Voting will take place this week at UTM. Not many students tend to bother with elections—in a campus that counts around 11,000 students, only 600 voted last year, when one ticket ran, and around 2,500 the year before, when two tickets ran. This year we have, once again, two tickets, which may mean a larger turnout. Moreover, both tickets are formed of UTMSU executives—the first in a quite a few years.
Add our coverage of controversial UTMSU-related events, and it’s tempting to believe that many more students will cast their ballot this year.
I’m not so optimistic, partly because for the longest time, I was one of those students who didn’t care much about campus politics. Like many others, I didn’t think it mattered who ran things at UTMSU—in fact, I wasn’t even sure what the UTMSU was or what it did.
The Medium taught me that it does matter who runs the UTMSU. The Student Union, after all, has a large budget (a million dollars last year), 60% of which goes for wages. The Student Union has grown considerably in the last few years, controlling the Student Centre and taking over the part-time students association and eliminating UTSU at UTM. Current UTMSU executives claim to represent us, and to an extent they do, whether we like or not—when a Union-organized rally swarms the streets of downtown Toronto, it’s UTM students that spectators see. Then they lump us together in their minds despite our different backgrounds and political opinions.
More importantly, whatever the Union decides to do, it does so with our money. This is not unlike the government, which never generates money—it merely redistributes what it taxes from of us. Yet many forget this fact, thinking a government—or union—generous when it does something that benefits us, and tight-fisted when it doesn’t.
We have little control over how much of our money is taken away and distributed back to us, but we do have more of a say in how this money is distributed back to us. In UTMSU’s case, do we want our hard-earned money to represent us as if we are one voice, or do we want our voice to renew our Student Union?
We’ve done our part. We’ve covered the Union and the election process as best we could. At the request of a reader, we whipped together a brief description of what each UTMSU executive does. Lastly, we encourage you to attend today’s all candidates’ debate in the Blind Duck at 2 p.m., where both Vickita Bhatt and Henry Ssali will answer your questions.
Whatever happens, whether you cast a ballot or not, you have a say in this. Why not say it out loud?