‘Take over the narrative’: BC student societies urge students to vote on Saturday

The AMS and student societies across BC really want students to vote on Saturday.

UBC’s student society is part of the Take It Over campaign, run by student societies across BC and the BC Federation of Students. The campaign’s goal is to put concerns of young people up front.

“The idea is to take over the narrative of this election,” said Tanysha Klassen, chairperson of the BC Federation of Students. “Not just proving to the media and politicians that young people vote but also that young people are going to make sure their issues are top of mind.”

Klassen argues that the COVID-19 pandemic is a chief issue in the upcoming election and one in which young people, who often work in tourism and hospitality, are disproportionately affected. Students therefore cannot be left out of the discussion on economic recovery.

“This election matters especially because we’re going through a pandemic and students are one of the hardest hit demographics,” said Kalith Nanayakkara, AMS VP of external affairs. “There isn’t a better time for all the student unions in all the province to work together.”

Other key issues for young people, according to Klassen, include affordable housing, jobs, affordable education, anti-racism initiatives and the environment.

According to a BC Federation of Students report, election voter turnout amongst 18 to 24 year olds increased by over 8 per cent in 2017, surpassing the number of voters aged 25 to 44. The campaign hopes to build on this increased engagement.

“The inspiration for this campaign came from the advocacy young people have been doing over the last few years,” said Klassen. “The climate strike, the BLM protests. It’s really showing the world that young people have a voice and want to be listened to.”

Organizers started prepping over the summer, predicting that a minority government would not last a full four years. With few students on campus, organizers designed a virtual campaign that included town halls, social media campaigns and endorsement from local influencers.

“Running a virtual campaign means we’ve been able to reach students who are looking for ways to be connected,” said Klassen. “It’s really great to see people interacting and it’s really great to reach an audience that is not our normal audience.”

The AMS has also launched social media campaigns, put up posters across Vancouver and published a video encouraging students to get out and vote.

“Get your vote out,” said Nanayakkara. “If you haven’t yet, you have one more chance. Make it count because this is the time to voice your concerns.”

Students can vote in the Nest on October 24.