Back in April, UFV’s Student Union Society (SUS) held their annual elections. They were probably not the most exciting elections in SUS history — president and vice-president went uncontested, with the previous two running again. . However, the vice president external and vice president students each had two contenders, and each with different visions for the role. That was where the election’s main point of interest lay, so when the election closed I watched and waited for those results to come in.
Voting closed April 12. I imagine the results were compiled within a few days at most, given that the voting was electronic and there weren’t paper ballots to count. I was keeping a close eye on SUS’s social media and website, or for an email from them, because I’m part of The Cascade’s social media team, and wanted to make sure we had a post congratulating the new SUS team.
I never made that post, because I never saw the results.
Fast-forward to August. I’ve been curious about the election results since April — that kind of slow, percolating curiosity where you wonder something, but not enough to send an email to those who could answer the question. The kind of curiosity that is likely the extent of most students’ level of interest in SUS, or most other organizations at UFV. But every time I’ve checked, I haven’t been able to find the answers.
Finally, as the fall semester is about to start, I found out the results. More than four months after I cast my vote, I just asked another editor at The Cascade who tends to be more directly involved in SUS affairs. Doing some digging, I also managed to find the names listed on the SUS website — not in the obvious location like the SUS Team page though, but on a page specifically about the elections, and in the executive reports. They’re there, but they’re not easy to find if you don’t know where to look.
Student engagement is difficult to achieve. There are thousands and thousands of students at UFV, and only a small fraction put any thought into aspects of the school beyond their classes. SUS struggles with this, The Cascade struggles with this, and just about every club struggles with this. But we also understand why. Everyone has a busy life, and the onus is on us to show students why they should care, not on students to come to that conclusion blindly.
By the looks of SUS’s elections page, only 654 people voted in the election. That’s not many at all, considering UFV’s student population of around 15,000. And that’s why it’s critical for all of us who are engaged in some wider aspect of UFV culture beyond our classes to make every effort to make what we do accessible, open, and most of all interesting to those students who don’t give us any thought. We all need to work hard on reaching out to that majority of students, and welcoming them into what our various organizations have to offer, or we’ll be stuck as an insular, cliquey group of a few hundred. When you’re immersed in that world every day, it’s easy to forget that most people aren’t.
That’s why it’s critical for SUS to announce the results of their elections publically, loudly, and quickly. That’s why it’s necessary to design for those with no previous knowledge of SUS to find within seconds of landing on their website. That’s why The Cascade needs to make sure we explain not just what happens, but why it happens and what it means. And I’ll admit, the lack of public results was a failing on us too. I should have sent those emails in April and made a post with the results as soon as possible.
We all dropped the ball. This year, let’s pick it back up and do better. Let’s make engaging at UFV the easiest part of the university experience.
Congrats to our new(ish) vice president external, Rajdeep Dhaliwal, and to our new vice president students, Sunny Cheema. Sorry about the delay.
Image: The Cascade