The New And Improved Dawson Elections’ Commission
By Hannah Lazarus
The last DSU elections took place exactly a year ago. Although the Dawson Elections Commission had invested more than enough time and energy into their campaign, only 13.2% of Dawson students voted, which amounted to a total of 1,344 ballots. This has been a cause for concern for the new Dawson Elections’ Commission team and they have taken it upon themselves to aim for a larger turnout this year.
Margarita Coulson, CEO of the Dawson Elections’ Commission, stresses that a key element of achieving their goal is getting the word out through social media, which was not the case in previous years. “We are trying to increase our voter turnout by upping our presence on social media where we can give Dawson Students immediate responses and updates regarding the Election,” she says. “Therefore, come voting time, they feel prepared and know enough to make a conscious vote.”
Another way team members have decided to try to increase voter turnout has been by setting up promotion tables that serve to remind students to vote, to educate them on the DSU, and to show the impact they have on the school. They also have free popcorn at some of these promotion tables as a way to encourage students to follow the Dawson Elections’ Commission’s social media and ask questions.
The latest idea the current election team has come up with is the Election Fair. This event was created as an opportunity for candidates to present their platforms in person to students. According to Coulson, the event was successful: “We set up several tables and chairs with easels for candidates to campaign and interact with students. We think it was successful as it was a first-time event; obviously we think there can be things improved on, as we had booking issues, but students were able to see photos of candidates, ask them questions, and find out what they represent.”
In addition to changing the style in which students could interact with candidates, they have also made changes to the debate style format. The new debate style includes couches placed on the stage, wireless microphones so the audience can hear more easily, and free food. This creates an environment where students feel comfortable to approach the candidates.
During the by-elections’ debate, only around 30 to 40 students attended, and Coulson attributed this to students who are “not aware how important it is to have a union or to know what the DSU does.” This time around, after consistently promoting the debate for the elections through social media, the turnout almost doubled. Not only did the amount of students increase, but all of the candidates were present at the debate, except for Aya Chkirate, who was absent due to being ill.
Coulson and the nine other members of the Dawson Elections’ Commission have been working day and night, trying to create a student body that is aware of the importance of their vote. “We are all volunteers, and more than half of us barely knew each other at the start of this,” she said. “The only thing that tied us all together was that we wanted to help make our school better. And really, Dawson students won't know that. But these students worked so hard to make this election become more transparent and more public to students. I really hope that students appreciate that.”