With the provincial election in full swing, the Dalhousie student union is moving to phase two of their campaign strategy, titled ‘Fight Politician Apathy’.
“Students are tired of hearing that they’re apathetic,” says Omri Haiven, elections campaign coordinator. “And that politicians have no reason to listen to them. It’s disempowering to hear that stuff.”
Phase one was the release of their platform, which was sent out on September 4 to politicians and the media, and included tabling and a long series of classroom talks. Phase two plans to take that platform and surround a pledge card campaign around those issues.
“We’re getting people to pledge to vote and to march,” explains Haiven. “We’re going to be submitting these pledge cards to politicians all over the province and saying ‘look, we’ve gotten all of these Dalhousie students to agree on these platform promises. If you fulfill these, you’ll get the student vote’.”
As well as the pledge card, there will be a debate on campus September 24 and booths on every campus.
“It’s never been easier to vote,” says Haiven.
Following the election, regardless of who is elected, Dal Action is planning a march on October 29 to keep the newly elected officials accountable to the student demographic.
“We didn’t get a lot of promises from politicians,” says Aaron Beale, VP A&E (academic and external), when asked about the October march.
“We felt voting as a threat wasn’t enough. We sent the platform to all the parties and candidates and the response was nothing, so we felt like we needed more of a threat than voting.”
In the past, the union has rated politicians on how they respond to a series of questions in a sort of report card. This year the DSU has opted not to do that, saying that tactic isn’t working because “Leonard Prerya isn’t going to say something different from Darrel Dexter” and that it’s “all the same line.” Instead of telling students which politician holds closest to their goals and values, the DSU is campaigning on awareness and encouraging voting.
“Every year we do things to get people out to vote and report cards and it’s not like politicians listen to us more after we do,” says Beale. “There will be a link to a report card so that if students want that information they can get it, but we’re doing a lot more.”
The DSU estimated a budget for the election campaign of approximately $10,500, although Beale says now that he thinks the estimates for promotions and events were a bit too high, despite over 5,000 handed out in the first week
The campaign is fully run by students and anyone who would like to get involved is encouraged to attend the Dal Action meetings on Mondays at 7 p.m.