This month, the Ontario Undergraduate Student Alliance launched Pledge to Vote — a campaign to encourage university students to cast their ballots in the upcoming Ontario provincial election.
Students can make their pledge by registering their email on OUSA’s website. OUSA will send students follow-up emails with detailed information about how to register to vote before Ontario's election day on June 7, in addition to information about polling locations and the voting process.
OUSA also asks students to focus on four main issues that affect post-secondary education: mental health, free textbooks, the cost of education and experiential learning.
Landon Tulk, University Students' Council vice-president and OUSA's vice-president finance, said the campaign targets the eight universities that comprise OUSA, including Western University.
“I find that many students, particularly those that aren’t Ontario residents, aren’t thinking about the provincial election," Tulk said. "It’s very important Canadian students that are eligible to vote here in Ontario are voting in the upcoming provincial election."
As part of the campaign, the USC has been promoting Pledge to Vote with a social media campaign using the hashtag #StudentsVote. During the week of March 19, the USC will be on the ground promoting Pledge to Vote around campus by getting students to sign up with their emails in person.
“This is our time to get vocal and loud right before the election,” Tulk said. “The hope is that 100 per cent of the students that are pledging to vote will actually go out and vote.... OUSA is giving students a good launchpad to look at what issues will directly affect them. I think there is a lot on the line for Western students."
During the 2015 federal election, there was a spike in youth turnout in Canada. During the election campaign period, the USC ran a campaign to promote students to vote on campus. Sophie Helpard, OUSA executive director and former USC president, said OUSA is trying to recreate that level of engagement with Pledge to Vote.
“Youth turnout across the province for provincial elections is lower than the average," Helpard said. "We know that students are not apathetic, so we want to help make it easier for students to connect with their vote in June."