With a few cameras and a catchy cheer, Concordia students gathered to join a growing movement across Canada to ask political candidates to listen to their concerns. Over 70 students congregated into a “vote mob” on the Reggie’s terrace downtown on Tuesday afternoon.
The mob was heavily populated by student politicians, both aspiring and current, including Concordia Student Union president Heather Lucas, and several candidates from both parties recently disqualified in the 2011 CSU elections. The video featured Your Concordia VP candidate Gonzalo Nieto, who asked students whether they were going to vote. The group then rushed onto the scene, brandishing posters and Canadian flags and chanting “We’re going to vote” for the cameras – to the tune of comedy troupe The Lonely Island’s hit song “I’m on a Boat.”
Students then flipped their posters to reveal that they had each inscribed an issue that was important to them on the back, including sustainability, aboriginal rights, healthcare, climate change and accessibility to education.
The event falls into line with a wave of vote mobs that have been staged on university campuses across the country in recent weeks. On March 31, students at the University of Guelph in Ontario kickstarted the movement by uploading a video of their vote mob to YouTube.
Sophie Monkman, a co-organizer for Tuesday’s event, was inspired by friends at McMaster University who were involved in the school’s vote mob. She attributed the popularity of the trend with students to the solidarity and inclusion that comes with it. “A lot of students want to get involved with movements such as these and a lot of them can sometimes be exclusive,” she said. “With a movement like this, they see a lot of university students all over the country doing it and they can relate – they think similarly about the issues that are going on and issues that are affecting us.”
Monkman was pleased with the results of today’s event, despite being constrained by the limited space on the terrace. “Unfortunately we wished that we could have had more people coming but the amount that we had was really manageable and I think we made a really great video out of it,” the first-year anthropology major said.
Conservative candidate for the Westmount-Ville Marie riding Neil Drabkin also made an appearance. “I think these vote mobs are wonderful in sensitizing students to the fact that they have the right to vote, that they need to exercise the right to vote,” Drabkin said. “I encourage people to come out and vote and exercise what’s probably the most important right in a democratic country.” Drabkin was eventually asked by organizers to leave so as to maintain the non-partisan premise of the event. He re-appeared after the event to speak with students.
As for Concordia’s video, event organizer Melissa Fuller that the video will be posted online within a few days.
Monkman hopes the movement will catalyze into a stronger presence at the polls for student voters. “Hopefully if this has any impact on how the elections turn out, on how political leaders are paying attention to youth then perhaps political leaders will include us and we will be a target group,” she said. “Then maybe things will change.”
Check out more photos from Tuesday’s vote mob below.