Volume 96, Issue 70
Tuesday, February 4, 2003

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Lack of competition hurts elections

Nominations for the University Students' Council president and faculty council positions closed last week. Appallingly, there will only be three electoral races out of a possible 10. In most faculties, the president and councillors have been acclaimed because no other candidates emerged.

Why does this matter?

To begin with, if its positions are simply being filled by those who bothered to fill out a nomination form, the USC may not have the best people available to represent students. The acclaimed candidates are not necessarily unqualified, but without a chance to present their ideas and deal with challenges that arise during elections, it is, at best, unclear as to whether the best people are getting the positions.

Secondly, the lack of candidates is systemic of several problems the USC faces.

Student apathy and the perceived irrelevance of the USC certainly come into play. The lack of nominations show that this year's council has failed to inspire those who might otherwise want to get involved, or those already on council who might wish to seek re-election.

The nomination process itself suffered from a lack of promotion. Along with the individual faculty councils, as a whole, it is the USC's responsibility to promote and recruit students to fill its ranks. This year's USC Board of Directors has promoted reaching out to high school students in the London area; maybe they should focus more on reaching out to students on our own campus.

Evidently, not enough people were aware of the USC positions up for grabs. This reflects poorly on the visibility of the current council. In a school of more than 26,000 students, there should be tight races for every position in each faculty.

Worse yet, several positions remain vacant, without even a single person coming forward to claim a faculy seat on council.

Maybe that's just fine. If no students in a faculty are willing to throw their hat in the political ring, then perhaps the faculty does not deserve representation. But there is more than simple apathy at play.

The fact remains that, this year's USC Board, while succeeding at the development and implementation of numerous practical initiatives, has not done anything of relevance to inspire students, from either a positive or negative stance, to become passionate or attracted to student politics.

The USC, while overseeing many important day-to-day student services, has not found a way to attract student participation and spark their attention. Whether it is a lack of cohesive spirit or energy at often tedious council meetings, or a lack of visible grassroots action on campus, a dismal election campaign seems to now be underway.





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