Elections: A Popularity Contest
April 7th, 2018
As almost every UBCO student knows, the end of February and the beginning of March signals election time; a period where free food is frequently available, posters pop up at every corner, and Facebook blows up with platform posts. For the past year, there’s been a large focus on reforming the Student Union. Students have been calling for transparency, questioning where our money goes, and holding the elected representatives accountable. Many candidates paid attention to this and ran campaigns based on reform and transparency. Yet, the SUO elections, year after year, are less of a political campaign, and more a popularity contest.
This year’s elections are a good example of what I mean. While candidates did campaign on well thought-out platforms, as a voter it seemed they relied more on spreading their name than spreading their platform; free food in the courtyard, countless posts on Facebook, countless posts by friends spouting off how good of a person their friend is, posters at every single corner, and if you happen to be Facebook friends with a candidate, direct messages imploring you to vote. These serve the purpose of making an individual popular and making the name stick in the brain of voters; however, when you’re running for transparency, communication, engagement, and passion (all words taken straight from candidate bios on The Phoenix News), using popularity is basically a direct contradiction to your platform. Candidates should be voted in because the students support their platform, not because the student remembered them from the Facebook posts, messages, and posters.
This year, a student at UBCO summed up many student’s feelings when they posted in the UBC Okanagan Class of 2020 Facebook page about how candidates post too much with too little substance. They recommended adding detail to the platform rather than posting and posting and posting. The post was liked, loved, and reacted to 92 times, with other students commenting in agreement. Clearly, the SUO elections are not making many people happy, and the main criticism comes from this focus on popularity.
The SUO, as many know, does not have the best record of accomplishment. There have been scandals, there has been sketchy issues with finances, and so on. UBCO does not need more representatives without a strong platform, a clear idea of what they want to accomplish, and a goal of accomplishing those things. As per the election results, the new SUO will hopefully work towards a better functioning union, and a union dedicated to making student life better.