If you’re wondering why the hallways are smothered in posters, our student union is having an election. Candidates will go to great lengths to get your attention. Last year, this guy just walked around in a Batman suit with a big sign. The year before, one candidate’s strategy included complimenting guys on their dicks, and she won.
If you can look past the bullshit, these elections are worth your time. The Students’ Union is the reason everyone can see a dentist or an optometrist, and they’re the only representatives we have when negotiating with university administration, faculty or governments. The organization is important. We have to make sure the riff raff isn’t in charge.
If you want to learn something about the candidates, you can watch their pitches on NUTV, listen to interviews on CJSW, read our election supplement on page 12 or attend the candidate forums. But before you make any decisions, consider these points.
The MacHall re-development fee is expensive, but it’s worth your consideration
You will be asked to approve a new student fee that would be used to pay for the re-development of MacHall. For full-time students, this would raise their annual education bill by $70. This is not a vote to decide whether or not MacHall will be re-developed — that decision has already been made. The referendum asks students if they’re willing to help pay for it.
If you want the SU to stay in control of MacHall, it would be wise to vote in favour of the fee. Money generated from MacHall allows the SU to maintain a robust budget, unmatched by most student unions in Canada. Without control of the building, the SU would be forced to drastically raise student fees to maintain revenue. And the SU is in negotiations right now over control of the building, so don’t assume it can be taken for granted.
Undergraduates have paid similar fees for re-development projects in the past. These students didn’t reap the rewards of this investment — we did. We should consider the legacy we leave.
Different positions have different portfolios
Many of the candidates have promised to tackle problems that are not under the responsibilities of the position they’re running for. Every job in the SU has its own portfolio. Different jobs bring different responsibilities.
Someone running for vice-president operations and finance should not be thinking about organizing events on campus. That’s the job of the vice-president student life. And the Board of Governors is not the place to make more nutritional information available on campus. That task is better suited for vice-president operations and finance, or the president.
When a candidate makes promises that don’t relate to their jobs, it means one of two things: they don’t know anything about the job they’re running for or they’re trying to fool you.
You can find a brief explanation of the executive positions in our election supplement. If you want to see what SU executives are already working on, their trimester reports are on the SU website.
You should put pressure on candidates; see what they can handle
This is different from student government in high school. The SU has an $18 million budget. Their executives work full time and make over $37,000 a year. The SU has 55 full-time employees, many of whom are committed professionals. And their executives have to lobby and negotiate with provincial cabinet ministers — generally a shrewd bunch. This is serious work.
If a candidate asks for your vote, make them sing for their supper. If they don’t impress you, don’t give them your vote. The SU is too valuable to hand control over to just anyone. So be respectful, but don’t be nice. Try to stump them if you get the chance and avoid voting for your friends.
Don’t base your vote on how sexy the candidate is
Maybe my friends are just goons, but every year, someone says to me, “I’m voting for x. He/she is hot.”
There are clearly some sexy people running for office. But don’t base your vote on that. Do I really have to explain why?
Riley Hill writes a column about student life once a month