THE STUDENT COALITION for Political Awareness’s (SCPA) first meeting had seven members present, with some trying to Skype in despite a bad connection. Marika Dube, founder of the coalition, said though there aren’t many members, they are enthusiastic about their cause—educating students about the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) functions and promoting political awareness in the SFUO elections
“We are about 10–12 people for active involvement right now,” said Dubé in a phone interview with the Fulcrum. “We are trying to get people to know about us right now so we can get some volunteers, people involved in getting informed and informing others about what the SFUO is, what it’s doing, what [Canadian Federation of Students] is, and so on.”
In light of the SFUO elections taking place Feb. 14–16, Dubé felt she needed to help politically inactive students gain knowledge on the SFUO’s inner workings.åΩ
“What got me to start the SCPA was talking to some friends I have on campus from different programs—different backgrounds—some of whom are involved on campus while others aren’t,” said Dubé. “Most of them didn’t understand what the SFUO was doing for them. Most of them didn’t really understand how decisions were made at the SFUO—they didn’t know what CFS was, they didn’t know what was happening with the student politics at all.
“I didn’t understand why the SFUO didn’t do a more active job of informing students what they were there for,” she added. “So that’s why I decided it would be a good idea, especially during the elections, to be there on campus to inform students what the SFUO is doing and why it’s important to vote.”
SCPA set up a website, Cspecspa.wordpress.com, where they post information about previous SFUO elections, important election dates, and general voting for students. Dubé said more plans to get information out to students are in the works.
“We are thinking of ideas of videos we could make that are very neutral and just explaining what the SFUO is, what the CFS is, and what other universities are doing for voter turnout,” she said.
Dubé stressed SCPA is a non-partisan organization: The coalition is there to inform and involve students, not make the voting decision for them.
“We don’t really want to talk about the candidates; we’re not going to get into that,” said Dubé.
Although SCPA was created for the elections, Dubé said she would like the coalition to continue be present on campus afterward.
“The idea to be actively present was for the election period mostly,” she explained. “I think the coalition period should continue existing afterward, but the point is to get information out during the election.”