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Real change may be on the horizon for the U of O student union

Photo: Marta Kierkus

To the surprise of many, it looks like change might finally be coming to the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO).

The final results of the recent general election showed a refreshingly diverse student union for the 2015–16 school year, with the new SFUO comprising multiple political slates: Here for Us took the positions of president and vice-president of equity, Impact won finance and university affairs, and ABC took social.

Unlike previous years when the vast majority of SFUO members were on the same page about every topic, having execs with different political viewpoints can open up discussions and encompass a wider variety of ideas.

Some might suggest these conflicting ideologies could result in political gridlock and inaction, and they’re not wrong. However, this will have to be weighed against the idea that there is now a stronger possibility that the kind of irresponsible motions and campaigns of the past year can be stopped before they get out of hand.

Only time will tell if this shift in the campus political landscape is good or bad, but it would be quite difficult to do any worse than this year. The current administration has been plagued by scandals like vaguely racist campaigns, expensive misplaced fireworks, and an embarrassing tuition protest during the opening of our new Advanced Research Complex.

One would think that after these and many other mishaps the student body would have resorted to voting along uniform party lines out of apathy. As it turns out, students are finally ready for something different.

Still, one of the most confusing aspects about this recent election is that despite the amount of noticeable change, the number of people who came out to vote was virtually identical to last year. Both had a voter turnout of around 11 per cent.

It’s possible that this is due to a generational change in which older voters have moved on and the younger ones have decided to act. Or the student body could have simply got sick of the current administration and wanted to wipe the slate clean. In either case, I hope this is the beginning of a new era within our school, and that the new student union works towards forming connections within the student body and administration, instead of creating rifts as we have seen in the past.

Perhaps with the right people in power, the apathy felt by so many will dissipate and students can be proud of their union.