Where have all the candidates gone?
Friday's four o'clock deadline for students to submit their candidacy for the USC elections has passed, and now that the dust has settled, we can see just how many students have joined the running.
Spoiler alert: there's not many.
Aside from the presidential slates for main campus and affiliate presidents, each faculty has an election for their president and council or faculty representative.
But few council races are contested this year. Social science, Western's largest faculty has only nine people running for ten positions, basically meaning all of them will be acclaimed in the election. Ten students are running for seven science rep positions on council, the second largest contingent.
Of the nine faculty presidents, all are acclaimed except for science and FIMS. A similar theme as last year. There is an election for Kinesiology faculty representative with two people running for the one slot.
Now, for all we know, all of these acclaimed candidates may end up doing a great job in the role. But by not having any opposition, we miss out on the chance to vet those applying in comparison to each other. We lose out on different perspectives on issues, and we by and large have to hope that the candidates who are acclaimed will do an acceptable job, since having any warm body in the role is better than not having one at all.
Of course, this doesn't mean that those candidates have a free ride. Even though they're acclaimed, they still have to earn a vote of confidence from their constituents by putting out their platforms. But by not having opposition, the acclaimed roles aren't challenged on their stances by anyone in the running and are allowed to talk about what they want to talk about without their opponent(s) forcing them to reveal their stance on more contentious issues.
I am glad that we have three slates running for USC president and vice-president. But to think that those are the only real roles that matter in the USC would be a mistake.
Faculty presidents are responsible for setting the direction of their council, which in turn votes on issues affecting your faculty; they don't just vote on which cool celebrity to bring to campus, but are also in charge of where the student donation fund you contribute to by being a part of that faculty goes, such as how $200,000 of the social science student donation fund will be used to renovate the Social Science Centre.
USC councillors approve the organization's nearly $20 million student fee among a host of other duties.
It's hard to know why so few students are running for student government this year, considering we have nearly 30,000 undergraduate students on campus. Is it the early elections? Lack of outreach to students? General apathy to student politics? Whatever it might be, it is still important that we engage with the candidates we do have to challenge them on their ideas and platforms.
But in the end, if it's not really an election then how can we expect students to be interested in voting?