Student politics experienced a handful of reforms prior to reading week, when the student body elected a new government and voted in favour of the SLC/PAC expansion referendum.
Of the 30,731 eligible voters, 2,583 cast ballots for VP education, 2,545 for VP internal, 2,681 for VP of operations and finance, and 2,768 for president. Overall, nine per cent of the student body voted in the Feds elections, which is an increase from the 4.3 per cent that voted in 2015.
However, the SLC/PAC expansion referendum saw 16 per cent of the student population vote as 3,458 students voted in favour and 1,092 students voted against the project.
Nefisa Ansong, Feds elections officer, explained why she thinks the voter turnout increased this year.
“This year was a busy one in terms of student politics,” Ansong said. “There were two referenda and an election, one of the referendums happened prior to the election. Feds used that opportunity to let students know about the elections, and what was going on around campus, really solidifying how important it was to vote.”
A few weeks prior to the Feds elections, students voted against the sever ties referendum which supported the boycott, divestments, and sanctions movement.
Chris Lolas, the current Feds president, was re-elected for the 2016-2017 year.
“It’s certainly going to be a different feel with new VPs, but if there are any people who can fill the huge shoes of Maaz [Yasin], Carly [McCready], and Stéphane [Hamade], it is these three. Sarah [Wiley], Brian [Schwan] and Deanna [Priori] are all amazing, and I know they’ll do great things for students,” he said.
Lolas, who ran against Razan Qaoud of People’s Voice for president, won with 5.4 per cent of the student vote.
Sarah Wiley of Team Impact beat People’s Voice candidate Kinsey Schurm by 894 votes for the position of VP education.
Deanna Priori of Team Impact won with approximately 4.1 per cent of the student body’s vote for the position of VP internal, after running against Amanda Fiorini of People’s Voice and independent candidate Victoria Harkes. Fiorini and Harkes received approximately 1.3 per cent and 1.9 per cent of the student population’s vote, respectively.
For VP operations and finance, Brian Schwan of Team Impact beat Jeremy Spira of People’s Voice by the smallest margin, only winning by 785 votes.
Qaoud explains that she wants to see the voter turnout increase more in the future.
“I am happy with the increase of voters, for one thing, a four per cent increase is better than nothing. But I wish we could get a larger outcome when it comes to the Feds elections,” she said, adding, “Is nine per cent of a very large student population a strong voice?”
As for the SLC/PAC expansion project, management will likely be split between Feds and the Graduate Students Association. There have been no updates since the announcement of the project’s commencement.