Tierney Watkinson | Team Member
We, our generation, must become more involved.
At the NUGSS elections this year, the voter turnout was discouragingly low. Along with the released election results was the statistic that only 19% of eligible students voted.
I believe that a lot of the scrutiny placed on the outgoing NUGSS board has been unwarranted. They are being forced to deal with the consequences of poor management, miscommunication, and oversight from years past. This is the team that discovered the mistake in the first place. They were open and honest about it. Let us not forget that. Attitudes towards the outgoing NUGSS board members have been cruel, ruthless, and unnecessary.
On top of that, you cannot complain ceaselessly about the ruling party and then be apathetic come voting day. You cannot expect change to magically happen. Where are the voters? Where are the involved students? Forgive my “you” and “we” generalizations; they are partly laziness on my part, as well as purely assumptive. By which I mean, due to low attendance at NUGSS AGMs, town halls and elections I am assuming that very few students can be bothered to become involved in campus events unless there is alcohol and a DJ (considering that we seemed to find the Backyard BBQ so much more appealing). Do drink tickets and candy need to be handed out as incentive to pay attention to policies at UNBC? It seems that pizza, at least, is not enough, because it was offered at the EGM in February; there, we struggled to meet a quorum of 106. 106, in a school of around 4000 students. Why the apathy, students of UNBC? You cannot tell me that about 3800 students were all otherwise occupied at 11am on a Wednesday morning.
It is apparent, looking that the NUGSS Election candidates, that a number of students have in fact taken initiative at UNBC. But it is not enough. A 19% turnout is abysmal. Unfortunately, it seems as though such a devastating lack of participation is a theme across the province. At the last BC Provincial Election in 2013, voter turnout was only 52%. A mere 47.9% of eligible voters aged 18 to 24 actually cast a vote, and only 39.8% of registered voters aged 25 to 34 showed up to the voting stations. This is nowhere near enough. If you do not vote, you have no right to complain when the newly elected leader introduces policies you do not approve of.
It is time to get angry. It is time to get involved.
We need to step up. Do we expect the key to be handed to us? Maybe these superhero stories that are overwhelming the box office currently, stories about the “chosen one”, about characters who are handed powers and then are obligated to save the world for us, have in fact been more harmful than we realize. I would have hoped that these stories would inspire us to become heroic ourselves, but a sorry number of us seem content to wait for a saviour, instead. Heroes do not exist simply because you hope for them. Heroes exist because you become them. No one is going to hand a single person all of the answers and all of the abilities. WE, collectively, need to get up off of our asses and work for that change we keep saying we want to see. We must quit this mentality wherein if the issues do not frighten us, we are content and do not question the ruling party.
You need look no further than immediately south of the Canadian border to see what happens when people become scared and misguided. In fact, we did the exact same thing here in Canada during our last federal election, with Harper and Trudeau. Groups of Canadians became afraid. Harper threatened values many held dear, so we the voters chose the candidate most likely to defeat him, and voted for them. People voted Liberal because they didn’t want Harper. Down south, people voted reality-show scum because a major group saw Clinton as a threat and they wanted to prevent her ascension into power. In Canada’s 2016 election, such an incident felt like a victory, and served as proof that younger voters could cause drastic change. In the US, a similar phenomenon occurred but from the perspective of educated or empathetic people it had an effect that was anything but victorious. Even here in Canada, can the change inspired by the last federal election truly be called “informed”? Or were youth merely incensed blindly into action by the apparent threat of PM Harper?
We all seem to know too much about Republican and Democratic childish skirmishes in the US, simply because they have now become impossible to ignore. Americans handed that orange, ignorant felt bag the keys to their country through ignorance. Be involved in your country. Don’t leave it until it is too late.
BC Elections are coming up fast. It is too late to vote for your school representatives. If you missed the bus on that, too bad. But you can have a say about our provincial leadership.
If you don’t like any of the political party options, start to think about why that is. Create your own party, if only to push major parties to become more aware and available. Or join a party you sort of like, and change it from the inside out. Or gather your peers and flood the current party offices with letters and emails and phone calls to let that political group know that you do not approve of their policies, you believe they need a reformation, you believe they are not listening to the public, and that you are not alone in that mindset. Go to elections.bc.ca and make sure you are registered to vote. The Elections BC website lays out the process, rules, and dates for provincial voting so clearly that you have zero excuse for avoiding it.
Research the candidates. Look into their policies. Choose the one you believe to be best for the future of British Columbia and yourself. As of yet, the parties do not seem to have their shit together. Do not let that become an excuse for you to not vote. A vote of abstention, if that is your choice, is still a vote. An abstention carries more weight than an absence.
Come voting day, be prepared. You need one piece of government issued photo ID, such as your driver’s licence or a new health care card, OR a certificate of Indian Status, OR two pieces of ID that don’t need to have photos on them but one must have your current address listed (this piece of ID can be a utility bill, stamped mail, a transcript). If you somehow lose every piece of identification before elections happen, you can even get someone to “vouch” for you. The Elections BC website supplies a full list of acceptable IDs and tells you about the vouching process.
Important dates: Voter Registration ends April 11 at midnight. Advanced voting is available April 29 and 30, from 8 am to 8 pm, and again from May 3 through May 6. The General Voting Day is May 9.