The B.C. election is approaching, and student advocacy groups want students to go out and make their vote count.
The BC Federation of Students (BCFS) works to lobby the government and create better learning and educational opportunities for students in B.C. The organization is made up of 170,000 students ranging across 15 post-secondary institutions.
Tanysha Klassen, the chairperson of the BCFS, was surprised when the election was called. However, she was still able to create the campaign. Because this election is different from previous years’ due to the pandemic, she and her team are focused on campaigning online and directing people to the Take it Over website.
Take it Over allows students to pledge to vote. The website also allows students to choose their top three issues of interest in the election and have a letter sent to their riding candidates and party leaders. Klassen says this provides a communication channel between students, local candidates, and party leaders.
She says “whatever is going to make post-secondary education more affordable and accessible for students is something that [her team is] going to be supportive of regardless of the party.”
Alliance of BC Students Chairperson Grace Dupasquier says the main concern of the ABCS is ensuring that students can stay safe while getting to the polls.
The BC NDP’s platform promises increased access to the BC access grant for low and middle-income students. The party plans to tweak the definition of low and middle-income students so more students can access the grant.
Dupasquier says she wants the parties to recommit to investing in post-secondary education. She considers education a public service and says its funding should reflect that.
“It’s the best way to bring down tuition costs. It’s the best way to help universities’ staffing — like counselling departments, for example, to help with the mental health crisis on our campuses, to help them fund sexualized violence centres,” she says.
The ABCS is also working on the Take It Over campaign to help students learn about voting.
“There’s this conception that young people are politically apathetic, that we don’t care, that we don’t vote, and … it’s not true at all,” she says.
She cites the BlackLivesMatter movement and climate justice movement as examples of causes led by young people.
“It’s inaccurate to say that young people aren’t politically engaged. We absolutely are and we are planning on showing up,” she says.