DSU election: Lowest voter turnout in at least a decade

The 2014-15 DSU executive. (Photo by Amin Helal)

The brain trust of next year’s DSU: Ramz Aziz, Jennifer Nowoselski, Danny Shanahan, Jacqueline Skiptunis, Rebecca Haworth. (Photo by Amin Helal)

The results of this year’s Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) elections were announced Friday, Mar. 14. Ramz Aziz will return for a second year as an exec, this time as DSU president. He was elected with 55.6 per cent of the vote. Danny Shanahan was re-elected to the position of VP student life with a whopping 85.4 per cent of the vote. Jacqueline Skiptunis, incoming VP academic and external, won by acclamation and Jennifer Nowoselski will be the next VP internal, garnering 57.4 per cent of the vote.

Rebecca Haworth was elected to the position of Board of Governors representative with 56.9 per cent of the vote.

Meanwhile, the race for senate was declared void. Because there were only three people running for three positions, all were expected to win by default, but voters were only given the options of ‘Yes’ or ‘Spoil’ on their ballot. The rules however state that students must have the option to vote ‘No’.

For now, the elections committee hasn’t said how they’ll go forward. There is no mention in election policy of by-elections for non-executives.

Only 1,828 students, less than 11 per cent of the student body, voted this election. That’s a drop from last year’s 16.8 per cent and the lowest in at least a decade.

As for referendums, students have committed to an additional $10.05 in union dues for full-time students and $4.20 for part-time students each year. The most expensive referendum on the ballot, Student Union Building (SUB) renovations, failed with 65.5 per cent voting ‘No.’ This means that while the SUB renovations will go forward, they will no longer include an atrium.

The official results of the elections and referendums are below:

Total votes: 1828 (10.9% of eligible voters)


Ramz Aziz: 894 – 55.6%
Alexandra Killham: 714 – 44.4%
Spoil – 220

Vice President Internal

First Ballot:

Jennifer Nowoselski: 849 – 57.4%
Ian Heystee: 357 – 24.2%
Jessica Dempsey: 272 – 18.4%
Spoil – 350

Vice President Academic and External

Jacqueline Skiptunis

Yes: 1390 – 93.2%
No: 102 – 6.8%
Spoil – 336

Vice President Student Life

Danny Shanahan: 1249 – 85.4%
Didier Okende: 213 – 14.6%
Spoil – 366

Board of Governors

Rebecca Haworth: 883 – 56.9%
Taylor Quinn: 669 – 43.1%
Spoil – 276

Referendum Results

SUB Renovations

No – 65.5%
Yes – 34.5%

South House

Yes – 52.9%
No – 47.1%

Dalhousie Urban Garden Society

Yes – 57.9%
No – 42.1%


No – 61.3%
Yes – 38.7%


No – 59.5%
Yes – 40.5%

Equity and Accessibility Office

Yes – 56.7%
No – 43.3%

Dalhousie Campus Medical Response Team

Yes – 64.5%
No – 35.5%

Dalhousie Bike Centre

Yes – 56.8%
No – 43.2%

Dalhousie Gazette

Yes – 52.0%
No – 48.0%


  1. Jessica Dempsey on March 16, 2014 at 11:36 pm

    What the voter turnout shows is the executive did not do their jobs. This is shameful. I have been talking to pleanty of students who did not even know there was an election. Others were confused about the voting times.
    The online voting was confusing to state it lightly. The final election results event was sad. Plus there was no Canidates Karaoke this year, which sucks.
    Finally, I do not blame the CRO or the Elections Committee. My grade letter for the executive on elections this year is an F.

  2. Disgrutled dal student on March 20, 2014 at 5:13 pm

    Here’s the reality of the situation: the DSU NEEDS a public facelift. If there’s anything the DSU needed, and maybe could have used from the additional funds after the train wreck of an effort to opt out of CASA and SNS, it’s a good PR staff.

    The simply fact of the matter is that people don’t give a shit because the DSU has not made any meaningful effort to make their contributions to the community directly clear. A small DSU logo on a few signs isn’t going to cut it. People don’t know what’s going on with the DSU because of their lacklustre attempts to break out of the closed-circle of what’s going on internally. Not to mention how hilariously bad marketing for the election is.

    I am a student who knows what’s going on in the DSU because I make a concerted effort to do so. Others are not as proactive, and its up to the DSU to pick up the slack and give people a reason to care, and frankly they haven’t bothered to do so thus far. And especially with how awfully secretive DSU proceedings have been this year, and the bat-shit insanity going on in the DSU and Sagar, it’s even more tough to giving people a reason to care. Deception breeds cynicism, and that’s something the DSU doesn’t have a short supply of

  3. […] If interested in playing a particularly depressing game while reading, go through the articles chronologically and watch as the definition of shameful apathy changes from 50 per cent voter turnout in the 1930s to 21 per cent in the mid-2000s. (Sink yet further into your chair when you realize that last year’s turnout was 10.8 per cent.) […]

  4. […] 1,828 students voted in last year’s elections. […]

  5. […] of 3,260 Dal students voted in the 2014-15 Dalhousie Student Union (DSU) elections, an increase of more than 1,400 from last year. A total of 18 per cent of students voted, meaning turnout was the highest it’s been since […]

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Claire Wählen

Claire was News Editor of the Gazette for Volume 146. You can follow her on Twitter at @Claire_Wahlen.