Ballot inside the box

Recent events have me pondering what four years of observing student elections has taught me.

In 2005, as I trudged wild- and wide-eyed through first year with little regard for campus campaigns, RHM won under the slogan, “Crack the clique.” The following year, Team HML lost handily to the far less experienced Team MBT.

In 2007, Team CMM trounced Team TPC and received the endorsement of this paper, despite their collective lack of internal AMS experience and with one of their members being criticized in the Journal for having a concerning “lack of AMS knowledge.” A more profound insider/outsider dichotomy occured last year, with RWS (marching with indie band-esque posters and a mandate to be “insider with most of the students, but outsider to the AMS”) barely winning against ACH, the epitome—at least in the minds of the student body at large—of AMS professionalism. Notice the trend?

This year’s an anomaly where the self-fashioned “outsider” Team MAP lost to the “insider” Team CYZ. But, to be fair, the outsider team was comprised of three AMS service managers.

Perception did not correspond to reality, making this abnormal win an ebb in the trend’s flow, but not a complete discontinuation from the past five years of election patterns.

So why is it important to acknowledge such trends? It’s not to discount the abilities of less-experienced teams—I’ve often found myself supporting them throughout the years—or to say that branding is the be-all and end-all in AMS elections, although it certainly is a large part of it.

Rather, it’s to illustrate how this trend points to a highly concerning, somewhat expected and generally arbitrary disaffection with, and stigmatization of, the AMS amongst the student body.

I’ve come to the realization that extensive platforms are utterly useless. They’re only read by supporters, inner-AMS folk, those who are viscerally affected by a clause or two and a select few in campus media.

Generally speaking, the majority of students will vote on superficial means: popularity and how anti-AMS a trio can appear.

I, too, have had my days of disregard for campus politics, often telling myself I prefer to be interested in real issues and events. Ambitious students are often mere resume padders—yes, we all know that.

But what’s concerning about this pandemic of apathy is that it isn’t simply isolated, as many may contend, to student politics but is symptomatic of a larger disaffection with any political process that attempts to engage students on this campus.

There has certainly been small cause for celebration when the voter turnout percentage hovered around 45 per cent—a pathetic number, regardless of other universities’ turnout, particularly when one considers the insular nature of Queen’s campus life—but what of the years when it has fallen to a quarter of the student body?

Apathy is apathy and its prominent presence among students won’t simply disappear after convocation.

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