Put down your textbooks and vote
Will you walk past the polling stations set up around campus from March 27 to 29 or cast your vote for the new Concordia Student Union (CSU) executive?
With finals on the horizon, student union elections likely sit near the bottom of many students’ priority lists. This is counterintuitive. For any student hoping to flourish in university and make the most of their experience at Concordia, the CSU election is arguably the most important election to participate in.
With more than $6.5 million in revenue from fees in the 2016-17 academic year alone, it’s clear the CSU has the money and resources to significantly impact the university experiences of the more than 35,000 undergraduate students it represents. By casting a vote in the CSU election, students can have a real say in how the student union is governed and how those resources are distributed.
But it’s not just about the money. The CSU and other student associations are often the ones directing the university administration’s attention to serious problems on campus. Most recently, the CSU successfully demanded the right to recruit the undergraduate members of the Task Force on Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Violence, and is continuing to advocate for more student seats on the task force. The CSU also hosted a congress on Feb. 28 to give all students the opportunity to voice their concerns and suggestions for policy changes about how sexual misconduct on campus is dealt with.
It is the CSU’s top mandate to defend the rights of students and ensure our voices are heard. This is at the heart of their past and present campaigns for paid internships, climate justice and fossil fuel divestment, anti-austerity and ending tuition hikes. Services provided to students through the CSU range from the health and dental insurance plan to the legal information clinic to the daily free lunches offered at the Loyola Hive Café. The Housing and Job Resource Centre (HOJO) helps students find jobs and educate themselves on tenant and workers’ rights. The Student Advocacy Centre promotes student rights and assists students with issues of academic misconduct or violations of the Code of Rights and Responsibilities.
Among the responsibilities of the new CSU executive will be ensuring a smooth beginning for its downtown daycare centre and the successful completion of the $14 million housing co-operative.
Regardless of your outlook on student politics, it’s nearly impossible to be an undergraduate at Concordia and not be impacted in some way by the CSU. As with any other election, it is important to participate in the democratic process. Unlike other elections, however, your vote carries weight. You are one of 35,000 students, rather than one of about seven million eligible Quebec voters or one of over 25 million eligible Canadian voters.
So put down your textbooks, close Facebook, grab yourself another cup of coffee and take a minute to learn about the candidates and their platforms. What changes do you want to see on campus? Who’s advocating for the things you care about? Who do you want to be your voice for the next year?
Now, more than ever, there is proof that students can make an impact when they stand up and speak up for what they believe in. Students are no longer expected to follow the status quo and accept their circumstances. It may not seem like much, but casting a vote from March 27 to 29 is a step toward making Concordia a more engaging, safe and positive place for everyone.
Graphic by Alexa Hawksworth