Voting has closed yet again for the election of Student Senators. I feel that we should be ashamed of the current state of student politics at Redeemer. I am not here to rant about those who hold positions in the Senate, but rather to discuss the shocking lack of political participation that exists in Redeemer University’s student community. A typical election for Student Senate tends to draw in between one hundred and two hundred students, which is approximately 16 percent of the nine hundred students registered. This in itself is shocking. Why do we as a student body not care enough about Student Senate to vote? Additionally, why do so few students run for election?
Student Senate is responsible for representing the student population to the school’s administration. They are involved in budget meetings and advocating on the students’ behalf. Yet, we as students could not be bothered to take thirty seconds to vote. This should be embarrassing to us. Political apathy is not as cool as we imagine it to be. As students, we should not feel proud of ourselves for skipping the vote. Regardless of whether it is on the federal, provincial, local, or university level, your vote is important. The student speeches and biographies that are released are useful avenues to learning more about your student senate candidates and finding out why they are fit to represent our student interests. Our Student Senate should not be reduced to a party planning committee; rather, it should be a thriving institution. Currently, our top Senate debate is whether or not to implement a mandatory yearbook charge.
The state of our student politics needs to go beyond simply electing candidates by a yes or no ballot. People can mindlessly vote yes on the ballot simply because they feel there is no other option. How much more exciting it would be if we engaged and challenged a wide variety of candidates on policy and platform prior to the vote. If you are student who dislikes how student government exists in its current capacity, or feel you have ideas that can make a difference, then you should run for a position. If you neither voted for the candidates nor became a candidate yourself then you have no right to complain about the affairs of student government since you have not participated in it. I am not here to say that those currently in Senate are incapable of action and need to be removed. I am here to say that if you have ideas or goals that would be important to student affairs, then you should run for a position. The RUC Senate election reflects an important part of the political process that we call democracy. For RUC students, standing for election to the Senate is an opportunity that is accessible to us in ways that it is not to thousands of other students at other institutions with layers and layers of bureaucracy.
The political climate that exists now at this school should be considered unacceptable. Something needs to change. Change can start with the voting process. Take interest in it. These candidates want to work to represent you to the school’s administration; don’t you want a part in the process of selecting those people? Not only do they represent us as students, but they also manage a significant amount of money. Thousands of dollars from student tuition goes through student senate. If you are not motivated to participate because you value the democratic process, then at least take interest in what happens to the money you pay that goes to Senate.
Senate reform is another topic for debate, and is not the goal for this article. The point of this article is to encourage people to vote. We have not earned the right to talk about changing the way senate operates unless we are actively participating at the base level of involvement: voting. Voting is not a responsibility to be taken lightly; it is a privilege to be a part of the representative process that must be undertaken by the students here. You can effect change with just thirty seconds of effort.