With the official federal election date set for October 19, students face a lot of challenges ranging from being a first-time voter to not being in one’s own local riding. There is also an issue of convenience with regards to a student’s responsibilities, such as lectures, labs, seminars, or placements. Elections Canada states, “By law, everyone who is eligible to vote must have three consecutive hours to cast their vote on Election Day.
If your hours of work do not allow for three consecutive hours to vote, your employer must give you time off.” Unfortunately, this law doesn’t remedy the issues most students face. Thus, in an effort to combat the challenges students have to navigate when heading to the polls, a group of Senators in collaboration with the TCSA presented a motion that would allow for students to not be penalized for missing lectures, seminars, labs, and placements as a result of voting on Election Day. This would stipulate that students ask for labs and placements to be cleared by the assigned instructor/professor prior to Election Day.
“This initiative was inspired by previous efforts to present motions to Trent’s Senate,” explained Pippa O’Brien, Vice President University & College Affairs, adding, “We were encouraged by the support we received by Trent University Faculty Association and CUPE 1 when we first presented the idea.”
After several drafts and the motion being presented to the student caucus, it was finally presented by Tim Hance, Senior Senator of Otonabee College, and was passed by Senate unanimously!
“This motion being one of the most successful motions in the history of Trent’s Senate presents a pivotal moment not only in student leadership, but in university administration as well,” noted Hance, adding, “It represents a moment that is uniquely Trent, essentially everyone coming together to make voting for students more accessible.”
He also highlighted the fact that going to the polls presents a “uniquely Canadian experience,” whereby the parties we may choose to vote for may not fully encompass our affiliations due to that large spectrum of political and socio-economic structures.
For example, one might decide to vote for one of the three main parties in the election but socially support other lesser known parties, or vice versa. Students play an essential role not only at Trent but in our economy as a whole. Initiatives such as this are intended to create a dialogue and foster an environment that would remain long after the federal elections are held, one where students can voice their opinions and speak about what matters most to them.
Both O’Brien and Hance hope that students recognize the efforts made to make voting more accessible and that it would encourage students to go out and vote!