A UW undergraduate student will be on the ballot in the upcoming municipal election. Andrew Clubine is a second-year student at UW and a candidate for public school board trustee, Waterloo-Wellington. Clubine is one of seven candidates vying for three spots on the board. Student involvement in elections as candidates is rare at all levels.
The Waterloo Regional District School Board (WRDSB) is responsible for 120 schools in the Region of Waterloo with approximately 63,000 students. The 11-person Board of Trustees, made up of members from across the region, is responsible for the policies and bylaws of the board, as well as ensuring the quality of education. Clubine has some experience with the WRDSB as he was a student trustee while he was in high school. He explained his motivation for his candidacy as looking to bridge the gap between the decision-makers and the students and families. “I saw an accessibility gap, the school board decision-makers are not accessible to families, the community as a whole, students. There is a gap there that I can fill with my experience on the board but also recently being in the classroom,” Clubine said. Candidates who are students are a rarity in any election, with only a couple participating in the current municipal election. Clubine believes that the biggest challenge is being taken seriously. “The biggest difficulty is that people have this perception politics is for older people, not for young people,” Clubine said. “The most difficult thing is getting across that I am serious about this. I think that being involved in the political process is important and that young people’s voices are just as valuable in the political process.” Being a trustee on the WRDSB is a part-time position, with most current trustees holding a full-time job on top of their elected responsibility. Clubine believes this will fit well with his studies and allow him to do both. Clubine finds that people are a bit surprised at first when they find out he is a university student. “It raises people’s eyebrows, like I said, people aren’t used to seeing young people in regional politics. Particularly putting their name on a ballot,” Clubine said. Similarly, his friends react with a bit of disbelief. “A lot of times, they kind of chuckle. But I think that comes from this idea in our culture and context that politics is only for a certain group of well-established folks,” Clubine said. Having been on the campaign trail for several weeks now, Clubine believes he has a chance of winning. “I really think I have good chances of winning, I’m not going to call the election. There are seven people running for three spots. But I really do feel I have a good chance.”