It was the election that never was.
On Monday, the people of London will vote for the person they believe should be the next mayor of their city. As elections go, this one has been really disappointing. Elections are a time to discuss issues and develop new ideas. Since Mayor Dianne Haskett's leave of absence, there has been little dialogue, other than speculation about where she is, what she's doing and mostly, what she was thinking when she removed herself from the public eye.
Despite this fact, there is more for students to contemplate when the weekend finishes and the polls open.
As students, we tend to skip the opportunity to vote in the municipal election and the lack of student-directed issues this year hasn't given us much incentive to come out in large numbers. For a start, many students are not in the city for very long, coming and going after a three or four-year degree is obtained. As well, it takes a lot of effort to keep up with all the city's politics and while many students follow what is going on in their home town, they do not become involved in the details of London's City Hall.
But London is not a rental unit. The mayor is someone who can directly affect the lives of students at Western.
The most direct impact the mayor has on students is that he or she has a vote on the Board of Governors, Western's highest governing body. Last year, students lobbied heavily to increase their representation on the Board, by doubling undergraduate student numbers from two to four. Although the attempt to gain more student seats failed, it was made very clear at that time how important it is for students to have a voice within a body that makes decisions about everything from tuition to new faculties.
It would make sense then, that students would jump at the opportunity to gain a stronger voice through the mayor sitting on the Board. But in order for this to happen, students need to know where the candidates stand on issues that concern them.
Do you know what the five candidates propose to do about London's housing? How do they feel about off-campus students' relationship with London residents? Do they have any ideas for youth employment? How willing are they to side with student motions when they are sitting in a Board of Governors meeting and everyone else is voting another way?
Read the literature. Phone the candidates. Get informed. After all, if students don't look out for themselves, who else is going to?