Popularity Contest

If you don't cast a vote in USC elections, they remain a popularity contest

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Two weeks of campaigning have passed and a new University Students’ Council president will be announced tomorrow night.

And over the past two weeks, campus has been bombarded with posters, enthusiastic campaign team members and other displays trying to get you to vote. Beyond the Western gates, you’ve likely been invited to a Facebook group or seen eager campaigners on Richmond Row encouraging you to make an “informed” vote.

With the shenanigans complete, the average Western student now faces a dilemma: should I take 30 seconds over the next two days to vote online?

Looking at each candidate’s major platform initiatives and qualifications, this year’s front-runners don’t differ drastically.

With the constraints of a one-year term and responsibilities of negotiating with Western’s administration for control of the University Community Centre, only a limited number of initiatives will likely be completed over the next year by each candidate.

With this in mind, many students are immediately turned off from voting. And beyond this, many believe USC elections are simply a popularity contest and that their vote won’tcount for anything.

To an extent, this skepticism is warranted. To acquire 3,000 to 4,000 votes, presidential candidates require campaign teams which are well-connected within various student bodies and affiliates to “secure” them votes. A well-rounded campaign team will feature individuals who can get enough people within major faculties, affiliate colleges, fraternities and residences to vote for them during elections.

While not everyone agrees with this contention, many students do and, as such, are oblivious to the elections.

Those belonging in this category may want to reconsider their decisions not to vote.

If USC elections are indeed nothing more than a popularity contest, the last thing you should do over the next two days is not vote. Instead, you and your fellow non-believers in the political process should cast votes to reverse this trend.

Elections in themselves aren’t irrelevant, but can only be made so by an electorate. By not voting, you reinforce the trend you’re against.

Whether you take the bus to school or are reading this column, you’ve likely utilized a USC service at some point in your time at Western, which should provide you with some motivation to vote.

And if nothing else, by voting, at least you warrant yourself the right to complain next year if you’re dissatisfied with the portion of your Spoke fries.

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