With each University of Manitoba Students Union (UMSU) election comes a flood of posters and candidates eagerly campaigning throughout the campus. But will this be enough to combat voter apathy amongst U of M students this year?
Students the Manitoban spoke with regarding awareness of 2012 UMSU elections had mixed views.
Derek Riel, a University 1 student, said that he has been made aware of the UMSU elections through posters and other campaigning materials, but said there may not be enough awareness about UMSU elections with some students.
“I haven’t heard a lot of my friends talking about anything to do with it,” he said.
Stefan Berube, a faculty of science student, said that voting is a good way to get your opinion heard, but this election is no different than other years.
“They are kind of the same format,” he said.
He said that in past years at the university he had noticed a fair amount of ads and definitely had been made aware of the elections, but this year he hadn’t seen information regarding the campaigns around the university.
Muckson Sesay, a faculty of science student, mentioned that he felt the previous UMSU elections had more momentum.
“This one to me is cold. Previous elections had more posters and bigger signs around the hallways,” Sesay said.
Michael Safiniuk, chief returning officer (CRO) for the 2012 UMSU general elections, told the Manitoban that his office has been doing whatever it can to get the message out to the student body, through the use of posters, a Facebook page and website.
Safiniuk said they have also been making use of UMSU list serves, which candidates have access to as well, but that he “cannot control if candidates are not doing it.”
“We set the stage for the candidates,” he said.
Safiniuk mentioned that student awareness about the UMSU elections is largely the responsibility of the candidates.
“Addressing students is part of the campaigning,” he said.
Part of the delays in postering throughout the campus may have been a result of issues with printers at the UMSU digital copy centre. Sheila Ross-Campbell, manager of the copy centre, said that printers at the centre were down for about a day during the beginning of the election campaign period, from the afternoon of Feb. 27 to Feb. 28.
Bilan Arte, an UMSU presidential candidate with the United slate, said that this caused a couple of days of delay in putting posters up.
Arte said that her slate has also been doing classroom talks, as they feel it makes an impact to have face-to-face conversations with students.
She mentioned that there were three slates running for the elections last year as compared to this year where there are only two slates and an independent candidate, but said there was no reduction in campaigning efforts.
Justin Paquin, candidate for vice president internal, with United, said that he felt the first week of campaigning was to inform students about the elections and the second week was to “make them decide.”
Paquin said that the Policy and Bylaws committee should look into more use of social media to raise awareness about UMSU elections. He said that social media is the primary way students communicate these days, so it is important to use it “to reach them effectively.”
Paquin added that volunteers for the United slate will start working and raising awareness during voting time.
“The most important time is the voting time, and that is when I want to use our resources,” he said.
Moazzam Faisal, a candidate for the international student representative position, said that students only know about the elections when “you go and talk to them.”
“I am making sure that I talk to as many students as I can,” he said.