By: Razan Abujarad
As the presidential campaign season has come to an end and students have elected their new MSU president, here are a few points on why I think that student politics are preparing us for the real stuff.
While many students (including myself) are not thrilled about the fact that the MSU president is getting paid for a whole year out of the pockets of students, I believe that there is a justifiable reason.
From an outward perspective, a few analogies can be made between student politics and actual politics.
The very framework within the MSU functions is a democracy, in which, the president is elected by the people for the people by a majority vote. If none of the candidates have the majority vote, multiple rounds of elimination based on the number of votes take place until there are two candidates left standing.
The reason students vote for a certain candidate over another is decided based on the promises that the candidate in their campaign platforms made during the campaign period.
Although there are no political parties in student politics, students compare the candidates based on their presidential platforms and vote according to the candidate they agree most with.
Similarly, citizens and residents vote for a candidate based on their political experience and policies in government elections.
The very framework within the MSU functions is a democracy, in which, the president is elected by the people for the people by a majority vote
When a candidate is elected to become a representative for the student body, we, the constituents as the students and a part of the student union are contributing to the president’s salary and should recognize that as reason to vote.
This is comparable to the fact that as Canadian citizens or residents, we elect a prime minister and through payment of taxes, the prime minister can earn a salary in return for his service to the country.
In addition, the campaign team at university is the equivalent of the campaign team during federal elections.
The most valuable aspect of these elections is that student elections give us the opportunity to exercise our right to vote. Many first years are not yet 18 and are therefore inexperienced and not eligible to vote in provincial and federal elections.
The fact that students do not practice their right to vote brings an overwhelming disappointment. Getting involved in the MSU presidential election this year has opened my eyes to the bigger picture. People have been fighting for their right to make decisions about who governs the population and the fact students are neglecting it is deeply saddening.
Voter turnout for the 2017 MSU Presidential election was 41.6 per cent, as well as a 7.3 per cent abstinence abstention rate. These numbers imply that many students chose to not vote in any form, even simply to abstain.
Some may argue that having the right to vote includes having the right to abstain from voting, while this is true but would imply that one simply uninterested about whom they are governed by which eventually may prove to be problematic.
In Jason Brennan’s book, The Ethics of Voting, he states, “Voting changes the quality, scope and kind of government. The way we vote can help or harm people. Electoral outcomes can be harmful or beneficial, just or unjust.”
Simply put, whether a voting member decides to vote or abstain, they will become directly responsible for the resulting decision that will be made.
Each vote counts because each vote represents a voice in the matter which can recursively add up to create a bigger impact than anticipated.
For those who cannot find the incentive to vote, you must take into consideration what would happen if the majority of members did not vote and what the consequences would be.
On the scale of student politics, an example of the consequences could be inflation of meal prices instead of the reduction that was promised by a candidate who you didn’t vote for.
As members of an organization such the McMaster Students Union, we have a responsibility to ensure to voice our opinion on important matters such as who governs us as well as the referendas that are taken. Most likely the referendas will have a direct impact on our tuition fees which we must consider carefully.
Remember, a candidate will represent you whether you are voting for a student body president, the next mayor in city hall or the prime minister of Canada, the candidate will represent us as a union.
So vote when you have the chance, vote for the candidate you agree with, vote for the platform you approve of the most, because a vote is much more powerful than we take it to be.