Editorial Board 2000-2001
Do students want more than just a new University Students' Council president?
The university voting population will head to their personal computer voting booths today to vote for the new leader of the Western world well the chair of the USC, anyway.
And as the electronic votes pour in while the candidates wait for the results, one has to wonder whether how the power of supposed student apathy mixed with the mediocrity of this year's council will factor in the final tally.
Over the past five years of USC presidential elections, numbers have fluctuated in total votes cast Dave Tompkins attracted 1,625 of 4,329 in 1995/96, Ryan Parks reached out to 1345 of 4986 in 1996/97, Ian Armour gathered 2,506 of 5,369 in 1997/98, SzeJack Tan ran away with 1,728 of 3,338 in 1998/99 and last year Dave Braun gained 1,642 of 5,302.
Very different years, combining different candidates and different voting populations. However, what ties four of the five election years was some sort of campus-wide referendum.
Tompkins' year asked whether social science students wanted a $50 student levy or not. Parks' election queried whether students wanted a campus dental plan. Armour's ballot asked whether students wanted to jump on London buses and two years later Braun's made sure that Western students were serious about the bus plan.
The only election year without a referendum question featured on the ballot was Tan's, which also equaled out to the lowest voter turn-out of the five. Coincidence? Perhaps but is there a deeper message being established by this analysis? Are Western students screaming, by over 1,000 votes, that the real issues affecting them are not being delivered by presidential hopefuls, but by means of campus-wide services such as bus passes?
What will the 2000/01 elections hold without one of these grandiose inquiries?
The real issues students seemingly care about, such as the cost of tuition fees, medical/dental plans, book prices and bus passes, have either been established or are out of the commercial/political auspices of the USC.
In both politics and business, the USC has seemed hot and cold this year. The USC has shone on issues like the student code and O-Week, but fallen on various event-planning opportunities.
It comes down to what the Western population wants their USC to do. Should they be out searching for a cause to fire up, or sitting back and waiting for the blaze to begin so that they can attempt to put it out? Should they be out taking fiscal risks on operations with potential, or sitting back and running events that have and will always run?
Sadly, with this year's ballot being void of a major campus-wide question, Western students are poised to show that the rhetoric-filled popularity contest known as the USC presidential election is not even enough for a point-and-click democracy.