For university students, the beginning of the winter semester is usually accompanied by feelings of anticipation and a fresh start. With the holidays behind us and midterm season quickly approaching, students are also looking forward to welcoming the warmer weather and taking some time off to enjoy the long awaited summer break. For many students in Ontario, this time of the school year is also exciting because it involves campaigning and student government elections, an important and unique university experience.
Across many campuses, decorated campaign booths accompanied by hopeful candidates can be found at almost every corner. Student’s news feeds are dominated by election updates and advertisements, and prospective candidates make their rounds to lecture halls, persuading students to vote for them. It’s a busy and lively time for candidates and students as they find themselves engaged in the election process, and prepare for a time of transition. These elections play a significant role in shaping your experience at your university. From electing faculty representatives to voting on new ancillary fees, and even electing official student government executives, each vote cast influences the future of undergraduate education at post-secondary institutions.
Although sometimes student elections may seem overwhelming, it is not entirely necessary to have a complete, all-bearing, and interrelated knowledge of the student government process and structure. Student associations can sometimes be complicated, with various positions and titles, different responsibilities and changing roles, things can feel slightly confusing at times. What you should have a grasp of, however, are the candidate’s platforms and visions for the future of your institution. You should take the time to consider the ways in which their platform may affect your experience at your university. You should take the time to speak to nominees and their teams at their booths around campus and ask important questions about their plans. You should take the time to send out an email to the referenda sponsor that is seeking finances stemming from your student fees in order to accurately understand what organizations your very own money is going toward. Finally, you should take the time to use your voice, which truly does matter on your campus. Regardless of how minuscule it may feel due to the population of your student body, it is critical to exercise your ability to vote and to support those that you believe can truly change our campus life for the better.
It is imperative to take the time to ask important questions and talk to all of the candidates. Whether its on your campus or even during the upcoming provincial election this summer, you should be critically determining the things that matter most to you in your position as an undergraduate student attending an Ontario university. Most importantly, you should take the time to vote.