On October 26th, UBC Okanagan’s Senate was finally filled with the appointment of four new senators. Lindsay Farrugia and Nishat Tasnim are now Representatives of the Graduate Students, Leo Tan is the new Student Representative of the Faculty of Health & Social Development, and Laurence Watt joins the Senator-At-Large team.
Usually senators are elected by students at the end of the spring semester but due to a combination of dropouts and free space on the senate, the new senators were appointed by the UBC Okanagan Student Union Board of Directors.
Despite the new appointments, it is concerning that so few students got involved in university politics compared to previous years. For instance, in this year’s election, there were more than a dozen positions available that went uncontested including the openings for President, VP Finances and VP External. Furthermore, no Senate Faculty Representatives were elected for the Faculties of Education or Health and Social Development as no students ran for those positions. This is in contrast to the 2014 elections in which three candidates ran for President and every position available had at least one contender.
However, according to past numbers, for the most part UBCO students have never really been incredibly engaged in student politics. Almost every one of the university’s annual elections has seen a voter turn out of around 10–15 percent of the student body. Currently the 2011–2012 year holds the record for voter turn out with only 25% of the student body.
Although the senate is finally full and ready to operate efficiently, the lack of student engagement in university politics raises a pressing question: should something be done to encourage more students to become engaged with politics on campus?