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Educated Students, Educated Votes

I have never voted in an election before, and I will not be voting in this one.

Why?

As an international student I am not eligible to vote in any Canadian election. But that is not the point; the point is that many of you can make an informed decision and vote on the issues that matter to you.

In the 2011 Federal Elections, 38.8% of people within the age group of 18 – 24 voted, compared to the national average of 61.1%. We as young adults don’t vote, so politicians do not care to engage us or address our issues and we are therefore further neglected. This is a cycle that needs to change, and it can end with you voting in this federal election. Once students come out to vote, politicians will be forced to focus on our issues in future elections.

Before October 19th, take the steps necessary to learn how, where, and for whom you will be voting. The education team of the MSU will be running a series of workshops and events aimed towards assisting you in this process. On voting day, there will be reps all over campus that will be willing to escort you to the polls to cast a ballot.

Get informed on how to vote. As McMaster students we are fortunate that we have polling stations on and around our campus. Our votes will make a significant difference. McMaster is located in a new riding where no incumbent candidate is running. This means your vote will go a long way in deciding who will be the next MP in the Hamilton West – Ancaster – Dundas riding.

During this election, I encourage you to remember your experiences as students. Canadians are striving to earn a post-secondary degree, and I would want a government that attempts to make that process a little bit easier. As an individual, I would be looking for a prime minister/party that focuses on student debt. The average Canadian student debt is estimated to lie between $26,000 and $27,000. Frankly that amount is ridiculous. In 2010, the amount of student loans owed to the federal government surpassed $15 billon. To put that into perspective, this figure is more than the GDP of countries such as Mali, Jamaica and Bahamas.

I encourage you to vote for candidates that you are confident and proud to represent you as students.  Vote for parties and candidates whose visions and principles align with your own. You get to make a powerful decision, so please take advantage of this opportunity.

As someone who cannot vote in this election, I strongly encourage all eligible student voters to go out and vote.

- Ehima Osazuwa