In less than two weeks hundreds of University of Winnipeg students will take to the polls to elect the 2015-16 board of directors for the U of W Students’ Association (UWSA).
The elections, taking place from March 23 to 25, present an opportunity for U of W students to choose who will advocate on their behalf and work to improve the campus environment in the coming year.
The Uniter took to Riddell Hall on Friday to get a sense of how students are feeling about the elections.
While several students we spoke to were not aware of the timing or structure of the election, most expressed a willingness to vote following a brief explanation.
Oliver LaVictoire, a first-year business student, says he will absolutely cast a ballot.
“It’s important for us as students to exercise our right to have a say in who’s making decisions on our behalf,” he says.
Although our small sample of students all expressed their intention to vote, voter turnout for the last year’s general election was only nine per cent or 922 votes. While this may not seem like an issue to many students, low turnout in any election means that a small group of people are making decisions for all those who do not vote, and the results may not reflect the actual wishes of the population.
The rationale behind why many students may choose not to exercise their democratic right was provided by Vivin Simon, a second-year chemistry student, who said with a heavy course load and exams rapidly approaching, voting “is definitely not a huge priority.”
Outgoing UWSA president Rorie Mcleod Arnould says voters often don’t realize the degree of agency elected representatives have.
“The UWSA is an opportunity for people to band together and act collectively, and the nature of that collective action is really heavily determined by who sits on the board of directors,” Arnould says.
“If you want to see your students’ association pursue things like the U-Pass or the elimination of interest on student loans… If you think it is important that we stand up with groups calling for justice for missing and murdered indigenous women; if you think it is important that we stand up and say ‘no, sexism and misogyny are not okay,’ then it’s important that you take this opportunity to work together in your communities and create the change that you want to see in the world.”
Nominations for candidates are open up until Fri. March 13 and interested students still have an opportunity to put their names forward for any of 19 positions on the board.