CSU fall by-election period has begun

Nomination period will run from Oct. 2 to Oct. 27

Graphic Panos Michalakopoulos

Twenty-two council seats are up for grabs as the Concordia Student Union’s (CSU) Fall 2023 by-elections officially launch.

The election will be split into three periods: the nomination period, which ends on Oct. 2; the campaign period, which runs from Oct. 30 to Nov. 6, and the polling period, which runs from Nov. 7 to Nov. 9.

According to CSU Chief Electoral Officer Ikjot Singh, the nomination phase is when students make it known that they will run for seats on the council. “That’s when we figure out who’s going to run for the elections,” he said. “By the campaign phase, everything is figured out. We will know how many candidates are running and we will know how many for each faculty.”

The student turnout rate in the CSU fall by-elections has been low in the past few years, with a 5.7 percent turnout rate in 2022 and a 21.1 percent turnout rate in 2021.

Hendrale Gressel, a third-year physics student,  shared that she has never voted in a CSU election, but would be interested in learning more about them. “I wasn’t aware of the elections coming up,” said Gressel. “I think the emails get lost in my inbox.”

The CSU’s general coordinator, Harley Martin, thinks the COVID-19 pandemic is partly to blame for low student engagement, as it eradicated campus life for a few years. “In my opinion, there is a real passing of knowledge of people being able to bring others into something as they are leaving. I think that is why we are seeing such low engagement, even post-COVID, it’s because that transmission of things has been lost.” 

Singh agreed with Martin, saying, “with the pandemic, there was a disconnect with students coming in. Most students don’t really know what the CSU is, let alone know what the elections are for.”

The CSU’s Council of Representatives essentially acts as the union’s board of directors, representing students and holding executives accountable. They have the power to pass mandates, change CSU policies and approve its budget. Filling vacant Council seats is not the only purpose of the elections, many bring forth referendum questions, such as fee levy increases or questions of importance.

Singh believes this is one of the key reasons to get involved. “The CSU is going to take money from your tuition every year, regardless of whether you vote or not, so you might as well have a say in what they’re doing with it.”

Sabrina Tardy, a third-year science student,  finds it important to vote in the elections. “When there is an option, I like to vote for people who seem to have more of an interest. I vote for people who seem to truly believe in what they are doing,” Tardy said.

To learn more about the candidates, students can attend or watch the livestream of the public debate on Nov. 1, as well as read each candidate's biography when voting.

Martin finds it important for students to participate in campus life. “It's exciting to get to participate in these things, but it’s not exciting if you don’t know why those things matter,” he said. “Whether the student body is something you generally care about or not, it is something to at least look into a little bit and be aware of.”

The polling period, where students will be able to vote for candidates of their choice, will run from 9 a.m. on Nov. 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 9. Students can vote online on the platform Simply Voting, either on their personal devices or at various polling stations across both campuses.

This article originally appeared in Volume 44, Issue 4, published October 17, 2023.