The Erindale College Council (ECC) held their elections two weeks ago. With 50 seats available, it was disappointing to see only about 60 students run. It goes to know that apathy is prevailing on campus.
Students are just not interested.
The ECC is the highest decision-making body at UTM. As a former ECC member, I was amazed by the sheer amount of information I learned about this campus as I sat in on those meetings last year. It was a good experience talking to the different people on the council who had a variety of refreshing perspectives on issues that affect the student body.
Elections are supposed to be about issues, but between apathetic students and UTMSU’s traditional “us versus them” mentality, there were no issues to be discussed anywhere during the election period. As witnessed in a recent Commission meeting, UTMSU still hails the reduction in the parking fees achieved at the ECC all those years ago as a milestone in student solidarity. UTMSU has consistently painted the ECC as being anti-student. Every year, UTMSU tries to get their people to run for the ECC by saying that electing “like-minded inviduals” would better allow students to vote against proposed fee increases.
But UTMSU fails to disclose that ECC already puts in a lot of effort to ensure that student fees are not raised exorbitantly. Nowhere does UTMSU mention mention that the ECC forms committees of dedicated and knowledgeable individuals who go out of their way to see that students bear as few fee increases as possible. For example, last year the Residence Council Committee took student input into consideration by having students sit on the committee and in the meetings. The projected numbers agreed upon by these committees are a result of extensive calculations and an assessment of viable alternatives. It’s not random numbers thrown together five minutes before the meetings.
I am not propagating complete and blind faith into the workings of the ECC or its committees. No democratic process is ever complete without asking questions, and the ECC is the perfect forum for students to do so. Councillors should think of themselves not as the opposition but as the coalition.
As student representatives, my fellow councillors for 2010-2011 should come to the first meeting—not with pre-planted ideas of reducing fees or of voting against any motion that has the word “increase” in it, but with sincere questions and open minds. We should not be guided by forced personal views, our own or someone else’s, but let good discussion shape our opinion. We should work together with the other councillors to better serve student needs. We should assume an active role in the discussion process on the ECC and attend meetings regularly to keep up with the current affairs at UTM. We should talk to everyone and get their thoughts on issues that affect them, and more importantly talk to those that have a different opinion on things than we do.
We represent 10,000 apathetic students. With the right discussion and level of involvement, we can give people good reasons to care.