By Shannon Anderson, Editor in Chief
At the most recent LUSU board meeting, the board held an in-camera (non-public) session lasting over two hours. For reasons I cannot discuss (though, hopefully, after the next board meeting, appropriate aspects will be made public) I spent the better part of four hours this past week reading the LUSU constitution, The Argus Constitution, the Canadian non-profit governance guidelines, and several selected chapters of Roberts Rules of Order. Those thrilling page turners cemented my opinion of bureaucracy, which is mainly that it’s both baffling and tedious.
Speaking of baffling and tedious, we are certainly embroiled in a curious political time. There are ground breaking decisions that have been made socially, medically, and, with the Fight for 15 in full swing to the South of us and our own Green Party revealing their platform is going to bat for free post-secondary education by 2020, perhaps financially will follow. Economical changes, too, are continually under debate in the opinion sections of our largest newspapers. These are necessary and important conversations to be having, so why does politics still so often seem like a circus?
The United States, our near and schizophrenic neighbor who seems constantly in an abusive relationship with freedom (they love it, they fear it leaving them, they hate it when it belongs to others) tend to dominate our media, and as such, despite the volume of real, game-changing decisions that have been happening the world over, what we are most exposed to are clownish images and sound bites.
Consider the racket being made by and regarding Donald Trump. It largely consists of bombastic ad-hominem, casual racism, and supremely unsubtle reminders about his net worth (whether or not the estimates are accurate). This is the image of the Republican frontrunner for the United States. It should be horrifying, and we don’t even live there. Mostly, though, we tend to find it a little bit funny, and we wonder how far it can possibly go. It’s difficult to take seriously.
I’m not certain if our climate is one of politicized media, or mediacized politics. The information we receive comes in the form of viral videos, Twitter screen captures, and relentlessly pursued voyeurism rather than a discussion of the changes that need to be made, or even that have been made and what impact they’ve had. Those things, however, probably should be taken more seriously. Many people are discussing the media caricatures of Donald Trump, or Kim Davis, but I hear and see fewer discussions over, say, the newly enacted fair elections act, which has the potential to severely curtail accessibility to the polls here in Canada unless voters are attentive and vigilant to arrange any additional information. Or, that our own political parties have run campaigns which seem suspiciously concerned with the hair of certain party leaders, or that shut out organized media entirely. Even among our own municipal leaders and local media here in Thunder Bay there is a sort of family squabble moving back and forth in the local Op/Eds.
Conversations about relevant issues and needed change are, of course, happening, but nowhere near to the level of general public awareness a la Trump or Buzzfeed that they should, and while politicians and media alike have their share of responsibilities as well as agendas, so should we, as citizens, and as students. Political apathy in Canada led to only 61.1% voter turnout (according to Elections Canada data), and that needs to change. Those representatives are representing us. They are making decisions for us. They control vast amounts of our money, and impact our future. Media circuses and sound bites aside, that should be taken seriously, and we can demand better.
This also goes for own student government. LUSU is spearheading some truly far reaching and impressive campaigns to both increase student voter turnout and millennial involvement in politics, which is marvelous, but LUSU is also a political body in their own right, and one which should hold themselves equally accountable, transparent, and responsible as they urge us to demand our leaders to be. They represent students; make decisions on our behalf, and controls vast amounts of our money. We should be paying attention, and we should be informed. See the LUSU website. Know who your representatives are, what their mandate is, and attend the meetings.