Last year, only 6.9 per cent of the UBC Vancouver student body voted.
Ha-ha, but seriously.
That’s only 4,233 students out of the more than 60,000 student body. That means that despite being elected, your current representatives don’t represent most of you — they represent the seven per cent of you that gave enough of a damn to vote last year.
This is not intended to shame you in any way — the last two years have been overwhelming, scary and sad. Finding time to vote for your student government representatives when navigating a global pandemic or coping with an onslaught of racial and climate injustices is not a priority for most people. We get that.
But this year is different. Most people are back on campus. The whole world seems to be trying to return to normal while a pandemic is still raging and people are still dying every day from COVID-19. That makes your vote all the more important.
Last year showed, more than any other year that we’ve been at UBC, that student government matters. In the last year, your AMS, the student senators on the UBC Vancouver Senate and the student representatives on the Board of Governors have pushed hard for students.
They’re the reason why Proctorio was restricted across the university, why the drop date deadline was extended earlier this term, why some finals moved online at the end of the exam period in December, why students now have access to free KN95 masks, why you have $500 more for mental health coverage… we could go on. Whether you agreed with these decisions or not, it’s hard to deny that students had an impact.
This is not to be a celebratory piece for all the incumbents running this year — many of them have flaws and have made mistakes, and we aren’t afraid to point those out. But this year showed that what the student government does have a direct impact on students.
There are also this year’s referendum questions. If you happened to forget about them, we wouldn’t blame you — there weren’t any last year and the year before then feels like a lifetime ago.
Nevertheless, referenda are just as important to vote in as the other races on your ballot. If you care about how much you pay in fees, a few of the referendum questions this year allow you to decide on specific fee increases and fee reductions, as well as whether you can opt-out of certain fees digitally.
There is also a question on some bylaw and constitution changes which could have an impact on the AMS’s financial transparency.
If you didn’t vote last year, we get it. Not many people care as much as we do about all of this. After all, it’s our job to keep up and keep you informed. So it’s also our duty to tell you to vote.
Less than seven per cent of the student body voting does not result in a representative democracy. And there’s no benefit to not being properly represented.
So this year, find the time to vote. Take the time to translate your angry Reddit comments and venting sessions with your friends about the AMS and UBC into action.
Voting is open until March 11 here.
Charlotte Alden and Nathan Bawaan are The Ubyssey's news editors.