Call it snake eyes - this year’s University of Winnipeg Students’ Association election will see the organization’s presidency go uncontested, while the rest of the electoral slate only features a single incumbent.
Polls in this year’s election close Thursday, March 4, with 22 candidates vying for 11 positions within the students’ association.
However, Megan Fultz says she is disappointed she is running unopposed for the presidency.
“The UWSA executive and Board of Directors represent 10,000 students,” said Fultz, who served this past year as adaptive services student co-director.
“It’s really important that the people they elect are the people that they want to represent them.”
Although Fultz is hopeful her campaign has communicated the importance of voting, she says an uncontested presidential position is only part of the students’ association’s problem.
“(We need to) not only deal with uncontested executive positions, but also look at how we can fill positions on the Board that are completely empty,” said Fultz, adding that she hopes to fill the seven currently unoccupied spots on the Board.
Meanwhile, Andree Forest is seeking re-election as vice-president internal and is the only incumbent in the race.
With only one incumbent running for re-election, Fultz sees an opportunity for her full slate of executives, Candidates United, to move the association forward.
“It will be refreshing in a lot of ways. Having a full slate that has similar priorities and continuity within our team will be really great.”
Lauren Bosc, who has been the UWSA president for the last two years, isn’t worried by the lack of interest in her position.
“It’s been my experience that that’s really fluctuated every year,” she said.
Bosc doesn’t expect the lack of a presidential race to affect voter turnout, which rose to 11.5 per cent last year, an improvement from 2011, which was under 10 per cent.
“There are also so many contested non-executive director positions - I feel like having more contested positions brings people out to the elections regardless.”
Last week, University of Manitoba students posted a 23 per cent turn out - just over 6,000 voted in the University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) election.
The UWSA has never had more than 13.3 per cent of students participate.
Laura Sexsmith, vice-president student services, said the turnover is just another way the organization is growing and progressing.
“I think it will be able to continue to do its thing despite a large shift (in the executive directors),” she said.
Outgoing execs hope transcript, U-Pass project move forward
Meanwhile, Bosc says she and Sexsmith have been working to introduce extra-curricular transcripts to complement regular academic work.
Despite the large turnover of executive directors, Bosc hopes her project, which has already started to go through processes at the university, will be taken up by the new executive.
“My role will be to make sure whoever is sitting in my position next year knows what has happened and what needs to happen,” she said.
Zach Fleisher, vice-president advocate, has been busy negotiating a universal bus pass for students with UMSU.
Although the student groups are searching for sponsorships to make up a $3.5-million shortfall needed to implement the $8.5-million program, Fleisher expects it to remain a priority of next year’s executive.
Fultz is ready to move forward with U-Pass negotiations so long as students are supportive.
“There was such a high positive response,” she said. “If students are in favour, it’s our job to make it a priority.”
Published in Volume 67, Number 23 of The Uniter (March 14, 2013)