The new executives of University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) are getting ready to take office.
Last Friday, March 9, the candidates of the United slate swept the 2012 UMSU general elections, with each United candidate raking in over 1,200 votes each out of the approximately 1,900 students that voted.
Bilan Arte, the new UMSU president elect, said that she is very pleased to have been elected.
Arte credited the United team for working diligently and to the best of their abilities over the last two weeks to meet with and engage students. She said that she is honoured that a majority of voters turned out in the United slate’s support.
This was the first time members of her slate had run for an executive position, “so there was a definite learning curve for the slate as a team.”
“But I am proud of each and every one . . . including volunteers, for the work the slate has put in over the last few weeks,” she said.
The United slate has a list of the campaign promises it has made, and “intend on delivering as many of them as possible,” Arte said.
She added that the slate wants to continue consulting and meeting with students in a proactive way regarding the kind of campaigns and events students want to see the United working on.
“So that UMSU is able to better represent students with programming that engages and helps build a campus community and a more enjoyable student experience at the U of M,” she said.
Justin Paquin, UMSU vice-president (internal) elect, said, “you never know for sure until the results are in, so I was eager to find out all night.”
He said the elections were a fantastic learning experience.
“I got to speak to a lot of students and to find out what issues mattered to them the most,” he said.
Paquin commented that he was happy this year’s UMSU elections had “a lot less fighting between slates or candidates.”
“I have heard in the past that sometimes the [candidates] don’t speak with one another,” he explained.
He said that the first thing he would do in the office would be to get to know the UMSU staff.
“I know a few of the UMSU staff, but I really think it’s important to get to know all of them,” he said.
However, the winning candidates were not impressed by this year’s voter turnout of 7.3 per cent, down from 12.5 per cent in last year’s election.
“[It’s] not what it should be,” Paquin observed of the turnout. “Thankfully what we do during the year is what really matters.”
Paquin said that he will better promote UMSU services, events and campaigns this year to get more students engaged.
“So that next year the candidates will have an easier time answering the question: ‘What has UMSU done for me?’” he said.
Ronnie Cruz, the elected vice-president (student services), agreed, and said she felt that this year’s election was somewhat quiet and lacked participation from students.
She said that not many students were aware that there were elections going on; however, “through tabling and numerous class talks, the slate was able to get the word out.”
Cruz said that the first thing she would do is learn what she needed to about being VPSS.
“Most of all, evaluate and assess all the available services for student groups and councils in order to figure out how to better improve and utilize these services,” she said.
Candidates from the Free Radicals slate were not available for comment at press time.