Student voting engagement requires improvement

With the most recent Wilfrid Laurier Students’ Union elections officially wrapped up, it’s important to assess what needs improvement. While an increase in voter turnout occurred, from 24.2 per cent in 2015 to 26.15 per cent in 2016, there is still a large amount of students that do not have engagement with the political process. This lack of student engagement is problematic when it comes to making decisions about who can lead our school.

The Students’ Union marketing team, board of directors and executive team took valuable steps towards increasing voting engagement.

Campaign posters were well-recognized over campus walls, social media platforms were utilized and aimed towards keeping students alert and constantly updated, while root beer and ice cream was served at the ballot table in the Concourse to lure students in like the sugar-craving vultures we all are. But what else could’ve been done to hear from a larger chunk of the student body?

There is consistently a clear separation from “Laurier Votes” and campus clubs. Wilfrid Laurier University Student Publications seemed to be the only external student club taking part. While this is great for coverage, if the Students’ Union wants to connect with students, they have to be willing to partner with campus groups, department advocates and other student organizations that are not solely there to supply unbiased coverage.

Reaching out early in the application process, through a widespread email just like the one to vote, can also help students feel more a part of the student politics bubble.

Professors, academic advisors and department heads have always taken a step back when it comes to Students’ Union politics, but maybe they should be used to better inform students on the importance of  casting a vote — even on the student level. It’s easy to be apathetic to voting when we don’t see constant change.

But it’s important for students to understand that their vote counts and the people who take on the positions can help make some type of a difference to their student experience.

If that difference is not widely understood, interest will not generate on rates beyond 26 per cent.

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