By: The Cadre Editorial Board
When there are only three students willing to compete in an election to lead the SU, there are fewer ideas and conversations taking place around the policies and overall direction of the organization. (Dale Crosby-Close/Adobe Stock)
On January 29th and 30th, students will login to UPEI’s Simply Voting platform and elect three new executives to lead the SU on issues ranging from student dedicated affordable housing and tuition regulation to what kinds of events are held on campus.
This year, instead of making an informed decision based on which candidates best reflect individual needs and values, students will see one name next to each position with the option of voting yes or no for that candidate.
That’s because all three candidates are running uncontested within their electorate.
The Cadre has heard many students remark that uncontested elections make for a dull election season, but the issue runs much deeper than holding a docile “debate” night.
The challenges that face the Student Union in the years ahead are complex and austere. With rising tensions between Canada and China that could result in a diplomatic fallout similar to what led 49 Saudi Arabian students studying at UPEI to have to leave Canada and a Doug Ford government that recently called into question the future of student unions across the country, there is more on the table for the SU than ever before.
Sure, the UPEISU may not be a forerunner in terms of international influence or national advocacy, but by far it is the closest thing UPEI students have towards lobbying to the government and arousing change.
And when there are only three students willing to compete in an election to lead the organization, there are fewer ideas given and fewer conversations happening around the policies and overall direction of the SU.
Last night, presidential candidate Emma Drake speculated as to why students aren’t stepping up to participate in student governance. Beyond improving communication efforts and encouraging students to get involved, Drake said that it is up to students to decide whether or not they want to get involved and take on the commitment.
She is right.
As the issues facing the SU become more complex, there is a greater need for engaged citizens participating in an active democracy and contributing diverse ideas and opinions.
Uncontested elections stifle a healthy debate around the issues that matter.
Don’t wait for someone to convince you to get involved in student governance, and don’t shy away from it because you’re worried you will be criticized. The problems ahead aren’t going away, and students need to start showing up and saying they care.