With the completion of the whirlwind byelection to replace NAITSA’s President Allannah Wrobel, who stepped down for personal reasons, students voted to fill her shoes with one of her team members. NAITSA VP Academic John Perozok won the early November byelection to take on the role of NAITSA president, after serving as the interim president following Wrobel’s resignation.
Voter turnout for the byelection was 11.2 per cent, a decrease of nearly nine per cent compared to last term’s general executive council election. However, the difference was dismissed by Perozok.
“Voter turnout was awesome actually, in my opinion, because usually from what I’ve seen voter turnout is very, very low. [In the 2014-2015 election] turnout was somewhere around 4 per cent, give or take,” explained Perozok, “Last year it went up quite a bit, over 20 per cent. [But] we had a referendum, and we had a lot of candidates running for the four positions so there was a lot more word getting out. In my opinion, 11.2 per cent for a presidential byelection for just one position is actually amazing.”
Doris Car, one of Perozok’s opponents in the byelection, agreed that the voter turnout was good for a byelection, something which is unusual for NAITSA. “I’m very happy with the 11 per cent because there were only four candidates for the byelection and we made more than half [the voter turnout] of what they got for the regular election,” explained Car, “That’s the thing, the regular [executive council] election, a lot of people have that in their calendars, so they know about it in advance, and they know what’s coming up. There’s usually also something involved around [the election], like something happening on campus, and there are [usually] more candidates campaigning, reaching out to more people.”
However, Car also expressed some disappointment in the level of engagement seen during the campaign. “I would have wanted more people involved in that [vote] but we made the ten per cent, which is nice. For the next election, I hope more people will get involved because it is their money they pay to NAITSA, so they should actually go and vote to pick who will represent their needs,” commented Car. The mid-term transition will likely be smoother given Perozok’s experience on executive council as well.
“The transition will be a little different because I have some experience now. I would expect it will be a little more informal, as opposed to if someone newer were to come into the position. Likely I will be meeting with our past president, Allannah, and maybe other past presidents that I have contact with for some experience, as well as meeting with our executive director and general training with other members of the NAITSA [executive council],” Perozok explained.
Our new NAITSA president already has some goals in mind for the remainder of his short term, especially regarding open educational resources (or OERs). However, before students can learn more about his next steps, there’s a more important item on the agenda – filling Perozok’s former position on the executive council. That’s right, another byelection.
“There will be a byelection for the Vice- President Academic role. I’m hoping that we will get some great candidates. I believe the nomination period should be opening right away, if it isn’t open already,” explained Perozok, “I would love to see as many [candidates] as we can, I’d love to see three or four people running for that role. It’s a tough role but it’s a very fulfilling role, having done it. The things you get to learn from that role are incredible.”
There is some concern over voter fatigue though. Although Car recognized the need for the byelection, emphasizing the importance of keeping executive council roles separate, she was concerned about student interest.
“For the students it’s another election. It’s easy, it takes less than a minute to vote, but it’s work and it’s not a regular election, it’s a byelection, it’s additional to the regular election that will happen [in the winter term],” explained Car, “So now [almost] each month we have an election, and I think students lose interest because it’s too much.”
NAITSA, and candidates for the role of Vice-President Academic, may have their work cut out for them in the new byelection. However, for the byelection that students just completed, it appeared to be a fairly amicable contest. Car, who ran in both the byelection and the Senate elections earlier this term, was positive about the election experience.
“I’m happy, it was a really nice experience,” said Car. This was echoed by Perozok in his closing remarks.
“It’s always great to see when students come and have their voice heard.”
More information about running in the VP Academic byelection, or for a NAITSA leadership role in general, can be found at the NAITSA office, Room E-131 in the E-Wing.
– Nicolas Brown, Issues Editor