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A quick sideways glance at the news is enough to remind everyone about the ongoing political reckoning outside. Tired and angry citizens all around the world want rights and liberties promised to them by their governments in so-called democracies. In addition, the global pandemic brought on by COVID-19 has made it evident that some world leaders are more competent and more likely to care about the well being of their residents than others.

Amongst the chaos of the current situation, it is fair to say that the world’s focus has remained on the U.S. presidential elections scheduled for November of this year, where many wait impatiently to see what will happen to the 4-year legacy of the Trump administration, which, so far, has been covered in scandals and blatant denial of scientific facts. As difficult as it has been to look away from our neighbours to the south, people are getting ready to cast their votes in the Canadian provincial elections, as well as in the fast approaching UBC SUO’s by-elections for Director at Large and Faculty Representatives for Applied Science, Management, and Sciences, which are just as relevant, if not more.

Preceded by Thanksgiving Monday, the voting for by-elections begins on Tuesday October 13th, and closes on Thursday October 15th. Hosted by CRO Tyleigh and DRO Maya, the debates for these by-elections took place on the 8th of October virtually, over Zoom, and were attended by a few students who brought up questions and concerns for the candidates to answer (watch it here if you missed it). A few candidates were absent from the debate, and while the current virtual world brings its own challenges with it, this does make the democratic process this year a worrisome one. The technical difficulties of the debate itself were an addition to the ones addressed by the candidates, about maintaining connections, financial struggles, and what community means for new students at UBC Okanagan this particular year. Your vote matters this year more than ever. The cards that we have been dealt with are far from ideal, but making the right decision can make the future easier to confront.

Tuition worries, climate change, systemic racism against BIPOC, and a generally exhausting social and political climate are only some of the issues most students are dealing with, in addition to online learning in a global pandemic. Making a decision about the organisation that will represent the student body and dictate what your experience at university will entail for the near future, is a right and a privilege. Voting for the ideal candidate means exercising this right to choose for the one that you believe is best equipped to deal with the challenges we face - someone who is assertive, competent, a great leader, and is able to face criticism with the intent to change what is not working.

If you have not voted in the elections for the UBCSUO before, this is the year to do it. Low voter turnouts in the past have meant that the representatives on the board are not the true voices of the student body and that the democratic election process put in place has not been utilised to its maximum potential. It is our responsibility, and the power to create real change is in our hands. Regardless of whether your grievances have been personal, or if it is a systemic transformation that you would like to see, your vote matters. Watch the debate and learn about the candidates. Who makes you feel seen? Who is truly passionate about the Student’s Union and is not there for personal gain alone? This year, while the world is changing around us, be an active part of your history, and the legacy of UBC Okanagan. Remember to vote.

The by-election for Director at Large and Faculty Representatives for Science, Management, Applied Science, begins 13th of October and ends 15th of October. Cast your vote online through UBC WebVote here, or find it along with the debate on the UBCSUO website at