Premature inauguration

A quick election cycle leads to questions about the campaign process

When there’s more substance on the SAITSA trifold behind the candidates running for executive council than in their platforms, things need to change.

This was the case for some, but not all, at the March 8, ‘meet the candidates’ evening at The Odyssey Coffeehouse.

But, considering they were all given the questions four — yes, four — days ahead of the event, there is no excuse for the lackadaisical approach some of them displayed.

SAITSA considered taking questions from the floor, but due to time restraints and this being some of the candidates’ first time exposed to the roles they were running for, the questions were limited to those provided.

“Some of the questions were designed because the role of the EC (Executive Council) is complex. It’s not that it’s mysterious, but some people don’t really know what it is until they get into the role,” said Rachel Paris, governance and advocacy manager at SAITSA.

Changes need to take place if the candidate taking the role only knows what the job description is three weeks beforehand.

However, in the last year, voter turnout has increased significantly, which goes to show the work Paris has been doing since she took the job in August 2015, is not in vain.

“It was kind of a perfect storm for this election in particular,” Paris claimed.

It’s true, with everyone out of a job, the executive council positions must look like a lucrative deal, which is why there were more candidates campaigning than in previous years, but that produces those who don’t take things seriously.

“I like to say ‘nothing is impossible,’” Paris mentioned the political committees stance on what the candidates can campaign on, suggesting they don’t limit what students’ can offer voters.

However, that can yield the lofty promise of cheaper parking that appeals to students but is not under SAITSA, or an improvement on our “gym for ants,” (which, by the way, was already approved).

Paris said, like provincial or federal governments, they could over promise on a campaign.

But, we all know that’s nothing new (Trump wall anyone?).

Sadly, this leaves the students grasping for factual information that just isn’t available in a two-week election cycle.

While the campaign shouldn’t be three months long, as some schools’ are, it also shouldn’t be two weeks where the voter blinks and misses out on the nomination and voting process.

The University of Calgary held nominations from Feb. 8-10 and voted on March 1-3, just under a month.

The voter turnout was 24.7 per cent, and that was down almost a full percentage point from last year.

SAIT’s was 16.8 per cent, which, again, is rising steadily under Paris.

“Hopefully, five years down the road we can have it at 25 per cent,” said Paris.

“It’s just more representative of the student body.”

Paris brought up good points on the length in which students are at SAIT, with most being here for just two years versus U of C’s average four.

But students should be just as engaged and committed no matter how long they’re at school.

If the students realized that in 2015, SAITSA employees were paid $2.38 million in salaries, wages and benefits, maybe they might care more.

Which brings up the point that SAITSA is a very private organization.

Even the candidates who ran in this election cycle realized SAITSA needs to do a better job in promoting themselves and disclosing the good things they do for students, of which there are numerous.

Still, SAITSA made an effort to get the candidates’ message out there, which should be commended.

And there are improvements coming, like information sessions on the job definition before students run, giving them at least a basic understanding before they put on the proverbial hotdog costume.

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