It can be hard to get excited about elections for the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). And after last year’s election saw many issues, including miscounting votes, it’s understandable that you might not be thrilled about going into another potentially tumultuous election season.
But this year will be an interesting year—and not for negative reasons.
For starters, the SFUO is going through a significant restructuring next year, with the roles of all the executive positions being shifted around. It will be the first time anyone is doing the jobs with these specific roles, so students have a chance this election to make sure they pick the best people for these new jobs.
However, even if you want to vote, it can be a chore wrapping your head around different candidates and issues. Adding to the difficulty of the situation is that there’s no year-long media campaign to get to know all the key players—we only find out the candidates two weeks before voting days.
As it turns out, in about as much time as it takes to binge watch five episodes of Black Mirror on Netflix you can know everything you need to about the candidates. And you still have time, since voting doesn’t start until Feb. 7.
The first thing to do is check out a debate. There are two debates this coming week, on Jan. 31 and Feb. 1. The candidates for each executive position will be debating various policy questions related to their desired role, so not only do you get a sense of who these people are and what they want to do, but you get to see exactly how their approaches differ.
There are also a lot of people running for executive positions this year—13 candidates for six positions, to be exact—so if you find you don’t like a given candidate based on what you’ve seen, you have options.
Now, at the same time, there will be an election for student seats on the university’s Board of Governors (BOG).
This has nothing to do with the SFUO, but the BOG is the body that decides if your tuition is going to go up. Students only make up three votes out of 33, but they can also talk to other board members to try and convince them on issues like tuition, and they can put forward motions.
And finally, there are the elections for faculty directors on the SFUO’s Board of Administration (BOA). I’m sure you’re bored of boards already, but there is one thing to keep in mind. When making SFUO policy, the executives only have a total of six votes and the rest of the board has over 20. So when the BOA is voting on motions, the executive will be a small part of it.
The BOA also often reviews motions from General Assemblies that don’t meet quorum.
Nobody is saying the BOA races are particularly exciting, but they are more important than people think (a low bar, but still).
And if you want to make sure the best people possible are making decisions on education policy at the university, then don’t forget about the Senate candidates.
It’s a lot to keep track of. Luckily, you can pick the issues you want to see the most change in, and get all the information you need relatively easily.
So don’t toss out the idea of getting to know the SFUO elections a little. It turns out they can be a fine way to procrastinate on your schoolwork.