This week will see students at Concordia, or at least a very small percentage of them, vote in the CSU elections. You most likely knew that already, either because you have been informed about them by a bunch of cape-wearing people with a sign they made using 53 glitter-glue sticks, or by the seemingly endless glossy posters that will soon be filling Montreal’s landfills.
This year’s CSU elections are dominated by the hokey-sounding Your Concordia and Action slates. Both slates present themselves as having unique and transformative visions of Concordia’s future. Unfortunately, given that most of their promises are the same, neither is in any way unique, and given that the bulk of their promises do not seem very realistic, it is hard to see how either would be in any way transformative.
The main problem with this CSU election is the lack of choice. Both of the slates that have dominated the seemingly boundless and distracting campaigning process promise roughly the same things: to fight tuition increases, to extend shuttle bus service in some way, to work towards a bottled water free campus, to take back “student space,” and to be more financially transparent. In that these are the core promises of both groups, it is hard to understand why one would bother voting for one rather than the other, or why they are even running against each other.
While the similarity of the two slates’ promises certainly removes any option of choice for voters in the CSU election, the promises themselves are problematic as well. The main problem with both slates’ vows is the claim that they will somehow be able to fight tuition increase while at the same time argue for the provision of more and more costly services, like extended shuttle bus service. Any first-year student at JMSB will tell you that if you’re going to be spending more money, you need more money, not less money. As well, the idea of fighting tuition increases seems even more ridiculous when one considers the fact that in order to maintain the high level of education at Concordia in a time of rising inflation, more money is required. Not to mention, the provincially-mandated tuition increases will still leave Quebec students paying some 30 per cent less than students in the rest of Canada.
Along with their ridiculous ideas regarding fighting tuition increases, it is absurd that they promise to fight for a bottled water free campus at a university that just signed a multi-year contract with a multinational corporation that sells bottled water on campus. Along with that absurdity, it is hard to understand how they will reclaim “student space,” presumably from commercial interests that are as well present on campus as a result of legally-binding contracts.
Faced with an election in which the two dominant slates offer no choice to voters, and in which their core promises are both ridiculous and irresponsible, what is the average Concordia student to do? You could not vote, as most students usually do, but that’s not very effective.
If students at Concordia truly want to protest the lack of both choice and responsible candidates in the CSU election, they should spoil their votes. Spoiling your vote means writing something other than the name of a candidate on the ballot. You can write your own name, write your grandma’s name, or your cat’s name, but just don’t write in the name of one of the official candidates. In doing so, you can protest the lack of choice or responsible candidates in the CSU election while still participating in the electoral process.