It may be too early to have this conversation, but we, The Brock Press, have put ourselves in this position.
Three publications into the new academic year, and the Press has published two articles on the failed U-Pass referendum from last year. Looking at just our Facebook page statistics, those two articles have reached a combined 19,324 people, has 109 comments and 81 shares.
The failed referendum last year and into this year has created a stir among the student body, garnering more student interest than any recent referendum. In most cases students are complaining about the results, the lack of information they were given ahead of the voting period and about the student-election process.
The next student election isn’t until this coming October, and right now it’s unclear if there will be a second referendum vote for the U-Pass — in other words, a second chance for students to get it right.
The amount of complaining or whining from students is getting tiring. To be clear, you can’t complain about being ill-informed, if you didn’t vote. You also can’t be upset about the results, if you didn’t vote.
Brock University students did reach a record-breaking voter turnout in last February’s election with an increasingly high 32.3 per cent of the student-body voting.
Yes, I’m being sarcastic. The voter turnout, although a record high, is a pathetic low number. The percentage compares pretty well with provincial and federal elections for the university age group, and Brock’s numbers aren’t far off from other universities either.
However, it’s time the turnout number grew more significantly. The U-Pass referendum failed with 51 per cent of students saying ‘no’ to the $38 increase — now just imagine had that voter turnout increased by 100 more students. We could be looking at 51 per cent of students voting ‘yes’.
Students complained that the voting email, sent to their Brock email during the voting period, did not provide enough information about the referendum. Students have also proceeded to complain that the campaigning that is done by candidates and referendum teams – mostly in the Academic South Block hallway – are ‘annoying’ and it feels like they are being bombarded.
Before I get to my next point that students need to do all they can to be informed, I know I’ll be criticized with the “I’m here to study and get my degree, not worry about some election that doesn’t affect me”
Well for one, the uproar over the U-Pass failure proves that student elections do affect you. And two, just like if you are in a workplace that has a union, you as a student are in charge of being informed about your university.
Brock University Students’ Union holds election debates that are open for students, broadcast live by BrockTV and later summarized in The Brock Press. It’s your duty as a student and member of the students’ union to take time out to attend these debates. You aren’t required to stop in the middle of Academic South with candidates getting in your face, but you should stop at some point in the week of campaigns to get informed.
Here’s your first reminder of the year that student elections aren’t a popularity contest as shown in movies. It’s important to find the right candidates and vote the way that’ll help you as a student.
We aren’t the first university to have a U-Pass referendum fail, as it happened to the University of Guelph as well. Guelph received a second referendum, but that may not be the case for Brock.
All we can do as Brock students is be prepared for October’s election — no matter what the referendums are at that time. Take time to talk to people about the elections, ask questions and follow your two campus media teams throughout to get more information.
A 32.3 per cent voter turnout is a sad record. If the U-Pass has taught us anything, it’s time to make sure your voice is heard.
For now, this might be the last time you read about the U-Pass in The Brock Press — at least until the next elections. What’s been done is done, now we must prepare to make sure as a student-body we don’t make the same mistake with something else.