C/O Travis Nguyen, Photo Editor
President-elect Simranjeet Singh discusses this year’s low voter turnout and his hopes to rebuild student engagement with the MSU
On Jan. 27, after a three-day election period, Simranjeet Singh was announced as the president-elect of the McMaster Students Union, winning 65.7 per cent of the votes.
Out of 27, 149 eligible voters, only 3,107 students, or 11.4 per cent of the eligible student population, chose to cast their votes. According to Singh, the online nature of the campaigning period may have contributed to the low voter turnout.
“When I, for example, gave class talks, it probably wasn’t as impactful [as in-person class talks] just because of the nature of how online courses are delivered,” said Singh.
However, Singh also noted that the voter turnout for MSU elections has been trending downwards for a few years, even prior to the onset of the pandemic.
“Even though 2020 and 2018, for example, were only two years apart and they were both in a pre-pandemic landscape, there was still a vast difference in voter turnout,” said Singh.
Singh explained that the decline in voter turnout may be due to a disconnect between the programming offered by the MSU and the needs of the students.
“I certainly hope that with some of the changes I hope to bring forth, we can ensure that students are receiving the services and resources they need, and then hopefully are more engaged,” said Singh.
According to Singh, helping students to better engage with and understand the MSU is one of his key priorities. Singh highlighted how students are often not aware of which services are offered by the MSU or how to access them. This is a problem that he hopes to address in his term as president.
“Because we have such a low engagement, there’s a disconnect that exists between what [students’] needs are and what the MSU is able to accomplish. And I hope, if we can change that, we can set ourselves on a path where students are more aware of what MSU services [there] are and the MSU is better able to actually serve their needs,” said Singh.
Aside from hoping to increase student engagement, Singh stated that he also hopes to create lasting change within the MSU, making an impact that will be noted by students in years to come.
“I hope that the impact that I have is big enough that people can look back in a few years or next year and say ‘this was a turning point,’” said Singh.
As well, Singh emphasized his intentions to work with community partners and levels of government beyond McMaster. Singh explained that, in forming these relationships, he hopes to ensure that student advocacy is received and acted upon.
However, Singh recognized that not all of his campaign points are equal in scope.
“I think I’ll have to balance between trying to understand what is a goal that I can accomplish quite quickly and immediately, and what is a goal that I know will take many years to do, but that I can make significant progress on,” said Singh.
Overall, Singh emphasized his intention to make a lasting positive impact on the MSU over the course of his term, highlighting the importance of considering student voices in this process. He stated that throughout his campaign he had heard the opinions of a variety of students, which was important for understanding what kinds of changes need to be made.
“The questions [students] asked, the concerns they had, the feedback and critiques they gave of my campaign points, what they felt I could do better and where I could improve. . .that was a very, very insightful experience, and I really hope to take some of that feedback and actually apply it,” said Singh.
Starting May 1, Singh will officially take office as MSU president for the 2022-2023 year.