By Owen Leitch
Fifty-nine per cent of Ryerson students don’t plan on voting in the upcoming mayoral election, according to a survey conducted by the Eyeopener.
As the tight race for Toronto’s top job heats up, candidates are looking to attract the student vote. While David Miller was the most popular candidate in the poll, the vast majority of respondents had no plans to vote.
At a recent mayoral debate held on campus few students came to hear the candidates’ platforms, highlighting the communication problem between politicians and students.
Politics professor Neil Thomlinson said this election should be important to every student. Although municipal politics can do little to change tuition fees, it controls transit and other issues of importance to students, he said.
“We are an inner-city campus and many of the issues will directly affect us,” said Thomlinson.
The top three candidates, David Miller, Barbara Hall and John Tory, have all vowed to get students more involved in municipal politics if elected.
“I’m the man,” said Dabid Miller. “The voice of students must be heard and they will have a seat at my table.”
Student voter apathy can only be defeated by making municipal politics relevant to students, he said.
John Tory took a different tack, saying students don’t realize the impact of municipal politics.
“They think the issues don’t affect them, they don’t own homes and don’t pay property taxes. But they should care because property taxes affect the rent for those who live in apartments,” said Tory.
Barbara Hall, who is vying to regain the mayor’s office, said she understands the lack of student interest in the decision.
“I think students are pressured by school fees and housing issues but I think they are also cynical of the system,” Hall said.
“I would meet regularly with student councils and I would invite students to be a part of things like advisory bodies to give them more say in what goes on at City Hall,” she said.
RyeSAC said it would be circulating a fact sheet this week to make sure people know how and where to vote. It is also plastering posters around campus reminding people why the election should matter to them.
But RyeSAC has done less to publicize this election than it did for the recent provincial campaign.
Although turnout at advance polls was high, Thomlinson said he would be surprised if the overall figure for the election was above 40 per cent.
“If I were a 20-something student I would ask myself who is really representing the Toronto I want,” he said.