The controversies of last year’s Humber Students’ Federation election are gone but hopefully not forgotten. Candidates for various positions were ejected from the campaign with no real explanation from HSF or Natalia Toussaint, the chief returning officer (CRO) they hired to oversee the whole process.
These events sullied the image of our union in the eyes of many. HSF election policies pertaining to the powers of the CRO have since been changed pending their approval at the next general meeting. Whether or not to accept these changes is up to you, the student body.
Before then you have another decision that needs to be made. The stain of April’s controversies led to the rejection of Shawn Manahan as the eventual winner for the presidency following the unexplained disqualification of then-HSF President Tim Brilhante. The fact that Manahan’s win came with less than 20 per cent of the popular vote surely played no small role.
Now Manahan is trying again, his third attempt in fact, joining three others – Ali Zaidi, Patrick Millerd and Thomas Walton – in an effort to register a good, clean win for the opportunity to lead HSF for the next seven months.
Unfortunately, there is a disturbing lack of interest in any form of politics from today’s youth. Elections Canada reported that voter turnout of those between 18 and 24 years of age did not break 45 per cent in the past four federal general elections.
By-elections are historically even worse. In the four federal by-elections held June 30 of this year, an average of 24.1 per cent of all eligible voters turned out. The 2011 federal general election turnout was more than double that.
This does not bode well for a high level of interest in the current HSF by-election, with voting opening today.
It is up to you and your classmates to prove history wrong.
It is a common belief that student government is a pointless exercise; that it does not warrant any time or attention. This belief is a fallacy.
HSF doesn’t exist solely to put on puerile events like casino nights and speed dating.
The man elected to the presidency on Tuesday — there are unfortunately no women candidates for the role this time — will take the reins and signing authority of an organization with a budget just shy of $11 million.
Almost entirely derived from student tuition payments, that money goes towards bursaries to help the less fortunate among us. It funds the health and dental plans of which not enough students avail themselves. It provides for the clubs and organizations in which we seek our like-minded peers.
Whomever is elected Tuesday will also be the representative to the college administration and the community at large for you and the 27,000 full-time Humber students who are your peers.
This by-election matters. It matters a lot.
Each one of us has a right to have our say in who represents us. And that right should not be taken lightly.
This is not merely a popularity contest.
Don’t allow your vote to be bought with vague platitudes about school spirit and hollow promises of fantastical events and services.
Take a few minutes to learn something about each of these candidates. Find out who they are and what they stand for. Then take a minute more and vote.