Want to win the University of Winnipeg Students’ Association election? Great news - you can.
Theatre buff? Wesmen player? Science whiz? Believe it or not, unlikely candidates have the ability to win the UWSA election.
In 2009, I ran for UWSA President despite being a complete student union outsider, and to my surprise, I beat out four familiar faces of the UWSA in an election that boasted the highest voter turnout in the organization’s history.
Employ the following tips at your own discretion:
1. Check your political ideology at the door
Your role is to represent over 10,000 students on campus, who all have varying opinions, beliefs and values. Rather than dividing students on campus, based on their political inclination, create opportunities for discussion. Let students drive the political actions of the organization.
2. Use a megaphone!
If no one knows what the UWSA does, who is it really serving?
Tighten up on your communication skills because students need to hear from you. If walking into a cafeteria to talk to random students seems frightening, this isn’t the job for you.
Do whatever it takes to get your message out and students will appreciate your efforts.
3. Skip classroom presentations
Promoting yourself in front of an auditorium of 400 students may sound tempting, but at the end of the day, you’ll find yourself learning very little about their interests or campus/student needs during your brief presentation.
Don’t make this a disingenuous contest.
Make time to talk to students one-on-one. Learn their names, what they’re studying, what makes them tick and what they want from their UWSA.
4. Give away free stuff
Students pay a fee to the UWSA so whenever possible, student life activities and events should be reasonably cheap or free.
Note: Hot dogs are a hit during orientation week.
5. Build partnerships
With so many candidates running, it’s important that you learn about each individual’s platform. Bottom line - you’re going to work with these students for a year so build connections early and set the framework for future collaboration.
Be realistic about your platform because student reps on the UWSA board only serve a one-year term.
Your fundamental goal here is to represent the best interests of students on campus.
Create outlets for students to access meaningful resources and opportunities. And don’t reinvent the wheel - the UWSA works on various campaigns and provides a variety of student services. Look at how to improve these by getting feedback from students on campus.
As someone who went through this vigorous election process twice, I commend the candidates who have stepped forward to run, but highly encourage students to be critical when choosing their representatives.
Remember, the UWSA board is here to serve you so take part in the discussion and get involved with your student union.
Jason Syvixay, a B.Sc. and B.A. graduate from the University of Winnipeg, is the public relations coordinator for the Downtown BIZ and served students as UWSA president from 2009 to 2011.
Published in Volume 66, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 7, 2012)