Get Off Your Ass And Vote

Photo by Leo Lewin

Photo by Leo Lewin

Every student reading this has likely paid a gargantuan amount of money to Wilfrid Laurier University and a smaller, but still sizeable, sum to the Wilfrid Laurier University Students’ Union.

For this money we are supposed to receive an education, preparation for the job market, social opportunities and a holistic student experience. I don’t know about you, but I often feel like I’m not getting my money’s worth.

As an arts student, I don’t get to vote for the president of the Council for the Intellectual and Cultural Development of the Arts — the arts faculty student association that pales in comparison to its business counterpart the School of Business and Economics Student Society — so I don’t get a say in how the large sums of money that CICDA handles is spent.

When I have problems with the system, I have no recourse available to me to try and fix it from within.

That isn’t the case with the Students’ Union.

The Union simply has a large group of volunteers and organizers who are heavily invested in the system. The students invested in the Union — those who use its services and volunteer for or organize its programs — are getting out of it what they put into it.

A little over 25 per cent of undergrad students at Laurier voted in last year’s election, which is a little over 4,000 people. Those people are already invested in this system and want to see it become better.

Even with a lower turnout of people running for the board of directors this year there is interest from that 30 per cent in keeping the system going and making it better.

I’m talking to the other 70 per cent of you: the 70 per cent that don’t vote, that don’t access the Union’s programs and services. If you don’t vote you don’t get to complain about the clique of WLUSU.

You don’t get to complain about Orientation Week or Winter Carnival. You don’t get to complain if you think STARR is a bad system or if the lottery selection of ice breakers is unfair. You don’t get to complain about your money being spent where you don’t want it to be spent. You don’t get to complain about not understanding what the union does or how the board functions.

This isn’t the professional politics where the system has no accountability and where it seems that everyone lies just to get to power. There are day-to-day operations that you have an effect on.

You can get a meeting with anyone who works for the Union and have a real conversation about what’s going on. If a service isn’t meeting your needs, there is someone who gets paid to try and find a solution.

You can join the service or apply for executive or coordinator positions and make the change yourself. You have power in this system.

It’s the same for Student Publications. If you don’t like The Cord or Radio Laurier or Keystone or Blueprint, you can become a member of the board or even the president if you and your ideas have the support. You can come to the WLUSP annual general meeting and vote for people that will do the things you want to see happen. You can also join WLUSP as a volunteer and create the content that you want to see. You have power in this system.

It’s often said that municipal politics is where change really happens, where the decisions that really affect ordinary people take place.

Yet municipal elections consistently have low voter turnouts just like the Union and WLUSP.

I wrote a few weeks ago that the university administration should seek to be courageous and not just accept the status quo.

I want to extend that challenge to every student at Laurier. This might be the one chance you have to really change systems that affect your day-to-day life, so get off your ass and vote.

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