Democratic Laryngitis:Dawson Students Silence Their Own Voices by Not Voting in the DSU By-Elections
By: Julia Bifulco
Ignoring the constant advertisement of the Dawson Student Union’s by-elections has been impossible for the past month or so. After the circulating petition called for the impeachment of several DSU members, only three of their nine executive members were left standing at the beginning of the semester.
The posters posted in the school and the DSU Elections Commission’s social media profiles shared the same tagline for the election: “Exercise your right to vote!”. The by-elections have been the biggest part of Dawson students’ conversations since their announcement .
Despite all this, no more than 399 students voted at the by-elections last month – and only 387 of these votes were counted as valid. In a school with over ten thousand people, this means that less than 4% of Dawson students voted, meaning that the opinions of the remaining 96% will not be considered in the new Dawson Student Union.
Past elections have also had low student turnout and participation as well. This is partly due to the lack of advertisement and awareness surrounding the elections. Lack of student involvement has always been a hurdle that the DSU has had to deal with during elections, but this has been learned to be expected with most activities on campus.
The by-elections this semester were effectuated efficiently despite its last-minute procedure. Dawson students were aware of each update facing both the candidates and the Elections Commission. After their finding of a new CEO, the Dawson Student Union was posting about the by-elections as early as February 4. From nominations to the candidate debate, students were able to follow the election’s each and every step. However, the amount of student participation was lower this semester than during past elections.
At the electoral debate, only a few dozen students showed up to meet the candidates and make their decisions concerning their votes. It is recommended that Dawsons be aware of who their representatives are. This is the best way for them to ensure the quality of their future Student Union.
Last semester, hundreds of students signed the petition calling for the impeachment of certain DSU members. The so-called “voice of the people” had not been speaking the people’s language and the students subsequently took charge of the situation. They wanted their rights as students to be recognized; their union didn’t represent their beliefs, so they no longer supported it.
It was simple enough for Dawson students to come together to achieve a not-so-simple goal such as impeaching DSU members. Nevertheless, every semester, their voices stay silent when they have the opportunity to make a change.
The DSU cannot be expected to meet and satisfy each and every student’s expectations and needs if less than 4% of the student body expresses their opinions. The Dawson student body has every right to file complaints if they feel their Student Union is inadequately performing, but they shouldn’t have to wait until the damage has been done to make progressive changes. The DSU Elections Commission has already begun to advertise the elections for next year’s executive members. Hopefully the number of voters will be much greater than that of the by-election; students’ right to vote for their representatives should be exercised to its fullest extent.