With the Federal election on the horizon, the Trent Central Student Association (TCSA) and the Trent University Politics Society (TUPS) want students, and the community, to challenge the way we think about voter apathy.
Ashley Fearnall, president of the Trent University Politics Society (TUPS), and a third year Political Studies major, says that despite recent research, including polling done by Elections Canada, it's a commonly-held belief that students are not engaged in politics and that they simply don't vote.
"This isn't the case," says Ms. Fearnall, who is spearheading the Trent Votes initiative along with Hilary Stafford, TCSA's vice president of equity and campaigns. "Youth - voters aged 18 to 30 - are engaged in politics, but they don't vote because of the barriers to voting, for example, difficulty getting proper identification and proof of residence. But, more importantly, they don't vote because they have limited or no interaction with political parties or their candidates. We talk about this issue once every four years or so, and there are limited improvements at the federal level every year."
Trent Votes is an initiative that strives to be the conduit to political interaction between students and politicians, allowing them to have their issues heard, and to discuss the difficulties related to voting. Ms. Fearnall and Ms. Stafford say they started Trent Votes in part, because it reflects the values of Trent.
"I believe in community and democratic politics," adds Ms. Fearnall. "And I know that youth are engaging in politics - it's just not always visible. Elections are visible and voting is something we that we can measure. This was a subject we discussed at length in Professor Changfoot's class last year, and one I became interested in because of this Canadian Politics class."
“Trent Votes is exceedingly important," says Dr. Nadine Changfoot, associate professor and chair, Political Studies. "It’s providing spaces for students and the Trent community to inform themselves as citizens, asking candidates for answers to their questions for the purpose of voting and also for building each their own political vision beyond Election Day."
Posted on Friday, September 18, 2015.