What is the 20 per cent? 20 per cent is the rough average of students who vote in student elections at Western every year. It is also the name of the Gazette's 2017 elections blog.
There's one message that remains consistent between last year and this year’s USC contenders: the promise to engage more students. But I don't think this is something the slates should bother focusing on; students are disengaged, and this won't change anytime soon.
Only 24 per cent of students voted for a presidential slate last election and only 19.5 per cent voted the year before that. There’s clearly voter apathy at Western, but unlike our candidates, I don’t view it as a prevalent issue.
At the end of the day, many students may simply think — and fairly so — that the USC’s decisions won’t affect them greatly. And they’re probably right.
At last week’s debate all three slates noted students were disengaged with the USC and that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.
In the slates' introductory interview with The Gazette, Team Tobi cited low voter turnout as a significant issue and a central objective of theirs to improve student engagement with the USC. Team Tobi promises to make the USC more accessible by taking on initiatives like hosting town halls and having their own form of post-USC meetings coverage.
Team DiBrina said they will actively put in an effort to understand why students are disengaged and “implement a strategy to build those relationships.”
Similarly, Team Jan/Mohammad said students feel the USC doesn’t listen to their voices and this is why they are disconnected from the organization.
From my perspective, none of the approaches any of these slates are taking will greatly affect student disengagement with the USC. Many students just don’t care about the services the USC provides and don’t believe their lives will be significantly affected by the USC’s decisions.
Youth and the rest of the public care about federal and provincial elections far more as they view the impact of these elections as severely important to their lives. For example, 56 per cent of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 years old voted in the last federal election. Clearly more people are going to vote in these elections as the winners can drastically affect their lives with power over areas such as healthcare and post-secondary education funding.
Unlike federal and provincial elections, regardless of who the next USC executive is, no one’s life will be greatly affected.
Will there be hash browns or a breakfast buffet at The Wave next year? Will The Wave be shut down altogether? Frankly, we’ll all survive whatever the outcome is. Slates can talk about things like removing parental income from OSAP, but it’s ridiculous to think they’ll have real power over that.
Moreover, in federal and provincial elections the candidates typically have very contrasting viewpoints on some significant issues which motivates people to vote. For example, in the last provincial election the 30 per cent-off tuition rebate would have been scrapped under Tim Hudak.
Candidates in USC elections aren’t all that different. All the USC slates have promised to improve mental health resources, improve diversity on campus and advocate for items like “3 in 23.” They may disagree on details, but the overall points are the same. The likelihood of each candidate achieving their goals is the same.
I know that regardless of who wins this election, I’ll sleep happy. I won’t be fearful that my health will be harmed — like many Americans are with the Obamacare cuts.
If you’re a student like myself who can put the time and effort in to understand the slates specific platform points then please do so and please vote. But if you’re busy with exams or extracurriculars then don’t sweat it, cause you won't be affected by it all that much.