The 2019 RSU elections are officially underway.
Students can make their selections for executive, board of director, graduate and international representative positions until Thursday at 4 p.m.
The voting period for this election opened Tuesday morning at 9 a.m. If we have the math correct, that’s 55 hours of voting time. Yet somehow, every year, students come out after those 55 hours and say they “didn’t have time” to vote. Others are perhaps more honest with their reasoning, saying they “couldn’t be bothered” or “didn’t care” to vote.
There’s another common reasoning – it’s “just” student politics.
This is an open letter to all of these people.
What are you doing?
Regardless of your level of involvement, each time an election or referendum comes up you should at least be paying attention.
The reality is student politics affect our day-to-day lives as university students.
The RSU, for one, supports campus life through events and services like course union and club funding, awards and grants, equity centres and resources like the RSU Sexual Assault Survivor Support Line and student discounts.
On top of that, an integral part of their purpose is to represent the student body. In recent years, we’ve seen where that’s gotten us. See the various scandals that have made media headlines, including 6 Fest, alleged financial misconduct from the 2018-19 executive and, of course, the NotMyRSU hashtag.
These days, student politicians such as those running in the RSU elections are under increased scrutiny. You can’t go on the Ryerson Facebook groups during the campaign period without seeing something damning about a candidate.
Regardless of how much buzz there is, or how many students rush to wherever the free food of the day is, the numbers show that people aren’t engaging in the right way.
This problem isn’t limited to the RSU and its undertakings. Another example involved a Ryerson journalism student who ran to be a student representative on Ryerson’s senate last year.
It’s a significant role as the senate is the academic decision-making body for the entire university. Comprised of over 60 members including students, staff and faculty, the senate looks at things such as the content of programs and courses, minor requirements, standards for admission into Ryerson and qualifications for obtaining degrees, diplomas and certificates.
Despite its importance, almost everyone she spoke to while campaigning had no idea what it was. In turn, voter turnout was close to abysmal.
There are a few potential issues to unpack here – education and accessibility are among them. But if it’s within your capacity to vote, there is truly no valid excuse not to.
Take a few minutes to read the candidate bios. Check the Ryerson Facebook groups. Talk to candidates in person about their platforms. Educate yourself so you can make an informed decision and we can hopefully avoid another year of scandals and regret.
We want to know how our student representatives are representing us. You should too.
If you’re reading this before March 14 at 4 p.m., there’s still time to head to a polling station or your my.ryerson.ca account and complete your ballot for the RSU elections.
If you can’t be bothered to take the few moments needed to vote, you can keep your opinion about the result to yourself.