Student political groups and their relationship to the parties

With the 2015 election season upon us, no one has been more active around campus lately than UBC’s student political groups. More than anything, these students are trying to make UBC students do the unexpected — vote.

“It’s assumed that youth aren’t going to vote [and that] youth aren’t going to care. So a lot of parties don’t campaign towards youth,” said Amy Ryder, Election Coordinator and Treasurer of the UBC NDP club. “When youth aren’t voting, these parties have no reason the create policies which benefit students. But when students are voting, then parties actually have to pay attention to what they need.”

For political parties, these clubs can be a great tool. They increase voter turnout, engage young people in politics and campaign for the party on campus. How much the parties actually use this resource though varies.

When asked what their involvement was with the Liberal Party of Canada, President of the UBC Young Liberals of Canada Robin Asgari said “[We] are considered an affiliate. So we’re actually allowed to go to policy conventions and things and meet MPs ... but technically no, we’re just an AMS club.”

According to Asgari, members of parliament have attended events in the past. In terms of the frequency of these events, Asgari said “It’s hard to get MPs [because] they’re always in Ottawa, so it’s not too often.”

There seemed to be more opportunity for involvement for the UBC NDP club.

 “We’re affiliated with the national [party], but we’re also affiliated with the Young New Democrats — the youth counsel of the provincial party,” said Kayla Fast, president of UBC NDP. “It works to basically facilitate training, campaign training and it works to incorporate the youth voice into the making of provincial policy under the NDP umbrella.”

 The campus conservatives could not be reached for comment.

Despite their differences in structure and belief, both the Liberal and NDP student groups agree that getting students to vote is important.

“Check out all the parties, check out their policies,” said Asgari. “Just go vote because if voter turnout among youth is even 60 per cent this election, regardless of who wins, in the next election all parties are going to be paying attention.”