Another URSU election has come and gone, and the students have spoken … or not. I congratulate the winners of the URSU election and commend the candidates who did not win the election.
For this particular trip to the polls, I see a double-edged sword. On one hand, I think it is great that we had an URSU campaign period that wasn’t ridiculous, petty, politically partisan, or crass; and none of the candidates had an ulterior motive to abuse the privileges that comes with being elected to URSU.
On the other edge of that sword, the expected lower voter turnout this year it is also a bad thing. The voting numbers have not been released yet, but of a few things we can be certain. The voter turnout will probably be less than 20 per cent of the student population and that most positions were won by acclamations while others remain vacant. Apathy has, unfortunately, struck again.
Apathy sucks, it really does, but I think I understand why people don’t take part in voting. Like any other trend, interest in voting or being a part of an activist movement (be it social, political, or human rights comes and goes in sharp spikes and steep declines. For example, interest in student politics and activism increased in 2011 when URSU attempted to separate from the Canadian Federation of Students. The separation attempt ended up being a catalyst for participation in student politics.
However, many students, voters and non-voters became polarized by the implied partisan stances affiliated with each side of the issue. Since then, total voting percentages have increased, but now that there is no longer a threat of a politically partisan fanatic running for any of the URSU exec positions this year, perhaps some students felt there was no need to vote.
Maybe the next generation of post-secondary students don’t care about how their university community functions to the point of living by the philosophy, “I don’t care. Someone else will step up and take care of it.”
Which now brings us full circle. If no one does step up in becoming involved with URSU or any other sphere in politics, that leaves our political apparatus susceptible to abuse of tyrants-in-waiting and horrifying results. While the results of this year will probably be beneficial for URSU for the next year, that does not mean URSU is safe from what we saw happen two years ago, if students continue to be apathetic.
Photo by Edward Dodd