September 24, 2020

BY JOSH BURY

Whenever someone is denied a vote, whether accidentally or on purpose, it should be a matter of concern for everyone in that electorate.

The issue that prevented some students from voting in the Conestoga Students Inc. board of directors election appears to be an accident.

Some students did not receive an email with a link to vote on March 24. The issue was supposedly completely resolved after consultation with IT, but there are reports of students who still never received the email, even after the supposed resolution.

We don’t know the exact number of students who never received an email to vote for next year’s board of directors, but anecdotal and personal evidence abounds that the issue is more widespread than we have been led to believe.

My evidence is personal, in that I was one of the people who didn’t receive an email. I sent my concerns to CSI. I am an eligible, full-time student. I never opted out of survey emails – the multitude of emails that contain Survey Monkey links sitting in my inbox from various sections of the college can attest to that.

Despite all that, I wasn’t given a chance to vote. It turned out that the email was sent to a work address at the school that I didn’t even know I had and had never logged in to.

And would my singular vote have made a difference?

Actually, yes, it could have. Exactly one vote separated the eighth director, Alice Lee, from Michelle Graves, her nearest competitor. Graves herself had only one more vote than candidates Zoey Ross and Carol Stares.

But whether or not I would have voted for any of these candidates is irrelevant.

The point is, I paid my fees to CSI and was given no opportunity to help select that government in an extremely close decision. And I’m not alone. Candidates who ran for the position were able to confirm that other students were in the same boat as I: they never received an email. Maybe they also have work emails that they aren’t aware of.

I’ve spent much of the year following the political situation within CSI – at first, because it was my mandated “beat.” But after a short time, it was because I came to believe that student politics are genuinely interesting, socially intriguing and, above all, extremely important.

What students often don’t realize about CSI is that it is responsible for a multimillion-dollar budget. The budget published earlier this year by CSI for this year projects expenditures of over $6 million.

That budget is controlled by the students we elect. And every full-time, fee-paying student should have their say on who will control it.
Finally, this year has seen a tremendous upswing in student political engagement at Conestoga College. If the board wants to accomplish its stated goal of improving school spirit for next year, it needs to continue this trend.

It should make sure that no voter who wants to cast a ballot is left out of the vote next year, and that means not only fixing the bugs in the balloting process, but issuing a full statement on why some people were not able to vote this year.

The right to vote must be fiercely protected by CSI, and lapses in that right must be addressed.

To do otherwise would be to treat students as little more than an income source who can vote only if it is convenient for their beneficiaries to allow it.

Leave a Reply