It is time for students to exercise their voting rights.
Multiple spots that went unfilled in the main March election are available on the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association (UWSA) Board of Directors, and campaigning for positions begins this week.
An important role of these directors is that they each give voice to a particular constituency of students.
“The science director would be the liaison between that group of students and the board, expressing their needs and how their school experience is unique and making sure that sets the direction of the organization,” UWSA President Megan Fultz says.
The candidates this year are as follows. For Student Living, Maggie Davidson. Status of Women, Jazmin Papadopolous, Caitlan Cote and Talula Schlegel. Recreation and Athletics, Andrea Angioli and Rachel Dunsmore (Co-Directorship) and Anwar Ahmed. Education, Matthew Taylor. Grad Student Director, Nana Ama Addae and Kaitlyn Duthrie-Kannikkatt (Co-Directorship). Science Director, Dylan Duval, Jason Au and Keegan Scott (Co-Directorship).
Students can seek out the directors of whichever group they identify with to get their own views and needs taken into account in political decisions.
According to Zach Fleisher, Chief Elections Commissioner of the UWSA, voter turnout is usually pretty low. “Anywhere from about 9-14 percent, but it’s been going up in recent years.”
Fultz says she wants to see more students voting as there are some big changes coming up this year, including UW President and Vice-Chancellor Lloyd Axworthy’s retirement.
“They are currently looking for a new President, so I feel like the direction of the University is shifting potentially,” she says. “It’s really important that students are a part of that conversation and what they want their experience here to look like.”
Low voter turnout might be attributed to students not knowing what influence they can have, or their unfamiliarity with the UWSA in general.
Shantel Saliga, a UW business student, does not plan on voting. “I don’t really care who is elected because I don’t know how it will impact me, not to mention that I didn’t even know about it. Lots of students come for their classes and then leave campus, not really caring to be involved.”
The Board of Directors already has a new referendum that is next to be voted on. It involves voting on whether or not the University of Winnipeg should implement purchasing policies that reflect fair trade ideals and ban the sale of sweatshop goods. This would affect and apply to all official University of Winnipeg or Wesmen branded merchandise.
Fleisher encourages students to exercise their rights and have a say.
“It’s my opinion that students, in every way that they can, participate in the organization and have a say in how it operates because it’s their money and it’s their campus, their representation.”
There will be opportunities in the first week of campaigning to hear speeches from the candidates; check the UWSA website for further info.