HSF must attend to continuous low voter turnout

by | Mar 13, 2015 | Editorial

With another Humber Students’ Federation election cycle to be in the books by this evening, it’s again clear that Humber students don’t care enough to vote despite the numerous issues the student body has with the day-to-day life at Humber.

Et Cetera has covered campus issues including parking, student fees, lack of space, WiFi reception and Blackboard repeatedly over the years, and there is never a shortage of students willing to speak out about the recurring problems. Despite this, the voter turnout to elect student representatives who consistently express a desire to work towards changes in these areas is always poor.

Last year’s election saw less than 20 per cent of students utilize their right to vote, and it was even worse during the by-election in the fall where the turnout was less than eight per cent.

This for a student government that control just under $10-million in student fees. Yes, you read that number correctly. It seems few Humber students realize how much clout HSF wields.

The low voting turnout statistics might not seem surprising considering how often it’s reported that those within the post-secondary age demographic are consistently the lowest in terms of voter turnout, yet during the last federal election in 2011 nearly 40 per cent of 18 to 24 year olds voted.

This could be because many students are here solely to get their certificate or diploma as fast as possible in order to start their careers and working lives. We attend our one-to-four year programs and never set foot on campus again in most cases. Why bother voting when Humber is such a short moment in our lives?

Not only this, but Humber is a commuter school. Many students spend hours traveling to and from campus and since so few students live on campus, there’s surely a sense of disconnect.

As Humber news outlets have reported in the past, many students do admit they simply don’t care about voting. But others say they aren’t provided with enough information in order to feel informed enough to vote.

Along with candidates’ meetings and pre-election events around campus, there is a lot of information posted on the HSF website, but it means little if the level of student engagement isn’t there.

The minutes of HSF meetings throughout the year are posted, and if anyone really wants to know how their student fees are being spent they can find it, but clearly HSF can’t expect a majority of the student population to inform themselves.

Every year the presidential candidates engage students at a forum where they answer questions about who they are and what they want to accomplish if elected, but there is sometimes a disconnect between what they want for students and what they have the power to achieve.

If HSF wants students to have more interest in the student government, maybe the best first step would be to outline what exactly HSF does. Inform people what they have the power to do for the people they serve because right now a small percentage of the total student population chooses who gets to influence the decisions being made for the coming year and then those elected are free to go about their business while most students pay little attention to them.