Brantford’s role during the Students’ Union election

Jess Dik, File Photo

During this election season at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo and Brantford students will be exposed to various events and campaign initiatives in order to become informed about this year’s candidates.

Each year, there is evidence of fewer candidates from Laurier’s Brantford campus than from the Waterloo campus.

This year, only three out of 15 Board of Director candidates are from Brantford, with the only presidential candidate being from Waterloo.

Nick DeSumma, chair of the board of directors, explained that Branford’s candidate participation may be influenced by the programs that are offered at the Brantford campus.

“In Waterloo, you see a lot of the political science programs, the communications programs and business programs that relate well with the Board of Director positions.”

“In Brantford, you have more criminology and social sciences. With those, it’s harder to find that niche and interest in these positions,” DeSumma said.

While this may be one reason, he also explained that student population has a big effect.

There’s approximately four times the amount of students on the Waterloo campus than there are on the Brantford campus.

Seeing that Tyler was successful last year, being a Brantford student, I think that will definitely open some doors.

– Nick Desumma, chair of the board of directors

Tyler Van Herzele, president and CEO of Students’ Union, is the first Brantford student to become Students’ Union president.

While Van Herzele stated that he doesn’t think his position as president has swayed more Brantford students to consider running for positions, he does hope that it will open up the idea.

Despite calling the smaller campus home, Van Herzele believes Brantford students still have the full ability to participate.

“I do believe I have a role to play in encouraging students to seek their full potential. What we will see is from having myself in this position, the impossibility of a Brantford student winning this election has been removed,” Van Herzele said.

“I do think it’s giving maybe some more hope to those who are looking forward at maybe running in two or three years. They might think it’s something possible to start focusing on what you need to do to make that a reality.”

DeSumma added that he feels strongly that Laurier could see another Brantford presidential candidate within the next couple of years.

“Seeing that Tyler was successful last year, being a Brantford student, I think that will definitely open some doors to other candidates or other future students,” he said.

“Because there’s that knowledge that this is possible and can work and we saw that happen and it’s amazing to see that.”

In regards to number of students who vote during election season, numbers at both campuses are low.

Waterloo’s voter turn-out last year only went as high as 26 per cent and while Brantford’s student voting percentage is typically higher than Waterloo’s, it has been decreasing in the past few years.

Van Herzele explained that Brantford’s student voting percentage was likely higher than Waterloo’s as there are less students in Brantford and, therefore, easier to get the word out.

“Those who can identify with elections will take part. And those who have a harder time identifying with the process, don’t,” he said.

“As for the decline over time, we’re seeing that across the board everywhere, which is really unfortunate. Especially when these elections result in people who represent all 100 per cent of undergraduate students whether or not they voted.”

This year, there’s a fairly equal balance of election events that are happening at each campus, which has not always been in the case in past years.

Transportation between campuses is being provided to encourage participation at all events.

“I encourage students to get informed, ask the hard questions, vote yes or no for president as there only is one candidate,” Van Herzele said. “Be informed and make that decision. It matters more to do that than to just ignore it.”

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