Canadian universities are no strangers to low voter turnout in student union elections, including the University of Saskatchewan. It’s high time we pay attention to this issue.
In 2019, the University of Toronto’s Students’ Union experienced a by-election voter turnout of 2.9 per cent. That same year, the Ryerson Students’ Union experienced its lowest voter turnout since 2014.
In 2018, the U of S Students’ Union saw a voter turnout of 12.5 per cent, with the undergraduate student body casting votes on uncontested candidates.
Considering the draining effect that the last year has had and is still having on all of us, who we want representing us in our students’ union is more important than ever.
As the return to campus looms over us in the form of both hope and apprehension, we must think about who can carry our concerns forward with actionable steps during what will perhaps be one of the strangest and most difficult transitions of our lives.
The USSU is responsible for plenty of things, including but not limited to addressing student concerns, campus club ratifications and providing student health and dental coverage.
Although disinterest on the part of students might be one reason for low voter turnout, it is still important that we understand how the union functions so we can have a say in the issues that affect both ourselves and others on campus.
You may not care about who becomes USSU president in the upcoming election — after all, there are only two candidates running for the position. You might think that your input changes nothing or that your issues will never be prioritized.
You want things to change, but you feel helpless. I think that is something that all students feel.
Despite these doubts, it is important to recognize that just as every action has its consequences, so does every inaction. Remember, there is always someone or something affected by both the decisions you make and the ones you don’t.
The results of our student union elections might not favour the candidates you voted for, but by voting, you still get to raise your concerns to the USSU. You get an opportunity to make your voice heard and shed light on overlooked issues.
Even better, take this engagement a level higher — get involved in student governance yourself and work towards making the changes you want to see on campus.
In a year filled with a roller coaster of emotions including plenty of tension and little hope, we cannot possibly let ourselves sit back and watch this student election unfold when we have the right to vote.
We must be active and engaged with the issues that affect us and our communities.
Although it might feel like it sometimes, our role as students is not simply to finish our studies and go home — we are preparing for careers and lives in the real world. If you don’t make your voice heard about issues around you now, what are you going to do about it in the future?
There are a plethora of reasons why you might not want to vote in the upcoming USSU elections, but there is one powerful reason why you should: you have a choice, and that is reason enough to cast a ballot.
Voting for the USSU elections takes place on PAWS on March 24 and 25.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email email@example.com. Fiza is a third-year undergraduate student studying computer science and the Staff Writer at The Sheaf Publishing Society.
Fiza Baloch | Staff Writer
Graphic: Anh Phan | Design Editor