OPINION: Student government merits your vote

by | Mar 17, 2017 | Headlines, Opinion

By Chris Besik

Participation in a majority of campus events is lacking, and the annual Ignite student government election of officials receives a very weak voter turnout.

The campus needs to better explain that the job of student president is serious and has serious responsibilities. When people think of school politics, chances are they don’t consider the finance and power that school government actually has. They only think of some unknown school entity that seems to have no effect on their education, and therefore they pay very little attention to what goes on in the school political realm.

Students generally don’t care about school politics, they have a lot of other things on their mind that take up their time and energy. They won’t participate in events like this week’s Ignite election if they don’t realize how much these elections can affect their education and learning environment.

North campus struggles with actually creating a community environment, mainly because people are so quick to leave once they fulfill their educational obligations. People at Humber generally seldom participate in extracurricular activities or concern themselves with events on campus.

The apathy is inappropriate, especially in considering elections for a body that controls over $10-million of student tuition money. The Ignite president receives a $40,000 salary, a lot of money for a job that only a handful of people turn out for.

Humber College North campus is a commuter college, the school’s population is predominantly made up of people who travel from other cities.

This may explain why we have such a low turnout in campus events, like our the current election.

It’s true that we have seen election campaign signs thrown up around the school, certain candidates can be spotted in Humber hallways and Ignite workers can be found promoting voting around campus. These are just a few things student government has done to inspire more reaction from the student population.

A few more possible ideas could be to strategically position Ignite employees at the exits and entrances of the main buildings on campus, such as the LRC, not to confront people but promote voting on a serious level.

The school could also provide an added incentive to vote, maybe a voucher for a free slice of pizza or snack. Considering how much money is associated with Ignite, they can spare a few hundred dollars in an effort to promote the election, considering half the campus events go virtually unattended or receive a very small turnout.

It should be mandatory for presidential candidates to make a number of public appearances, besides the couple of all-candidates meetings, and speak with students about issues they have on campus. With such a low voter turnout, how can we make sure a candidate who convinces more of their friends to vote for them doesn’t win on that basis? We need to make sure this does not turn into a popularity contest. We need to consider the best interests of the school and treat this campaign and election period with respect, dignity, give it relevance and make sure people understand how much it matters.

Promote the financial obligations of student government and push for transparency so people truly know what student government is responsible for.

Ignite power is alive and well and should always reflect our best interests. They control much of the potential progress for our school, so it is only right that we dedicate a genuine effort to understanding who it is we are electing.