By Light Naing and Anushka Goswami
It’s election season, Western!
If you’ve been on Instagram or around campus in the past two weeks, you might have noticed students campaigning for various USC and Western leadership positions. Voting is open NOW for four days, from February 7th to 10th, to cast your votes online for your elected representatives. We know it can be daunting, so we broke down your USC ballot to understand what you are voting for and why.
First up, the USC President. The president is the spokesperson of the Western undergraduate student body to all relevant stakeholders. These include, but are not limited to, Western University, the City of London, the provincial and federal governments, USC alumni, community partners and other external groups. The President is responsible for representing the needs and wants of the student body to Western administration, and advocates on behalf of students to deliver programming and services. The President is also a voting member on the Board of Directors and the University Students’ Council.
The president is elected through a democratic voting process for a term of 12 months, and every undergraduate student is eligible to vote. Between the Presidential candidates, the individual who receives the highest number of votes wins the election.
Western Board of Governors
One student is elected as a student representative for Western’s Board of Governors. The student representative sits on the board of the university. The entire undergraduate student body is eligible to vote in electing a student representative for the Board of Governors.
The Board of Governors works to advocate on behalf of the University; to understand the University, its mission, its strategic plan, and its culture, and to explain them to the external community. The Board identifies risks and internal controls and ensures adequate resources and financial solvency is being utilized.
Western Student Senator
Apart from the Board of Governors, the Senate is the other governing body of Western University. The Senate is responsible for academic policy at the University. Alongside members of the administration, faculties and staff, the Senate consists of 14 elected undergraduate students. All undergraduate students can vote in the Senate election.
The Senate works towards improving student life and the academic experience at Western University, including the introduction of Fall Reading Week and Mental Health Policy.
You’ll also be electing a president for your respective faculty, who will oversee your faculty’s student council and hold a seat on the USC’s legislative council. You will only vote for your own faculty’s president.
Faculty presidents help coordinate and manage initiatives, events, and other activities that your faculty student council plans. They also represent your faculty’s student body and vote on recommendations to improve the student experience at Western.
Ultimately, their purpose is to listen to you, magnify your voice, and communicate it to the USC. If you’re in the Faculty of Social Science, you may have different experiences and interests than someone in the Faculty of the Arts and Humanities, and your president and councillors are there to represent this diverse array of opinions.
Faculty councillors, like faculty presidents, represent your faculty’s concerns, needs, and ideas to the USC. While they play a smaller role in planning initiatives, events, and activities within your faculty’s student council, they have an equally important responsibility to vote on issues that matter to you.
During the election, you’ll be voting on one or more councillors to get elected, depending on the size of your faculty. Just like faculty presidents, the faculty councillors you elect will vote on policies and initiatives based on what you communicate to them, so it’s important that you’re voting on councillors who you believe will promote the change you want to see in the USC and at Western.
This year, the USC will be holding a referendum on the myVirtualDoctor program. This means you get to vote directly on whether or not the current telehealth service we have access to gets implemented permanently through PurpleCare.
So what exactly does myVirtualDoctor entail? Through myVirtualDoctor, you get unlimited, 24/7 confidential access to licensed healthcare professionals who can help you with prescriptions, appointments, referrals, and medical notes within minutes via chat, video, or phone. Currently, Western students have access to the program on a trial basis. Implementing the program permanently would add $39 (plus applicable tax) to your ancillary fees, with the option to opt out of the service with a full refund. You can check out the USC website on additional benefits this service can provide and more detailed information.
The referendum was proposed by members of your student council to address the barriers that Western students face in accessing healthcare services. It aims to improve PurpleCare, the USC’s Health and Dental Plan. Your vote matters because it determines the future of this program for Western students. Whether you believe this program could help you access healthcare professionals or it would impose significant costs on your finances, let us know your decisions by voting YES or NO to the referendum in the upcoming election.
As a student, why should you vote? Voting in the USC elections is an opportunity to make your voice heard, and to make sure that your needs and preferences are represented within the Western community. The democratic process used by the University Students’ Council allows your vote to remain anonymous, and the availability of multiple candidates’ platforms allows you to make an informed decision. Exercise your voting right this week and cast your ballots by February 10th!