Student government is a very important part of life here at UPEI. The Student Union plays a role in planning events throughout the year, representing students and many more responsibilities.
Our student union takes hundreds of dollars from each student in fees, provides us with health and dental insurance, and advocates to the levels of government. UPEISU’s revenue is over $900,000 a year, but you’d never know based on student engagement with the SU.
UPEI student government has a serious problem with student involvement; not enough candidates run in elections and barely any students are voting in the SU elections.
In last year’s executive election all of the candidates were uncontested. The SU’s most important positions had no competition. If we cannot manage to have a real meaningful election for those positions how can we expect better for any of the other positions.
Maybe it was because there was one candidate for each position, but voter turnout in executive elections last year was only 14.9%, hardly enough to accurately judge student opinion.
We are lucky that the current executives are doing their jobs well, but if our executives continue to run unopposed we will likely not remain this fortunate..
It’s not only the executive that is lacking in candidates, it’s also student council.
In this fall’s student council election five positions ran unopposed but there were four positions that did not even have a candidate. Those positions now have to be filled by appointment.
Students are busy with school and work, so it is completely understandable that the student council is not a good fit for most students, but this complete disinterest from the student body in certain positions should be concerning to the current council.
Voting (or lack thereof) is another significant problem with SU elections. Compared to the overall student body, the number of students taking the time to vote is almost insignificant.
According to The Cadre’s estimate, only around 519 people casted their vote in the Fall 2019 Council election, compared to 804 last year (18.85%). It seems like the students have made their decision: they just don’t care.
In past years voting has been simplified in hopes of encouraging students to vote with no success. No matter how easy voting has been made, most students still cannot be bothered to vote.
Low voter turnout is common across Canada for student elections, but UPEISU should be able to leverage our smaller student body to better engage the voters.
If voter turnout continues to run depressingly low, and the same positions year after year continue to have no candidates, eventually UPEISU may need to consider some extreme reform.