign and getting people out to vote.”
She won with 463 votes as part of the UWSA Connect slate, all of whom won in their respective positions. Megan Linton received 490 votes for vice president of external affairs, Brenden Gali saw 474 votes for vice president of student affairs and Morgan Brightnose received a substantial 697 votes for vice president of internal affairs. All results are unofficial until ratified.
This will be Garinger’s second year with the UWSA, and she’s hoping to hone in on and improve services for students. She says the U-Pass program will need refining to include more students who want to opt in, as well as allowing other groups to opt out. For example, those living in residency currently aren’t able to opt out, although they live close to campus and might not need to bus.
“International students are paying too much,” Garinger adds. “They pay about three times what an undergrad domestic student does, and then there’s the currency exchange and having to find accommodations here.”
Garinger says Lions Manor will no longer house students due to unacceptable living conditions, and that means finding additional housing for students, both international and domestic.
Brightnose says in addition to working on services, which he has been doing with the UWSA already, he hopes to keep students informed on what the organization is doing.
“Transparency and accountability,” he says. “That’s the standard, and that’s what I ran on. I want to make documents and things we do available to students to read.”
Garinger agrees – students often don’t see the work the UWSA does. What they do see is the fee they pay, so more communication is needed.
Linton says she will focus on accessibility for students at the university.
“This past semester, I was working on making spaces less ableist,” she says. “This is a big thing people forget about, because it’s uncomfortable to talk about.
“This past semester, I had four classes, and all four had field trips, walking-based trips … I can’t always do that, especially in the winter, so I was like, ‘This is really shitty, and so other people definitely find this shitty as well.’”
For more information on election results, visit theuwsa.ca.