Exercise your right

Students should care more about their student government

The SAITSA Board of Directors (BOD) election has come and gone, and SAITSA experienced a voter turnout of 7.84 per cent. And, for the BOD, this is a good turnout.

But, unfortunately, we also had fewer candidates this year than we had open positions.

That’s right, folks. We had 12 candidates running for 15 positions. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking to disparage our eight new board members in any way.

It’s a great service that they are providing.

In fact, it’s more than a service.

American business magnate John D. Rockefeller said, “every right implies a responsibility.”

And so, it is our responsibility to run for office and to seek representation.

“The students who are elected into the BOD and EC [Executive Council] represent over 12,500 students to SAIT executives, instructors and staff, government officials, and industry and community leaders. Your vote matters, and so do your friend’s and classmate’s,” said Rachel Paris, SAITSA’s governance and advocacy manager.

And yet Nikola Yee, a student in her last year of studying respiratory therapy at SAIT, said that she feels woefully uninformed about SAITSA politics.

“Frankly, I don’t really know what SAITSA has done during the past year,” said Yee. “If they had a little more exposure, maybe that would help.” 

So, perhaps before I continue any further, I should take my share of the blame. Although The Weal did cover the election, our first responsibility is to keep SAIT students abreast of events that will impact them and their school.

In this regard, we have failed.

But our reach only extends so far.

Where has our sense of civic duty gone?

Yee said that election promotion was ubiquitous on campus when she attended the University of Calgary (U of C).

Flyers were handed out to students, advertisements were run on television screens and advocates roamed the campus openly discussing policy with anybody who would stop and listen.

And so, the University of Calgary’s student union election this year had a voter turnout of 24.7 per cent.

That’s more than three times our turnout, and it’s a smaller turnout than they had the year before.

It’s important to note the U of C has a significantly larger student population than the little patch of land we call SAIT. In addition, they also have students studying political science, who, on average, are more interested in student politics than most.

What the U of C’s numbers prove, however, is with more awareness surrounding the BOD elections and more student enviorement, we can see our voter turnout increase exponentially.

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