Recently, AUSU became a member of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations. CASA meets regularly with the policy makers and elected officials who have a direct impact on the access and scope of post-secondary education in Canada. CASA realized that these policy makers were not listening to the views of students but, conversely, post-secondary voters were following the larger Canadian trend of not participating in politics. During the previous Federal election, voter turnout was 61% in Canada. This was estimated to be the third lowest in Canadian history. The “youth vote”, or demographic between ages 18-24, was calculated at approximately 40%. Experts believe that these numbers across all demographics will be much lower in this upcoming election. CASA’s response was to create the “Get Out The Vote” campaign.
Get Out The Vote (GOTV) was collectively launched across Canada through 23 university student associations, including AUSU, to help address the issue of voter apathy. These student associations represent approximately 300 000 students. The idea behind the 2015 GOTV campaign is to, collectively, show elected officials that they should be listening to the views and opinions of organizations like CASA as well as the voice of younger voters. The goals of the initiative are to educate voters on who is running and their beliefs, how to register to vote, and when and where to vote. The campaign emphasizes a strong non-partisan stance. University campuses plan rallies and booths to raise awareness ahead of the upcoming election; however, the largest aspect of the campaign is encouraging students to take the time on election day to get to a polling station and cast their ballot. The goal of Get Out The Vote is to get as many students as possible to sign the voting pledge and commit to vote.
Shawna Wasylyshyn, AUSU President, aims to gather an impressive number of pledges to show the collective strength and commitment of the AU student body to the democratic process in Canada. AUSU has partnered with AUGSA to create a unified group of pledges from students studying online through AU. For more information and to sign the pledge, go to http://ausu.getoutthevote.ca
To find out more about the national Get Out The Vote campaign, the following links will help:
How To Be Political?Without Running For Office
Besides registering and committing to vote, there are other ways to help become more active in our communities that make a real difference. Here are several ideas:
– Read and listen to the information about the candidates ? cast an informed vote.
– Educate yourself on the issues, especially at a local level.
– Read books and magazines on politics and find out what is happening in all levels of government.
– Consume media with a critical eye.
– Ask questions of candidates and elected officials. If your community holds a candidate forum, attend it. If it doesn’t, organize one.
– Attend a rally for a cause you believe in.
– Write a letter to the Editor of a newspaper or even your community newsletter
– Participate intelligently in social media debates.
– don’t hesitate to tell officials when they’ve done something you don’t like, and why.
– Thank officials when they do something you do like.
– Circulate written petitions or sign online petitions about issues you believe in and join with others who think as you do.
– Attend the monthly meetings of your local town/city council or neighbourhood community association.
– Volunteer in your local place of worship, a local charity, or your children’s school councils to help make your neighbourhood better.
– If you support one particular party, volunteer for a campaign “behind the scenes.” Even small jobs like stuffing envelopes and answering phones for an hour or two are important.
– Live sustainably; think co-friendly and local. Make smart purchasing decisions (or, vow not to purchase so much “stuff”). Boycott products that you feel do not align with your values.
– On Election Day, make going out to vote a social experience for you and your friends. Get a group together, go vote and then co for coffee afterwards. Or, offer your neighbor a ride to the polling station or watch their kids while they go vote.
Carla Knipe is an AU English Major who lives and writes in Calgary, Alberta