Why voting in the 2021 SFSS executive committee election is important

Low-voter turnout, practicing democracy, and ensuring their voices are heard are a few reasons students should vote

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The voting period is open February 16-18 online through SFU Mail. The voting period is open February 16-18 online through SFU Mail. Image courtesy of Simon Fraser Student Society via Facebook

by Madeleine Chan, Opinions Editor

Last Fall’s Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) annual general meeting saw over 600 students in attendance one of the largest turnouts since the fervoured attendance of the 2018 impeachment. It seems like students want to, and are becoming more involved with how they are governed at SFU. To continue building this momentum of student engagement, students should be voting in the upcoming 2021 SFSS executive committee election and encouraging other students to do the same.

Voting in this year’s election should be especially desirable for all students considering the amount of discourse around the SFSS in the past year. These opinions have ranged from believing the SFSS is not suitable for governing students to believing that they are incredibly competent. One of the easiest ways students can act on their beliefs is by voting in those who they think are qualified. Directly influencing who constitutes the SFSS’ leadership by voting enables students to have their voices heard at SFU — something that seems to be in short supply when it comes to SFU’s administration. 

Low-turnout rates in previous elections show just how much student engagement has been lacking. Last year, all of the candidates were elected with less than 1,000 votes. Some of the faculty representatives were elected by a difference of a couple dozen votes, with some as low as two votes. This shows just how close the elections can be, and that every student’s vote matters. Previous years haven’t been much different either, with none of the candidates in the past four years being elected with more than 2,000 votes, despite the undergraduate student population of SFU hanging around the 25,000 mark. 

The SFSS is something that students have control over, especially when compared to other forms of government. It’s literally like a mini government that only pertains to, and is run by, SFU students. It’s not like a provincial or federal election where millions of people are voting. There are only a couple thousand that have that power here so each vote has more relative potential for change. This is a democratic power that students have the undeniable right to use, and should take advantage of while they can. 

In addition, this year’s election ballot comes with referendum questions that impact students beyond who leads them. One of these questions asks if students will agree to a new bylaw that would ensure any future investments by the SFSS are “fossil fuel free.” On top of deciding who leads them, students can participate in a decision that takes away any possibility of the SFSS fiscally contributing to greater carbon emissions, and could help BC’s climate plan

There should be no excuse for not voting in the upcoming SFSS executive committee election. The ballot link goes directly to students’ email and candidates’ platforms are readily available on social media pages. Whether students are happy with the direction the SFSS is going in, or looking for change, they should be voting in the upcoming election. This is the time to be heard.

Students can vote from February 16–18 through an SFU Mail link. A list of candidates, platforms, and more information on the election can be found at sfss.ca