The nitty gritty: How students prepare for USSU elections

By in Opinions

From posters to pizza to photoshoots, candidates pursuing executive positions in the University of Saskatchewan Students’ Union know that there is no holding back in the battle for student representation.

Elections season is a polarizing time on campus. The Sheaf has not gone out and gathered statistics, but it’s fair to assume that if you were to pull 10 students from the Arts Tunnel on any given day and asked them about the elections, seven of them wouldn’t know it’s even happening, three of them would be working on campaigns, and out of them all, maybe two would actually even know ussuelections-09what the USSU is.

Apathy doesn’t stop the candidates. Running for a position on the USSU is serious business — to some — and gambling your rent, sanity and academic standing for a chance at a nice office and a nametag is just the nature of the game.

So what have a handful of hopeful students gone through to try and secure your vote? Four of the nine executive candidates shared their experiences from the campaign trail this year, and a day in their life sounds like turmoil.

Let’s start with the cold hard cash. Candidates are expected to shoulder the extraneous costs of their campaigns, as well as pay a deposit to the USSU. This year, candidates have spent between $200-500 each on posters, headshots, snacks for volunteers, social media advertising, wardrobe updates and more.

Working part-time to pay your bills? Not if you’re a USSU candidate. Whether utilizing vacation time or dropping shifts, for some candidates, election season has meant not being able to work at all. This is huge for some, and not getting the job in the end might hurt more than merely their pride.

Campaigning — if you want to win — is a huge time commitment. Visibility is paramount, even if only around 20 per cent of students actually vote. Proving yourself worthy means pushing yourself beyond your regular haunts and getting out and meeting new people between classes.

In fact, campaigning might mean spending a lot more time on campus than ever before. In the very first minutes of the first campaign day, most candidates had organized themselves and groups of volunteers to hang posters in high-visibility spots at the stroke of midnight. Some camped out at these spots for more than six hours just to secure some prime wall real estate.

The hustle doesn’t end until the last day of voting. This year, four candidate forums were hosted in Louis’ Pub, the north concourse of Place Riel, the Engineering Students’ Lounge and the Edwards School of Business. Students could bring questions for the candidates, and each one was asked to give a short speech. These — coupled with countless student events, meetings with student groups, council talks, interviews and even charity endeavors — have left candidates without any free spaces on their Google calendars.

While some candidates have gotten away with missing none or very few classes, others have ducked out completely for up to two weeks. If you think extensions are handed out to those individuals with cool posters on the walls, think again. Few candidates have even requested extra time to complete assignments, and not all professors are gentle with their deadlines.

Imagine having your face, your personality, your mistakes and your reputation literally plastered on every surface in every building on campus. It takes some courage to ask people to trust you.

Let’s give credit where it’s due. Whether these elections are meaningful or not, the candidates put a whole lot of themselves on the line so that they can try to make an impact on the student experience.

Emily Migchels

Graphic: Lesia Karalash / Graphics Editor