It seems that every SU election season sees at least a couple of positions won by acclamation. While choosing to run for student office is demanding and definitely taking a step outside of your comfort zone, I can only imagine the tiniest bit of relief that must be felt when the position you’re running for is uncontested. Sure, it saves a lot of trouble doing big classroom talks and putting up posters around campus — maybe not so much these days — however it also doesn’t help making those genuine connections with the student community on why you wanted to run in the first place.
According to a report to the Board of Governors from the University of Calgary’s Students’ Union, the last election’s voter turnout saw 22 per cent of undergraduate students casting their ballots last March. The report claims that the turnout at U of C “continues to be among the highest for student association elections in Canada,” it’s also important to remember that very few positions were acclaimed last year. As a result, more people were out connecting with students and campaigning around the university than in years prior. And while the global pandemic continues on, making campaigning a little different, it is crucial now more than ever to engage with students and let them know who will be representing them in future.
Which is why I think the new impending vote to implement a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote in the 2022 SU election is long overdue. It seems like the best way to really allow individuals pursuing a role in student government to interact with the student population and to ensure that students know who will be advocating for them and what ideas will be put forward on a certain platform. It gives students agency, even if a position is uncontested. It’s also been something the Gauntlet has been writing about for a while now.
In a news article from 2002, Gauntlet staff explored the criticisms around acclamations and the encouragement of an apathetic voting population when acclamations were introduced to the university in 1996. In an opinions article from the same year, we also mentioned the “astounding array of acclamations” suggesting an added frustration along with the online voting malfunction that also occurred. A 2019 article also expressed how acclamations result in a lack of engagement from the student population, and even yours truly took a stab at mentioning how acclamations don’t allow for candidates to interact with the people they will represent.
This — hopefully — new direction where a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote will be implemented gives students the opportunity and the choice to vote for a candidate, even though they may be the only one running. While this election will still see the use of acclamations, it is refreshing to see movement towards something that will make even lone candidates more accountable for the platforms they run on. I’m sure the editors of Gauntlet’s past would also agree that this decision has been long overdue.
I mean, we’ve been saying it for years, but we’ll try not to act so smug about it.
—Cristina Paolozzi, Gauntlet editorial board