MRU students ‘can make a difference’ in election
by Bryan Weismiller
Maybe you’ve been buried under a pile of textbooks lately, or you’ve been preoccupied “sampling” a few pints of Royal 100 in the Liberty Lounge, but Calgary’s 2010 municipal election is coming up very quickly. Whether you study Freudian slips or frequency distributions, Mount Royal students can make a difference by showing up to vote on Oct. 18.
“Mount Royal students can make a difference. They can have a say and that’s what is really going to matter,” said Meghan Melnyk, VP external of the Students’ Association of Mount Royal University. Melnyk said that it’s difficult to tell how engaged students are because everyone is still adjusting to their school-time routines.
“Students are just getting back to school. They’re heads down into their studies, into their lives, trying to get into their own. It’s really hard to look up and look around and see what’s going on around you,” she said. However, she also said there has been a lot of “buzz” leading up to election time. Affordable housing and public transit have been identified as the two most important issues for Mount Royal students.
Melnyk said housing is the second biggest post-secondary expense after tuition, and there are not enough secondary suites to accommodate students. She also describes Mount Royal as a commuter campus, because of the difficulties of taking public transit to school. Commuting is made tough by the absence of a southwest ring road and a direct C-Train line.
“They’re all connected. If you can’t live near campus, you need to get there. If you can’t get there by bus, because it sucks, then you’re going to drive,” she said.
While transit and housing are two important issues that af- fect students every day, some students still aren’t able to see the bigger picture, especially those who come from outside of Calgary. “I’d be more interested in voting if I knew about something that would directly affect me as a student,” said Kelly Alexander, an open studies student.
“Being from Toronto, I’m not informed enough about the can- didates to be really interested in voting,” she said. Melnyk says that voting at- titudes will continue to change as Mount Royal proceeds with its transition from a college to a university. Students who are staying in Calgary for four years, as opposed to two years, are more likely to become interested in municipal politics.
“Now you’ve got students that are going to stay. With that, you have more investment in the community, you have more investment in the university, and therefore in the city,” she said. Ward 11 alderman, Brian Pincott, agreed that it’s important for Mount Royal students to get involved in the political process.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re from Grande Prairie or Saskatoon, if you’re going to Mount Royal University then you’ve got a vested interest in our city,” he said. Pincott said that it’s “bloody important” that students get out and vote.
“Voting is a habit. You have to form that habit now. The decisions that get made today will affect the city that your kids grow up in,” he said. The students’ association will be hosting a series of events leading up to election day. Advanced polls will be held on Oct. 6 and 12 near the Mount Royal Recreation facilities; election day is Oct. 18.
All Canadian residents living in Calgary are able to vote in the municipal election, including Mount Royal students who live on-campus and may be from outside the province. Voting stations are open from 10a.m to 8p.m on Oct.18. Advanced polls run from Oct. 6 to 14 if you need to vote ahead of time.
Believe it or not, the voting process is actually very simple. You have to go to a voting station and check in with one of the volun- teers. You may already be prereg- istered to vote, or you may have to register at the station. You must sign an Elector Statement to be able to vote. You must also bring identification. Valid forms of identification include:
• Birth certificate • Baptismal certificate • Canadian citizenship card • Passport • Driver’s license from any province or territory. Once you check in and register, you’ll be directed in to a voting both. This is where the magic happens. Mark an “X” next to whomever you want to vote for and that’s it. For more information, check out: http://www.CalgaryDemocracy.ca the City of Calgary’s official website .
Call the election of- fice at 403-476-4100. For breaking news: #yycvote on Twitter.