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To vote or not to vote

Election time, an inevitability at any Alberta post-secondary institution.

Students are suddenlbombarded with posters and campaign material for approximately two weeks and then expected to take time out of their busy school schedule to vote.

“I didn’t vote,” said Jazz Fraser.

Fraser is brand new to SAIT, having just begun her first semester of the Business Administration program. “I go to school and work, so the elections weren’t really on my radar.”

If municipal, provincial, and federal elections struggle with voter apathy, how on earth is it possible to attract the attention of a population of relatively transient students?

The big question is, to put it bluntly, why should any student care about the elections? Many programs at SAIT are a short two years, and many of the trades involve considerable time away from the campus.

Compared to the completion of a masters program at the UofC, time is too scarce for students to become invested enough in their environment to think democratically

Fraser’s short time at the institution meant there wasn’t enough time to research candidates.

Regardless, the window between the time posters go up and the actual elections is so tight, even students who intend to vote feel a bit of a time crunch.

Fraser said she intends to vote in future elections, especially if issues that matter to her, like student fees, are discussed.

The recently passed election included competition for the Student’s Executive Council (SEC).

These include the big names in student government – president, vice president, etc.

The positions must be filled by SAIT students, and the winners also get paid.

In fact, for students, they get paid quite well. With a salary of just over $39,000 for their one-year term, these positions also receive RRSP contributions, extended benefits, and six weeks of paid vacation.

So, if tuition and taxes are in anyway contributing to this, it might be reasonable to show some interest.

Naturally, the SEC is responsible for hosting individuals that will represent the student body.

The individual candidates all promise various arrays of improvements, some more realistic than others.

“Honestly, I have been so busy with midterms that the posters are just colourful additions to the campus,” said Amanda Zee, currently enrolled as a  student in the Environmental Technologies program.

Previously having gone to the UofC, Zee would often make the time to vote. She said the SAIT student elections just have not been up there on the priority list.

“They came to ask me at lunch if I would vote on their iPad, which is a great idea,  but I was trying to cram last minute and didn’t have time,” said Zee.

She laughed at her own responses, commenting that it sounds like she doesn’t have time for democracy.

It is a valid point, however, since the elections are held in the middle of the semester when many of the programs are experiencing bigger projects and tests.

For students, making an informed decision on voting would be another time commitment.

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