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Poor student voter turnout should be an incentive, not an excuse

People like to bitch about how our generation just doesn’t care.

It seems the University of New Brunswick Student Union is not immune to this damaging way of thinking.

Voter turnout for the UNBSU fall by-election was half what it was last year.

Over four days, undergraduate students were given the opportunity to vote for a forestry and environmental management representative, an engineering representative, an international representative and a LGBTQ representative on the UNBSU council.

Only 279 students took that opportunity. Last year, that number was 553.

In last week’s editorial, the Union was criticized for their decision to largely strip campus walls of posters to promote their events. UNBSU president Greg Bailey indicated the Union would be focusing their outreach efforts through social media, because posters were “lazy” – lazier than spending 45 seconds creating a Facebook event and mass-inviting everyone on your friends list, presumably.

In a quick glance through the Union’s various social media channels, the by-election was promoted once on each platform. Once. Furthermore, the results were not made public on any of these platforms at least by press-time – a full 48 hours after they came out.

It should be noted that in the same interview with Bailey in last week’s Brunswickan, he suggested the new UNBSU app was not a priority; made evident last week by the fact that the app was not made compatible for student voting in time for the by-election. It should also be noted that the Brunswickan reached out to Bailey for a comment on the story in this week’s edition and did not receive a reply.

Here’s the thing. Yes; our generation probably doesn’t care as much about stuff – especially political stuff – as it should. But as I stated in last week’s editorial, this is not an excuse to simply throw in the towel. In fact, it is the complete opposite.

Brittany Hannah, the chief returning officer for the UNBSU, is quoted in the story in this week’s Brunswickan saying that “I think in general there’s just low student engagement, especially when it comes to voting.” Hannah goes on to state that “All of the positions have been filled on council and that is what counts.”

This is exactly the kind of flawed perspective that will keep students from getting engaged.

The UNBSU is meant to be comprised of student leaders; in other words, students who give a shit. It is their responsibility to view poor student engagement as an incentive, not a death sentence.

All of this leaves us with one final question: UNBSU, if you don’t give a shit, why should the students you represent?

3 Comments

  1. Jordan Thompson Reply

    Every year the SU has a by-election and every year the Bruns runs an editorial about low turnout. 

    The reality is by-elections are never have a high turnout when there is no real issues. See the bus pass referendum a couple of years ago where the by-election turn out was 21%. The same goes to the government by-elections.

    The fact is that council is full this year (for the first time in years). This is good news. Note also that there were less positions available this year than last. This probably explains less people voting, there’s less to vote for. 

    And way to cast this years SU as not giving a shit. They do. There’s a bunch of stuff on their plate at this moment, by-elections are traditionally do not have high turnout, and there is a duty on those running in the by-election to pump it up and convince their peers to vote. The SU has pushed in the past and students responded by low turnout. So why waste time on getting unmotivated students out when there are other things to do?

  2. Zedsteau Reply

    “Our generation” cares plenty about “political stuff” 
    The fact that you could equate the student union bi election to something that actually matters, like a provincial election, is astonishing. 
    Who gives a toss about the Student Union… They’re a useless waste of my money.

  3. MaGlasse Reply

    The SU is a weak and toothless organization, put in place by administration so students think they can’t get screwed. Why bother voting for something that will not result in any change whatsoever? If there were elections for things that actually affected us then maybe there wouldn’t be such a poor turnout. Everybody knows it doesn’t matter anyway, admin’s still going to do what they want and they still have everybody’s tuition money, spend your time and energy more wisely than participating in the perpetuation of the illusion of democracy.

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