The Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) has rebounded from recent controversy with a highly successful 2015 general election.
According to the results released on Thursday, March 19,—still unofficial at the time of publication—more than 22% of the TCSA’s membership of 6000 full-time undergraduate Trent students cast ballots to contest levies and elect the association’s board of directors for the 2015/16 term.
The association’s new president will be Alaine Spiwak, this year’s Ethical Standards Commissioner, who won the position by a wide margin, beating out each one of the three opposing candidates by more than 500 votes.
During the election campaign, Spiwak’s platform focused on the need for the TCSA to re-engage with its membership. After her victory she commented, “building and leading a strong unified executive and board will ensure we can focus on what really maters: the students and their voices.”
Other election results saw TCSA employee Hilary Stafford become the new Vice-President Campaigns and Equity as she edged out Betty Wondimu and Asgiga Corriveau, both Equity Commissioners on this year’s TCSA board.
The final executive position, the Vice-President University and College Affairs, was closely contested as Lady Eaton College’s Minister of Finance Pippa O’Brien clinched the post over TCSA Events Co-ordinator Kelsi Dalton.
Meanwhile, all six students running for Equity Commissioner positions ran uncontested and were acclaimed with strong mandates.
The results also seem to indicate a affirmation of the student levy system at Trent University, as all five levy questions posed to the membership were accepted with broad support.
Starting next year, Trent Valley Fencing (see page 19) and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Society will each receive a $2.00 refundable levy. Students also approved the continuation of the $2.15 Frontier College levy, which will now be collected under the organization’s new name Trent Students for Literacy.
A modest increase to the TCSA transit levy was also accepted by the membership (see page four for more details), as was the unification of the existing TCSA health and dental levies.
Women making strides on TCSA executive
Significantly, next year will mark the first full term in the organization’s 20 year history that all executive positions will be held by women. The only other time women have constituted the entire TCSA executive committee was in 2005/2006 when a male executive member resigned his position.
This milestone continues a broader trend towards increased female representation seen over the past few electoral cycles.
With her win, Spiwak becomes just the fourth woman to hold the office of TCSA president since the union’s founding in 1995, but she is the second woman to gain presidency in the past three calendar years.
Furthermore, of the eight candidates running for executive positions within the organization this year five of them (62%) were women.
Election sees large participation increase
Voter turnout was up significantly this year as almost 1400 students elected to cast their ballot. This represents a dramatic increase over last year’s spring elections in which on 898 students took part (16.3% of membership).
While some students took to Facebook to point out that the turnout still represents less than a quarter of the total membership, it is worth noting that 22% percent actually ranks as a higher percentage than most student union elections across the province.
For example, last month the University of Guelph’s Central Student Association elections drew only 19% of the undergraduate body. Meanwhile, the Students’ General Association at Laurentian University, which is comparable in size to Trent and the TCSA, managed to draw only a 16% percent turnout in their recent general elections.
Beyond the general voter turnout rate, the TCSA was also witnessed an uptick in the number and diversity of candidates they were able to attract.
These elections saw 15 students compete for nine unique board positions as compared to 11 students for eight positions last year. Although there are still six equity positions that will be vacant until by-elections in the fall, this is one less than last year.