Staff | Report
Low voter turnout in the 2019 IGNITE elections show apathy around the student union that could result in many students choosing not to fund it to save when optional student fees come into play this fall, student activist Hannah Derue said on Friday night.
Derue, who co-founded the Pre-Medical Society at the University of Guelph-Humber and has been involved in campus politics in the past, weighed in on the election results, citing students’ inability to get to the polls.
“The numbers speak for themselves,” Derue wrote on Twitter, saying “voter apathy got us the Student Choice Initiative, and now it’s given us an electorate voted in with only 24.5 per cent of the student population voting.”
“If IGNITE can’t get students active as their most fundamental services are put on the province’s chopping block, IGNITE better prepare to have students opting out in droves.”
The government under Premier Doug Ford in January announced the Student Choice Initiative which will allow students to opt-out of funding certain aspects of campus with their fees that accompany tuition.
National student organizations, student union governments and campus publications across the province have condemned the move, saying it threatens the existence of unions and the services they offer.
Monica Khosla was re-elected to the IGNITE presidency on Friday evening, beating challenger and Board of Directors member Margarita Bader by 330 ballots.
She has been criticized for what some call weak transparency efforts but also praised for solid efforts towards a more accessible campus. Khosla largely vowed to improve on her last term without adding many new ideas.
The Avro Post has reached out to several vice presidents-elect and directors-elect for comment on the low voter turnout and a few of the former candidates and newly elected soon-to-be representatives responded.
“I’m hoping for the best,” Vice President-elect Megan Roopnarine said in response to questioning regarding voter apathy concerns leading to students opting-out.
“I know many students are involved with IGNITE if not through the election season then through fun events or services like insurance,” she told The Avro Post.
Newly elected Board Director Camila Ruiz Tacha said that her opinion is “that students are free to voice their opinions on things”, explaining that if opting out of the student union is an option they desire, then that is a choice they want to make.”
“I am a board of director and I will not force anyone to make a decision they are not comfortable with,” Tacha added, noting that despite the voter turnout decrease, “there are individuals who are truly into their school politics.”
These students are more likely to engage and speak up about issues on campus as well as keep IGNITE funded, the director-elect explained, believing that they will “speak up about government grants and what change IGNITE will make with having a new team.”
On the low turnout, Dilshan Marasinghe told The Avro Post that he hopes there will be larger turnout next year and “student will see that the main reasons these elections take place is to help brighten their unique experience in campus and make it as comfortable as possible”.
Ameem Rahman, who ran for the Humber College North Campus vice presidency, said that, in his opinion, he believes that voter apathy in the election will translate to students opting out of funding IGNITE.
Image of elections conference from The Avro Post.