The saying goes when you point a finger at someone there are three pointing right back at you. For Brock University students that’s the realization that needs to set in. There’s no one else to blame for the failed U-Pass referendum than ourselves.
The referendum was a part of Brock University Students’ Union’s 2017-18 executive elections and the results were announced on February 16. A low 32.3 per cent of students voted, with 51 per cent voting ‘no’ on the U-Pass referendum.
For people who are still unaware such referendum vote happened: basically students were asked a yes or no question of if they were okay with the U-Pass cost going up from the current $202 fee to $240 — which would ultimately keep the current transit situation for students running.
When BUSU announced the results on their Facebook and Twitter pages, it angered some of the student body. People quickly blamed BUSU for failing to educate students on such a vote, or even failing to make students aware such a vote was even happening.
Unfortunately, the students blaming BUSU need to take a look in the mirror — and I should mention I don’t work for BUSU and The Brock Press is an independent student-run newspaper.
There was a handful of students who did understand what the referendum meant, but those same students were baffled how their peers failed to understand what such a vote meant.
As explained in my article a couple weeks ago, students were made aware of such a vote through many different streams: The student body was sent six emails via their BrockU account over the course of three days, there was two weeks of campaigning on campus and on social media, three debates were held and live streamed by BrockTV, and there was two weeks of coverage in The Brock Press.
Referendums are common every year, in fact there are times referendums are held every semester. This year in first semester BrockTV had their referendum, which passed allowing them to continue to receive their funding. This semester not only did the U-Pass referendum fail, but so did the Student Justice Centre referendum.
Each referendum, however, is similar in that students are asked if they are for or against it — your ballot will ask you ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Some students on BUSU’s Facebook page wondered why their ballot didn’t have more of an explanation on what the referendum was about.
Let me explain it like this: When you vote in any election, and let’s use the Canadian Federal elections as an example, you are given candidate names and the party they’re affiliated with – you then simply leave an ‘x’ beside the name of the person you’d like to vote for.
The BUSU executive and referendum vote is similar. Just like any other election, citizens or in this case students, are expected to get educated on their own prior to the voting period.
Students were given three days to vote as well — which was enough time to look up what the U-Pass referendum meant if you hadn’t heard about it during the campaign period.
This issue is a simple wakeup call to Brock University students. It brings to light how uneducated the student body is. Students aren’t uneducated because BUSU or other administration around campus have failed to educate them, but because students themselves are not taking the active initiative to get educated.
I’m like everyone else and think the campaign period for the elections is annoying. We all try to avoid the Academic South hallway as it is crowded and can become a bit much with every candidate trying to get your attention. That being said, students should still take out 20 minutes of their time to give each candidate two minutes during the campaign period — even if you don’t want to speak to the candidates, at least take a look at their boards that explains their platform.
If more students did that this year, more students would have noticed that their was a booth right in the middle that had a board explaining the U-Pass referendum — only one of few ways students could’ve learned about the referendum.
It’s great that the voter turnout is going up, in fact this year saw a record 32.3 per cent of students vote. But a high voter turnout is only effective if students are making an educated vote.
BUSU is still collectively discussing the steps to take after the referendum failed, and changes won’t be made to transit for another couple years. You can read more about it on Page 5.
In the end, with the amount of people upset with this referendum it is time we as a student body became much more active within our school community. The excuse of being busy with school, work and still trying to balance a social life only goes so far. Knowing what is going on at Brock and around our community is our role and as students we must make sure our voice is an educated one.