This week, I’m going to write about the UTSU elections, my thoughts on the controversy that has ensued (see cover article), and the implications, as I see them, for students. I should also add that no, I am not happy about writing this. I would much rather congratulate the members of SAP for their show last week, or urge students to take part in one of the many environmental initiatives happening on our campus this month. I would also rather work on one of my final papers due this week (how about an extension, professor Miller?), but instead I find myself dragged into the tide of shit that has cropped up over recent allegations of fraud concerning the CRO in UTSU’s elections.
Without commenting on the nature of the situation, I would like to point out to all those involved that, regardless of the circumstances under which the elections took place, the message that students across both of our campuses are receiving is that this is what life is like at the student union. Which may very well be true, but the discussion only serves to shut the union off from normal, non-politically-savvy students.
The union and the students in the sphere of student politics should be more concerned by the fact that only around 10% of students actually took to the polls. Can you imagine if that happened in, say, a provincial election? People would be furious. Not only would it call into doubt the results of the election, but it would chip away at the legitimacy of the organization in question. How can a group claim to represent all students when only a small minority had a say?
I think that we should look at the election turnout not so much as a natural process, but rather as a symptom of the mass politicization of the union process. While our student government may have good intentions, especially with regards to inclusivity, the excessiveness of their argumentation across all fronts only serves to turn students off.
There needs to be a dramatic rethinking of the way we as students are represented and what role we see our union playing in the future, otherwise I can’t see things getting any better.
Michael Di Leo