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Campus was eerily quiet today. So quiet that I had to double check my phone just to make sure today was, in fact, the first day of campaigning for UTSU elections. Gone are the intense poster wars at 7am. Gone are the heated (and albeit slightly hilarious) slogans shouted with vigour in front of Sid Smith. Gone are the UTSU elections.
Okay, not really. No one can get rid of UTSU (trust me, people have tried). Without further ado, let me introduce to you the one the only slate running this year:
Executive Board Candidates:
- President: Munib Sajjad
- VP Internal & Services: Cameron Wathey
- VP External: Sana Ali
- VP Equity: Yolen Bollo-Kamara
- VP University Affairs: Agnes So
There are two familiar names up there. Both Munib and Yolen are current UTSU VPs of University Affairs and Campus Life, respectively. Everyone else are rookies to UTSU politics, so how those candidates do remains to be seen. One thing is for sure, with two international students running, Renew is using the diversity card to push their tuition agenda.
Chances are, you didn’t know we had UTSU elections this year. That’s okay! Don’t feel bad. You probably aren’t the only one. With the way campaigning week is starting off, you probably won’t be hearing much about it anyway. This is my fourth U of T election, and so far it has been my quietest.
An election is only as engaging as the parties running. It serves both legislative and entertainment purposes. What I mean by that is, an election decides the fate of legislative directions for the coming term, but it is only as interesting as the personalities in the race. In past years, the general formula has been an “incumbent” vs “opposition” race. Slate go head to head over issues they think are relevant to U of T (incumbent) or try to take down The Man (opposition). While voter turnout has always been low at our university, there was at least a buzz on campus. Candidates used to campaign in major campus hubs, and students going to and from class would get at least one pamphlet during the week.
Since Renew is the only slate running, it seems like they have taken the half-assed approach to campaigning. And why shouldn’t they? Why should they put in the same amount of work as previous years if they’re going to win anyway, right? At this point, all executive positions will be filled. Most of the Board of Director positions – with the exception of Trinity, of course – have been acclaimed, meaning that the people running are guaranteed positions on the board. Renew’s website wasn’t up until the afternoon, and as of March 4, 9:15pm their Twitter account is still locked and inactive. The link to their Facebook Page from their website doesn’t work. Once found, it doesn’t really tell us much.
Perhaps I am being too nitpicky about their PR strategy. But think of it this way: with horrible PR, how are they supposed to get the word out? You haven’t got a campaign if no one follows it. I get it though. There’s not point in actually campaigning when there’s no one running against you. It’s practical. It’s pragmatic. And most of all, it tells you just how much Renew wants students to know about their platform.
That isn’t to say Renew is going to sweep the board. Acclaimed positions undergo a “confirmation vote”, meaning that students can vote Yes or No. If enough people vote No or cast an empty ballot, these positions will remain vacant until someone more suitable fills it. So, as decisive as this year’s elections may seem, things can still change at the turn of a dime.
We should know about our student union. It can be as simple as learning about what services and platforms each new executive team has to offer. Look for these candidates and talk to them. Clearly, they aren’t going to talk to you. It is up to us as U of T students to step up and put running candidates on the spot.
As always, I encourage anyone and everyone to comment and share their opinions. I will be posting my thoughts here on blogUT throughout the election period, so look out for them! If you would like to contact me or you have a tip you want me to talk about, comment below or tweet me at @cjyc23.