St. Thomas University’s students’ union election voter turnout took a dramatic downturn this year when nearly half as many voters
turned out to this month’s by-election than the year before.
All told, 271 ballots were cast representing 12.2 per cent of the student body, down from 22.8 per cent at last years by-election. STUSU president Santiago Chavez said much more concerning to him is the lack of nominees running for these positions.
“Not every position was filled. That’s the concern for me,” he said.
Positions remain empty for off-campus first-year liaison, and The Aquinian board of directors first-year representative. All of the positions won were uncontested.
“I think the problem is in general apathy towards taking a greater responsibility, especially when it’s a commitment to a group or commitment to an institution.”
Vice president academic Sam Titus was discussing an upcoming presentation for STUSU to encourage student involvement on campus when he made note of the issue.
“That is (the presenter, Pat Joyce’s) area of specialty and I think we could all benefit from it, in light of our abysmal voter turnout.”
Chavez sees the small turnout as circumstantial. Mental health awareness week had grabbed much of the school’s and the union’s attention during the week of by-elections. On top of that, all candidates ran unopposed so the student representatives put less emphasis on spreading the word. The usual emails, social media posts, and posters were in place, though.
“We’re going to step it up big for the next elections,” he said.
“There is consensus that we want to demand more of candidates as candidates,” Chavez said. “For example, last year I ran unopposed, and because I ran uncontested what I did was a video interview.”
Chief Returning Officer Lindsey Kingston asked the questions, fielded from STUSU and students in general, which Chavez said could have “tried” him more.
Last year turnout in the general election was relatively high at 27 per cent, despite not having a presidential race. In 2013, 23.2 per cent of students voted.
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