Vote, right in their face. Photo: Eric Davison.
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Yeah, you’ll probably be disenfranchised, but you should go anyway

If there’s one thing you can’t count on, it’s the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO). The SFUO will be holding a General Assembly (GA), wherein undergraduate students will be able to exercise their democratic rights and vote on important motions, that is, if the SFUO doesn’t take away their voting cards again.

Although the fall General Assembly is set for Dec. 3 according to the Facebook event, any information surrounding the assembly (including its date and location) is still absent from the SFUO’s website at the time of this article’s publication. Classic SFUO.

Many are left wondering why they should go to the GA in the first place, especially since the motion to make the GA the highest governing body still hasn’t been ratified by the Board of Administration. According to an email from Paige Booth, the SFUO’s acting-president, the motion “now has to go through the constitutional committee to be integrated into the constitution. It will be presented at this Sunday’s BOA meeting to pass through the first reading.”

Does choosing to attend the GA mean you’re advocating for the SFUO? No. It means that you will continue to hold the SFUO accountable until the referendum vote. It means you continue to recognize the power, impact, and $28.77 the SFUO still has of yours. It means that until you get the change you want, whatever that may be, you will show up to the ballot box, you will show up to their offices and you will go to the GA.

Even if that means abstaining from voting on motions. Even if that means asking a question that’s kind of out of order for Robert’s Rules. Even if that means watching the livestream from home. Because even though the student union may change after the referendum, the democratic process and procedure won’t.

A big part of the reason why we were stuck with the United slate and the scandal we’ve experienced over the past year, have been due to the lack of voter turnout in the SFUO election. We had an opportunity, a solution, to the years of scandal that the U of O students faced. And yet Rizki Rachiq won against Philippe Garcia-Duchesne with 166 of the votes.

It’s easy to drag the SFUO from a distance, to pretend like we had nothing to do with it. That we didn’t contribute to the mess of scandals by staying home instead of voting. Why go when you’ll be disenfranchised anyway, right? Wrong. Go to the GA, hold the SFUO accountable, do your job as an undergraduate student and make them do their jobs while they’re still holding them.

It should also be noted that this GA, which allows students to have a voice in governance, was voted on as an emergency motion in the last BOA meeting, when they realized that, as part of the constitution, there needs to be a GA every semester before exam period.

That’s right, your democratic participation was an afterthought.