Posted in Opinions, Top Opinions

Pay attention to the SFSS or pay up

The SFSS byelection should serve as a wake-up call for students

Image Credits: Charlotte Steele

If you thought that election talk couldn’t get any worse, I’ve got some news for you: the SFSS is at it again, with another election in our midst.

On October 17, the upcoming Simon Fraser Student Society (SFSS) presidential byelection’s nomination period opened up, meaning that we’re in for another round of student elections to fill the presidential vacancy left by Deepak Sharma in June of this year. His departure is owed to what can only be described as a gross misunderstanding between himself and the SFSS.

A few months ago, we found ourselves in a similar situation: told to go out, vote, and make a difference in our school community. But making this “difference” ultimately just raised more questions and concerns about what goes on behind the closed doors of the SFSS.

Of the three candidates running, I feel that current VP student services Larissa Chen is by far the most qualified. In fact, she currently holds the position of interim president. Having already become familiar with the job, wouldn’t she be the best choice?

For reasons that haven’t been made known, though, Chen decided not to take the permanent position and to wait for a byelection. It’s clear that Chen’s serious about this presidency, too, because she resigned from her SFSS position in order to focus all of her attention on this byelection.

Here’s my question for the candidates: why? Why put us through this all over again, if doing so wasn’t even necessary?

There seems to be a disconnect between the SFSS, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), and the voting SFU public, which explains our apathy to the issues present in our student politics. During the first of three candidate debates, there were no SFU students present. Absolutely none.

This particular example of student complacency probably wouldn’t have occurred if candidate names were released as soon as the campaigning period opened up, and before advertising the debates. Who plans to attend a political debate without knowing who’s running?

I know that I’m in no position to point fingers about not caring, as I admittedly only voted in the last election because a WebSurvey was sent to my inbox. But the IEC’s approach seems very casual and haphazard, making it difficult for us to keep up or even begin to care.

However, we shouldn’t be so detached, because the reality is that the SFSS controls our student life and our money. This is our university experience that we’re talking about, and every time we don’t vote, we let the SFSS’ mistakes slip through unchecked.

We need to start asking questions, because approximately $10,000 was spent on this election in the spring. There’s potential for another large sum to be spent on an election that we could have avoided if the SFSS’ policies were made externally and internally clear, if those policies were followed, or if, failing that, Chen took the position when it was offered to her on a silver platter.

This byelection should serve as a wake-up call to all students to pay attention to what’s going on, get out, and vote. We need to be more critical of the issues so we can keep those who represent us accountable.

As much as you may roll your eyes at the sound of another election, on November 15, click that WebSurvey. There’s nothing much else we can do now with the impending election upon us, but we can make it known that we don’t want to see fumbles like this ever again. If we sit idly by, we’ll continue to let mediocrity take its course.