Upcoming LUSU elections hold potential for a fall reading week
By Leah Ching
LUSU’s posters all around campus remind us that “Democracy is not a spectator sport,” and with so many important decisions to be made, LUSU is hopeful that the student body will participate in this year’s election and take advantage of their voting privileges. An important, yet not highly publicized part of the election is the referendum on whether or not the university should adopt a fall reading break. A fall reading week is common for many other universities, but as of right now, Lakehead doesn’t have any kind of equivalent. In fact, 16 out of 20 universities (80%) have some form of reading week, while ten have a full week’s break.
In this year’s election, Lakehead students are given the opportunity to vote for or against a 2 to 5 day reading break during the fall. Voting on this referendum may result in the adoption of a reading week during the next academic year. Power to implement the proposed reading break lies within the Lakehead Senate. The results of the referendum will be presented to the Senate by LUSU after they are calculated.
However, with abysmal turnouts to last year’s elections of less than 15%, the union requires at least 20% of voters to participate before the referendum can be taken to the senate.
Many students are appreciative of the possibility of a fall reading week. This can be a week to catch up on extra course work, or time for some to travel home to Southern Ontario and visit with family. Considerations include the trade-off between a week in the fall, and possibly starting a week earlier to compensate for lost time. For some, the trade-off might not be worth it.
This pressing issue is incredibly important as it has the potential to impact Lakehead students and their fall schedules. With a motion to implement electronic voting this year, Lakehead’s student union is going overtime to encourage students to vote. With an incredibly low 13% voter turnout last year, 2015 can be Lakehead’s year to make a change.
While there isn’t yet much information online about the proposed reading break and its pros and cons, Ian Kaufman says LUSU has been working behind the scenes in collaboration with Department Chairs to ensure that important questions are answered and concerns are bought forth about the potential reading week. With LUSU getting faculty involved, the crux of responsibility falls on the student body to participate and give their opinion during election time.
The election starts with advanced polls on the fifth, meaning there’s not a lot of time to research, develop opinions and vote with informed conscience. On the bright side, an opportunity is being presented for students to vote on a proposal and encourage impactful change in the university. With this year’s union working hard to implement positive changes and present ideas to the Senate on behalf of the students, it’s the students’ turn to step up to the plate.