As a first year student, the USC elections were, at first, completely foreign to me. The only part of the process I truly understood was that a new president of the University Students’ Council would be elected along with councillors representing various faculties. I thought to myself, “Maybe this will just be like high school. All the candidates will put up a few posters and take one evening to make speeches, then everyone will vote.” Simple as that.
Over the course of the past few weeks, I have come to understand that the USC elections aren’t like voting for high school student councils. The role of president comes with many important duties that need to be fulfilled on a daily basis. Being USC president is no small feat – the USC itself is a corporation that is responsible for handling a significant amount of money – our money.
From reading several Western Gazette articles about the upcoming elections, I’ve also learned that voter turnout has traditionally been quite low. To be completely honest, I wasn’t exactly surprised. Many students believe that in the grand scheme of things, the USC doesn’t really have much power to make decisions – there are many checks and balances that limit their authority.
Even if the USC isn’t as influential as people make it out to be, it still represents the student body. Councillors and cabinet members are students themselves; they understand our situation and can advocate on our behalf. As Western students, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are electing candidates who will listen to concerns and find solutions to improve everyone’s university experience.
After about a week of walking past presidential slates campaigning in the UCC atrium and talking to fellow peers running for councillor positions, I’m starting to understand how serious this process is for the USC. The presidential debates and election-related articles published by the Gazette are for our benefit – they help us to decide who to elect based on the issues that are being addressed by candidates.
As Western students, it’s our responsibility to ensure that we are well-represented by the USC. In the coming days, take some time to research different candidates and their platforms. Go to the UCC and speak with the presidential slates about their ideas to improve the Western student experience. From February 8-9, take a few minutes out of your day to vote – it will be well worth it.