Vote In The NUGSS Election!
By Tyson Kelsall, Culture Editor
It is the election season for the University of Northern BC’s Northern Undergraduate Student Society. The campaign period is running until 2 March, with a voting station being set up for 3 and 4 March. Winning candidates will serve from April 2014 until March 2015.
This is the undergraduate student population’s opportunity to shape what is done with the $65 society fee they individually pay each year. However, previous election days at UNBC have not attracted as much of the student body as it should have. In fact, last election only 403 votes were cast, contrasted with UNBC having roughly 3300 undergraduate students. Voting is an important mechanism in showing the board and executives of NUGSS what students want, as is engaging with the people who are hoping to run NUGSS. On 27 February, speeches will be held by candidates to display their platform, attending this is an important step in deciding on how to place your vote.
On 14 February, NUGSS released the final list of nominations. Incumbent President Alden Chow will be challenged by Angela Kehler, the current Academic Representative; Danielle Dysserinck and Carlin Haines will both run for VP of Finance; Amarilys Ducharme and Kelley Ware will run for VP of Student Affairs; William Clyne and David Clarkson will run for VP External; while Shawn Caldera will be uncontested for VP Social, as will Molly Fredeen for Academic Rep, and Mia Pupic for Women’s Representative. Michael Watson and Mark Monroe will each run for Assistant Directors of Sustainability and Events, respectively.
Students often have a range of criticisms for the university. This year for instance, there have been mutterings of frustration towards the new food services contract and the lack of consultation; or the narrative that has run across the years that students have too many fees for things they do not use. Regardless if one agrees or disagrees with these things, it is important to elect people that align with students’ beliefs, and the more students who vote the stronger chance is that this will happen. Looking further ahead, if students start becoming more involved with NUGSS, the more potential NUGSS has in playing a bigger role. Not only is it likely that more people will run as the importance of NUGSS elections starts to expand, but the more participation the students have the stronger the society will be in influencing decisions that UNBC makes. Historically, student unions have played an important role in advocating for what happens within a university, but only when the student collective is large and engaged.
One of the recent and largest examples, of course, being the student strikes of 2012 in Québec, which halted tuition increases. Beyond that, it can be argued that UNBC is filled with some of the most progressive and/or innovative minds and people of the Prince George community, so the stronger the voice that NUGSS can be is important to how they can affect the town in which they are grounded.