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Say cheese, candidates… or should we say councillors

by The Concordian December 4, 2012
Say cheese, candidates… or should we say councillors

The Concordia Student Union byelections have come and gone and in the wake of it, we can’t help but feel that students really couldn’t care less.

A grand total of 465 Concordia students voted in the blessed event which took place Nov. 27 to 29. Needless to say, the turnout wasn’t ideal. Six candidates were elected from Arts and Science of the seven who ran, three from John Molson School of Business and zero from Fine Arts.

While council has now bulked up some in numbers, the complete lack of interest showed by the majority of the undergraduate student population is really disheartening. There were a number of problems with this round of byelections, namely the fact that it was not advertised nearly enough and the information out there wasn’t much to go on.

While candidate posters could be seen on bulletin boards around campus, it’s hard to believe the CSU put much effort into getting students out to vote. The one candidate who didn’t make the cut lost by three votes. We imagine he’s feeling pretty short-changed right now.

Besides the polling itself we worry about the lack of information available to students about the people they were electing. Seeing someone’s face on a poster and seeing their name on a ballot is not a good enough reason for them to be chosen as the right person for the job. In fact, it makes for decisions based on all the wrong reasons.

Voting for someone purely based on their attractiveness, or the heritage of their last name, or their gender or the glossiness of their poster is not okay. This isn’t the kind of behaviour that should be encouraged or allowed in a society full of disengaged voters. And yet, what other information was given to us?

Where were we supposed to read about their platforms and goals, who they were as people and what they wanted to accomplish on council? Where was the candidate debate or speeches put on by the CSU for students’ benefit? If the CSU has the attitude that students don’t care about elections and won’t vote anyway, then yeah, no one is going to vote.

If people who actually care about student politics can’t even find information about the candidates, how are students with a passing interest supposed to? The CSU has more power than one might think and the sad truth is that there were likely hundreds if not thousands of students who didn’t even know elections were happening last week.

What can be done about this, you ask? We offer no magical solution, but if the union which is supposed to represent students is content to be composed of people who get voted in based on their looks or the catchiness of their name then we have a bigger problem than poor voter turnout. But hey, we’ll have the most attractive student union in town.

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2 comments

Hardial Rosner December 7, 2012 - 17:19

While I agree that the low turnout was a huge disappointment, I do not think it merits jumping to the conclusion that the candidates had nothing to offer but a pretty face.
I would also like to point out that “glossy posters” was apparently not the clincher for students deciding who to vote for, since Ben, who received the most votes of all, did not poster at all, whereas Justin had great posters all over the place.
Also, candidate bios were available to all at elections.csu.qc.ca, and there was a Facebook group set up called CSU 2012 By-Election. Many candidates including myself also set up personal pages and encouraged anyone interested to ask us what they might like to know about us or our platforms.
And one thing that particularly surprised me was that I was not contacted by the Concordian whatsoever before polling. I assumed that the student press would find it important to provide the student body with information on the candidates, a sentiment clearly mirrored in this opinion piece. If anyone is to help regular students know about what is going on around campus, should the student media not take up that responsibility?
Finally, I find it absolutely offensive that it is suggested that candidates who won did so based on their looks. I feel that it is childish to suggest that people, and particularly us women, who ran could only possibly win because of our looks and not our ideas.

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Hannah Hackney December 12, 2012 - 19:34

Isn’t it a little bit of a stretch to suggest that the only reason people got elected is their looks, gender, or ethnicity? Plenty of students did classroom speeches. Furthermore, one would think that journalistic organizations such as this paper could take on the task of interviewing candidates as a “magical solution”. 

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