They want to show young people and students do care about how the province runs.
And if the student population at the University of Lethbridge provides a strong voter turnout for the May 5 Alberta election, students’ union president Sean Glydon believes they could shift the balance in the Lethbridge West riding.
Those are two of the main purposes behind the U of L Students’ Union’s (ULSU) “Get Out The Vote” campaign, which launched this week in order to combat apathy and have students pledge to vote in the upcoming provincial election.
The idea is supported by the five members of the Council of Alberta University Students (CAUS), who, during a similar project in 2012, signed up more than 12,000 students to vote.
That year also marked successfully lobbying to allow students to vote in the riding where they go to school, rather than being bound by a home jurisdiction.
During an official informational session at the U of L Thursday morning, Glydon said students are stakeholders for post-secondary interests – and should be considered as vital demographic.
“Even more than that, we live in this province, we plan to live in this province going forward; we want to make it better,” he said. “So I think it’s important to engage students. We should have a voice.”
Students, Glydon said, are concerned about the uncertainty regarding changes to financial aid, fewer scholarships and bursaries, and the possibility of a tuition cap removal, which would eliminate predictability in the financial structure.
“If students don’t know year to year, and frankly, students and their families don’t know year to year, what they’re going to be paying in terms of tuition, that makes planning for post-secondary significantly more challenging,” he said.
The “Get Out The Vote” campaign has already amassed 6,000 commitments across the province, including about 450 at the U of L. They are trying to best 1,000 locally by using classroom talks, word of mouth and social media.
The person pledging is required to provide their name, contact information, and their student number, and will then be entered into a central database. When the election is held, organizers can let them know where to vote.
“Very few people have told us no, that they don’t want to vote,” Glydon said. “We’ve had quite a bit of positive feedback so far during our campaign. We want to engage students and we want to get as many of our students able to vote as possible.”