Council of Alberta University Students launch Get Out The Vote campaign
"People have died defending this right. Don't waste it," a student representative said.
On February 23, the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS) and other student representatives launched the Get Out The Vote campaign (GOTV), aimed at encouraging students to vote in the upcoming provincial election.
Speakers included CAUS Chair Samantha Scott, Alvaro Ivan Garcia for the Alberta Students’ Executive Council, and Aaron Ramos for the Southern Alberta’s Institute of Technology Students’ Association.
CAUS is a non-partisan group that advocates for the interests of over 114,000 Albertan undergraduate students at the University of Alberta, the University of Lethbridge, Mount Royal University, MacEwan University, and Athabasca University.
Post-secondary students have historically had low voter turnout, according to Scott. Students may be unsure of where, how, when, or if they are even eligible to vote, she explained.
“The goal of this campaign is to demystify the democratic process and give students the tools and the knowledge on how to cast the ballot.”
Scott sees democratic participation as an essential way for students to utilize their knowledge and skill, to take action, and to voice their opinions.
“As post-secondary students, we are at a unique point in our lives where we are both learning about the world around us and actively shaping our place in it.”
All speakers spoke about the impact decisions made by the Government of Alberta have on students. Garcia reminded attendees that decisions made by their elected representatives will affect their communities, city, country, and life.
“If you don’t get involved with politics, it will get involved with you anyway,” said Garcia.
The event was held in a students’ lounge in front of The Pantry, the Students’ Association of MacEwan University (SAMU) food bank. The location was chosen to bring attention to the affordability crisis that is currently affecting many students, Scott said.
Ramos believes young voters turning up to the polls can help create a future in Alberta they desire. He spoke on the issues specifically affecting college and polytechnic students. These include the “insane tuition prices and other hidden fees” students are having to pay for and the lack of smooth work-integrated learning.
“There are so many barriers that students altogether are facing,” Ramos said. “Now this amongst many other things, are huge barriers and prevent students from being able to enter into the workforce and find meaningful work in Alberta.”
Voting and active participation in democracy is essential to upholding democracy, Garcia said. Garcia warned of the danger of losing your voice in the political sphere.
“Democracy is fortified in the space where the voice of the people is heard. Democracy, however, is always undermined when the citizens for whom it exists cease to be involved.”
All speakers emphasized urgency for students to vote in the upcoming provincial elections.
“People have died defending this right. Don’t waste it,” Garcia said.
“We urge all students to go to the polls this spring because, quite frankly, we cannot afford to sit this election out,” Scott said.
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