Op-ed: Your vote has power — use it


Along with buzzwords like “transparency” and “engagement,” this word seems to always come up during AMS Elections, and this year is no different.

We vote for our student government and pay our university tuition, and expect fair treatment from both in return. In a year when it feels like these institutions didn't listen to students on issues like food security, health care or tuition, it can seem like voting doesn't produce real change.

But, your vote has the power to solve, or at least reduce, discontent with UBC and the AMS.

Students have a choice to make this year: either stick it through with status quo votes and incumbents or pick a new path paved by first-time “outsider” candidates who outnumber returning candidates in this year’s elections.

In the races for AMS exec positions, three of the five races have a candidate who is currently working in the AMS. And in some of these races, the non-AMS candidate could win.

Over in the Senate races, few incumbents are running for reelection. For the Board of Governors, no incumbents are running.

And though there is the potential for fresh blood in the governance bodies at UBC, there’s also the potential for stagnation, with some incumbents jumping from one governing body to another.

But the point still stands: students will be electing a wave of fresh faces this year.

And a single vote can sway an election — we’ve seen underdog candidates come close to winning thanks to students coming out to vote in the past.

While uncontested candidates might seem like a shoo-in — and this year there are a few after a bunch of candidates dropped — students have the power to vote ‘no’ if they don’t believe these candidates will represent them well or are up to the job.

Though voting ‘no’ seems counterintuitive since it would mean having a by-election at a later date, it could create opportunities for more qualified candidates to enter the race, for candidates who represent you to enter the race.

This year’s elections are all about pushing for change — change that your vote has a major stake in. And the strength of your vote doesn’t just end with electing your representatives, but with referenda items that will impact students across campus for decades to come.

Two referendum questions are related to the AMS/GSS Health & Dental Plan: one asking to raise the fee by around $52 to maintain the same level of coverage and another to raise the fee by $8 to include gender-affirming care under the plan. The gender-affirming care item is conditional on the other increase passing.

Another question is on raising the Bike Kitchen fee by $3 to ensure the service can continue to operate after this same referendum failed last year. The last item is on AMS bylaw changes, including the addition of an Indigenous Constituency.

Whether or not you agree with one, all or none of these questions, the fact remains that these items passing or not will have direct impacts on students’ daily lives, particularly their health care. You have the power to keep you and your friends’ extended mental health coverage and to bring gender-affirming care coverage to UBC, among other things.

Voting is a way that you can elect people who will actually listen to students on the issues they care about.

Regardless of where you stand on the issues, we strongly encourage you to go out and vote.

Nathan Bawaan is the web news editor and Anabella McElroy is the print news editor at The Ubyssey.