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Adopting a weighted voting system   Graduating students should not have equal influence on the outcome of McMaster Students Union elections and referenda

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Photo C/O Catherine Goce

By: Neda Pirouzmand

Graduating students should not have had an equal say on these decisions in comparison to returning students. As changes regarding student fees are implemented in the following academic year, graduating students will not be paying for them.

This line of reasoning can be extended to graduating students’ influence over the MSU presidential elections. The actions and views of the MSU president only become relevant during and following their transition period into office.

Chukky Ibe won the McMaster Students Union presidential election in 2017. In March of the same year, students passed a referendum to add $95 to their Athletics and Recreation Activity fee in order to build the Student Activity Building and expand the Pulse fitness area.

Last year, Ikram Farah’s winning election was accompanied by a referendum that reduced the Ontario Public Research Group’s funding at the university from $8.07 to $5.50 per student.

Josh Marando will officially take office in May. While he is currently in the process of transitioning into the role of MSU president, his responses to recent events, such as Doug Ford’s changes to the Ontario Student Assistance Program, and any future implementations will directly impact incoming and returning students.

At most, graduating students may be indirectly affected by the MSU’s advocacy efforts at the municipal, provincial and federal levels. This possible indirect impact still does not warrant graduating students to have as much influence as they currently possess.

An alternate system may involve weighting votes, where graduating students’ votes are weighted less than those of returning students. The logistics of the weighting amount could be decided by the MSU.

Those against changing the voting system may state that graduating students have unique and relevant experiences that allow them to make informed votes. Additionally, as graduating students pay the full MSU fee it can be argued that they have the right to exercise their vote.

These concerns could be addressed through adjusting the weight of votes from graduating students, rather than removing their vote altogether. If necessary, this could also be coupled with lowering the MSU fee for these students.

Would reweighting graduating students’ votes have changed past elections and referenda? This information is not publicly available and therefore no concrete conclusions can be drawn.

Elections should allow for a candidate to be selected who is in agreement with the majority of the relevant student population. Thus, the influence that graduating students have in this mix should be decreased.

Following this line of reasoning, incoming first-years should have a chance to vote. Many referenda and elections cannot accommodate this due to their timing in relation to admissions.

However, in some cases, this could be accomplished through implementing appropriate communication channels between incoming students and the MSU.

If this were to be pursued, it would need to be preceded by large-scale exposure and encouragement of voting in high school students.

Once April passes, graduating students will no longer fall under the umbrella of the MSU. As such, they should not influence future MSU decisions as much as they currently do.

 

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