It’s that time of the year again when suddenly every undergraduate student is a rock star because we finally have the power to make a difference in the way decisions are made on the Trent campus.
The TCSA elections will be running March 10-14, and the campus is already overrun with eager candidates requesting the participation of the student body.
However, in spite of this, there still seems to be a general air of disenchantment about elections on campus.
Turnout to last year’s elections was abysmal with only 18.4 percent of the student population showing up to vote.
There are numerous theories as to why this may be.
Nicole Cameron, one of the candidates in the upcoming election, believes the problem is lack of information and the general apathy among the student body when it comes to elections.
Kelsey, a first-year student agrees that dissemination of information is probably the best way to get people to vote. “I don’t know much about voting, I have never voted so [I] don’t really think to do it. You think the other peoples’ votes will count so ours is not as important.”
Although the information is available, students rarely make the effort to find it.
Maybe it is because many of us feel jaded, as if our votes do not really make a difference in the way decisions are made on campus.
Once again, nothing could be further from the truth.
Although selecting officials is part of the process, TCSA elections are more than that. They provide a channel through which students can weigh in on key decisions at Trent.
For example, last year student opinion was sought on the Fossil Fuel Divestment Proposal.
Boykin Smith, the TCSA International Student Equity Commissioner, strongly believes that a difference truly can be made through voting,
“Your vote is more than a tick on someone’s name. It is a liberating act towards solidarity for what you would like your student union to be. Some might argue that members don’t vote because representatives do not care about them. Others say that the TCSA has done nothing and will do nothing for them in the near future, but by not voting we are losing an important opportunity to have student voices heard by leaders. When we vote, we choose representatives who will make the laws and policies that govern our association and campus.”
The TCSA has made considerable strides to make voting more accesible for students.
Stephanie Laing, Chief Elections Officer (CEO), gave some insight into the new branding campaign that will hopefully transform the way students look at voting,“TCSA has undertaken numerous steps to increase voter turnout during the 2014 spring elections. This includes, but is not limited to, our branding of the elections with our Promote the Vote campaign, as well as introducing debates between candidates, informal Q&A sessions with the CEO, and a workshop with current executive and equity commissioners.
“Additionally, our website has been redesigned as more interactive and informative. TCSA is also transitioning to online voting and […] we expect the voter turnout to increase considerably as a result.”
Creating a convenient and informative platform for candidates to rally may make a difference in the numbers, but at the end of the day a culture of voting needs to be promoted.
Laing suggests that the university dedicate some effort to instilling this in students within lectures and other means. However, the major responsibility for this falls on the TCSA and they have so far made a valiant effort at getting it across.
At the end of the day, love it or hate it, TCSA is responsible for many of the resources available to us, from transportation to health care/education and even student discounts. Students cannot let decisions affecting fundamental factors of their life such as these fall into the hands of others, so log on and Promote the Vote!