The Student Union Election of 2021 saw a voter turnout of 6.1 per cent, marking the lowest turnout in the past ten years. Compared to 2020, turnout was less than half.
Returning Accessibility Representative Mia Scalabrin feels that COVID has put a damper on student engagement and excitement.
“COVID has taken away many university experiences, from living in dorms to in-person classes,” says Scalabrin.
Scalabrin feels that, because of this, many students may not have much exposure at all to the Student Union and its functions.
“I would not be surprised if many first-years have yet to even visit our Student Union building.”
Other students have commented on a lack of engagement with the Student Union and UNB as a whole. They say that being behind a screen makes it difficult to care since they do not feel the impact of the Student Union as much as in previous years.
Consequently, many students have not invested much time into understanding the platforms of candidates and simply abstained from voting.
The low turnout poses problems for election representatives who are unsure if the students, as a whole, truly endorse their platforms.
Incoming President Kordell Walsh has taken the low turnout to mean that he must consistently work to communicate with students in order to understand their needs and concerns.
He has expressed excitement about the challenge, especially if UNB is able to transition to largely in-person classes this fall.
Both Scalabrin and Walsh are hopeful that the in-person experience will bring renewed engagement to the Student Union.