Students’ Union begins to prep for election season

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Graphic by Alan Li

 

Wilfrid Laurier University’s Students’ Union has begun preparing for its annual elections, set to take place on Jan. 30, 31, and Feb. 1.

The results of the elections will determine who the Students’ Union’s new president and CEO is, as well as the 12 new members of the board of directors. The elections will also determine who will serve as the student representatives on the university’s senate and board of governors.

These positions are slated to be filled by students.

“All undergrad students, paying members of the Students’ Union, are eligible to run,” Muhammad Talha Naeem, one of the board’s current directors, said.

Among those hopeful to occupy the position of president and CEO is Tarique Plummer, current chair of the Students’ Union board of directors and chief governance officer (CGO), who has made clear his intention to run.

“Tarique Plummer is the chair and CGO of the board. And what has happened is, as a chair, CGO, it’s quite unusual for a CGO to run for presidency,” Naeem said.

Due to the fact that various election responsibilities typically befall the chair and CGO, Plummer’s intent to run has caused some controversy

“He came up professional in terms of letting everybody know that this is what he plans to do, and that’s why the board nominated me to take on his responsibilities of being chair and CGO,” Naeem said.

“The main message is to educate students about how they can empower themselves by just giving a vote and deciding whatever they seem to be the most appropriate candidate or their favourite candidate according to their own experience of Laurier life.”

“[Tarique and I] had a clear conversation about [expectations],” Naeem said.

“This is how we expect, in terms of professional mannerisms, and in terms of [Tarique’s] influence on the board and outside of the board, and how we are going to play fairly in terms of outlining all the elections policies, outlining all the conflicts of interest, outlining all the potential risks that are involved.”

“We are going to hold all the candidates equally accountable … during the election process, and everybody will be given a fair and equal chance by making sure that there is no over and above or extra favor given to any candidate at all,” Naeem said.

“And that is well communicated across the board table, across the Students’ Union, across the management team, and across all the candidates who will apply.”

A recurring issue that the Students’ Union has faced with their elections has been poor voter turnout. In the past two years, less than 30 per cent of students eligible to vote cast a ballot.

When asked about what they were doing to improve voter turnout, Naeem detailed several strategies that the Students’ Union will be adopting in their approach.

“We have a whole plethora of new marketing activities, initiatives, consultations and educational sessions that we are planning,” Naeem said.

Some of these strategies include improving training for elections volunteers, emphasizing social media campaigns, promoting the elections in residences, and partnering with faculty to reach out directly to students by speaking in lectures.

“The main message is to educate students about how they can empower themselves by just giving a vote and deciding whatever they seem to be the most appropriate candidate or their favourite candidate according to their own experience of Laurier life,” Naeem said.

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