About a dozen university students are balancing their studies with the demands of being candidates in the provincial election.
The NDP has five student candidates, the Greens have four and the Sask. Party has one. (The Saskatchewan Liberal Party could not be reached.)
Alex Mortensen, a University of Regina student running for the NDP in Cypress Hills, says the key is organization.
“I’m trying to keep really organized and use my time as efficiently as possible,” she said about the demands of school and campaigning.
Mortensen, a second-year political science and French double major, says she chose to run for the NDP because she believes “in equal opportunities and people benefiting rather than large corporations.”
Shawn Setyo, a University of Saskatchewan student in International Studies, says he has always been interested in politics and grew up in a family with a history of public service.
“Growing up I had difficulty relating to any of the top parties,” Setyo said. “The environment, the health of our democracy and the nuclear issue were never hot topics for any of these groups.”
It was a geology class in university that ultimately made him join the Green Party after “realizing the harsh realities of global climate change.”
“Every piece of their platform spoke out to me, issues like sustainable development, fighting poverty and electoral reform were all addressed. This was the only party in my eyes that held the concern of all Canadians in mind, and that is why I joined the Greens.”
Setyo, running in Saskatoon-Eastview, says that although campaigning can be tiring, his previous candidacy for the federal Greens and his fellow candidates keep him going.
Both Mortensen and Setyo cited the cost of post-secondary education as a major concern.
“I would like to see the government implementing programs to make university more affordable and attainable to everyone, to make more daycare spaces for university students with children and to create more living spaces for students,” said Mortensen.
Jennifer Campeau, the Sask. Party’s lone student candidate, emphasized student debt as something she wants to focus on if elected.
“Student loans are not free money,” Campeau said, “and a lot of students get out and are in debt.”
She wants to focus on accessibility of education, as well as increasing scholarship and bursary opportunities.
Campeau is pursuing a PhD in Native Studies at the U of S and running in Saskatoon-Fairview, a riding that has been an NDP stronghold since the 1980s. Still, she has been door-knocking since spring.
“I have been out there for months, several days a week actually,” she said.
All three candidates interviewed for this article agreed student engagement needed to increase, and that students brought perspectives to government currently in short supply.
“I think it’s important that we have representation across all parties,” said Campeau. “And I’m glad students are becoming involved in the political process. Otherwise how is our voice going to get heard?”
Graphic: Brianna Whitmore/The Sheaf