The TCSA spring elections were marked by a 23.4 per cent election turnout, with approximately one per cent increase in voter turnout from last year. In addition to the campaigning done by the TCSA, the increase in voter turnout is attributed to the unification of part-time students with full-time students under the TCSA.
During the election, Alaine Spiwak won the election by a tremendous landslide, beating candidate Corey Leblanc by 81 per cent majority (with a total percentage of six per cent abstention).
In addition, the executive team included the creation of Vice President Clubs and External Affairs position, which was won by Pippa O’Brien, beating out Sam Khairia by 59 per cent (with 12 per cent abstention). Anna Lenova won for the Vice President of University and College Affairs over Andrew Clark.
Perhaps the most contested executive position is the Vice President for Campaigns and Equity, where Ryan Newman won by a close 44 per cent against Brendan Campbell.
The five other equity positions were uncontested, while a refundable $0.75 levy for the community movement, a $2 non-refundable levy increase for the Trent Vegetable Garden and $2 refundable levy for the warming room were passed.
Equity vs. Advocacy
There is an issue inherently apparent in virtually most student unions that is rarely spoken of, yet has a significant role in how student are represented by a student union.
The structure of the Board of Directors of the TCSA govern the operations of the student union while the elected executive team, together with staff members, ensure the day-to-day functions, all while representing the interests of students.
One of the most important aspects of representing interests is achieved through equity work; by addressing the different political and socio-economic challenges students face in post-secondary institutions.
The VPCE is in charge of working with campus and community partners to work towards a campus free of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia, and challenge all other forms of oppression.
Ideally this position would be held by an individual who experiences forms of systemic barriers; a person who is from a marginalized and/or racialized group.
For some this might a ridiculous idea, but if we examine the simplest form of the definition of equity it is “the quality of being fair.”
Essentially, as a black woman, my experiences within society and the structural barriers I and many other women of color face cannot and will never be experience by non-marginalized individuals, even if we account the same socio-economic status.
Now, had the position been Vice President of Campaigns and Advocacy, the definition will acknowledge the person in the position can consult with and can advocate for these issues to be addressed.
Unfortunately, per the definition of the position VPCE does not represent equity or the very students it is supposed to represent. In addition, it doesn’t address the inherent limitation of the position.
Nonetheless, equity commissioners can alleviate this problem to the extent that the VPCE wishes to incorporate their campaigns.
Although this is a topic that has surfaced during the elections, this election process has definitely provided the student union and students the chance to define the values they choose to uphold.
Equity was an overarching theme transpired by students’ choices of most candidates and levy questions supported.