Photo: CC, Mohamed Hassan.
Reading Time: 2 minutes

This past academic year has been a garbage fire. From the dissolution of the Student Federation of the University of Ottawa (SFUO) to the uncertainty of student services under the Ford government’s 2019-20 academic plan, students have had it rough.

But today, you have a chance to make your voice heard. You don’t even need to leave your house. The U of O admin will send a link straight to your email account with instructions on how to vote online.

From Feb. 8 to Feb. 11, U of O students will have a chance to pick between the SFUO, or the University of Ottawa Students’ Union (UOSU), a new group that formed after the SFUO’s contract terminated with the university administration. The vote will decide which organization will represent student interests as the U of O’s official undergraduate student union.

Over the last few months, there have been countless meetings, investigations, protests, debates, and memes regarding the situation we’re in now. It’s easy to laugh it off as just another year full of student union scandals at the U of O, but this referendum is unprecedented.

The university’s decision to terminate their contract with the SFUO was monumental, and while there are still elements of the termination and what will follow that remain unclear, giving students the option to choose a new union altogether is an opportunity for a clean slate, and students should take it.

We got here by caring too little too late. The SFUO’s general assemblies have a tradition of not meeting quorum, and the only time they have is when there was a controversial motion on the agenda.

But wouldn’t it be nice not to have a scandal for once? Wouldn’t it be nice to show up because we actually care about the policies and services that we’ve been taking for granted?

It’s time for students at the U of O to start being more involved in the democratic processes that directly impact both their lives and their education. In the 2014 general SFUO election, for example, just over 10 per cent of students voted, an embarrassingly low number. Squaring this number with the over 57 per cent of people aged 18 to 24 who voted in the 2015 federal election proves we can—and should—do better.

In the end, we’re not here to dictate who you vote for. It doesn’t matter if you want to save the SFUO, or start fresh with the UOSU. What matters most of all is that you actually vote.