A student voice at the HRM ballot box
Metro Student Coalition mobilizes
Ryan McNutt - October 1, 2012
There’s something different about this municipal election season.
It’s not just that Halifax will be voting for its first new mayor in 12 years on October 20. And while it’s exciting that residents can now vote online in advance polls, it’s not just that either.
No, it’s that this will be the first election in the Halifax Regional Municipality where the majority of the city’s 30,000-plus students are eligible to vote. And a coalition of the city’s student unions is working hard to make sure students make the best use of their new franchise.
The Metro Student Coalition brings together student unions from Dal, MSVU, King’s, NSCAD and SMU. Its goal: to position this election as a starting point for a further discussion about the role and potential of students as part of HRM.
And voting is a big part of that, because this year students who have lived in HRM for three months or more are eligible to vote, even if they left for the summer.
“We don’t just want students to vote; we want them to be engaged voters,” says Matthew Glynn, a soon-to-be Dal graduate who’s coordinating the coalition’s efforts. (He crosses the stage to receive his BSc in biology and sustainability at Wednesday’s convocation ceremony.)
“We’re talking about the level [of government] where a number of issues that really matter to students are decided: transit, culture, arts, safety and policing,” he adds. “These issues are a huge part of student life.”
The Metro Student Community Coalition has held several events already, including a “Spoke Out” bike ride with several candidates for mayor and council taking part.
Debates, workshops and more
This week, things really ramp up, with two public debates: one on Monday night, hosted with our HRM Alliance, for candidates in District 7, where a large number of Dal, King’s and SMU students reside; and one on Tuesday for mayor candidates hosted with The Coast and NS Right to Know.
Both debates are at 7 p.m. in the McInnes Room of the Dalhousie Student Union Building.
“I hope that students leave feeling more connected with their community and perhaps with HRM in general,” says Jaida Regan, DSU community outreach coordinator and organizer of the debates.
The coalition is also co-hosting a voting workshop for students on Thursday, Oct. 4, a primer on voting and broader municipal engagement featuring presentations from Dal municipal elections expert Jack Novack and HRM returning officer Cathy Mellett. The hour-long session takes place at 5 p.m. in room 2111 of the Mona Campbell Building.
There will also be a voter registration booth in the Dal SUB from 12-8 p.m. on Monday, October 15.
Other events being planned are an activity connected with the Nocturne arts festival, a “phone booth” display to encourage students to call their candidates and plenty more.
“These candidates are there to talk to you,” advises Glynn. “Students shouldn’t just sit back and wait for them to come and talk. Reach out if you have issues that you care about and want to know more.”
To learn more visit the coalition’s website at youthfulcity.ca
See also: Halifax Regional Municipality election website