On the evening of Oct. 6, a class was held outside the usual hours and the usual subject matter of instruction at TRU. The purpose of this class, hosted by the Kappa Beta Gamma Sorority, was to increase student knowledge of voting.
Kassie Atkins of the sorority said that by giving students the opportunity to come and learn, it was hoped they would see how voting “will actually affect [the] country, and [how] it is important.”
The guest speaker for the class was Bill Sundhu, the NDP candidate for the Kamloops-Thompson-Cariboo riding. Ten students attended the event.
When asked how the presenter role was filled, Atkins said that Kamloops City Council and TRU faculty members were contacted, but Sundhu was eventually chosen because of his expertise in the field, his history as a human rights lawyer and because he “showed a general interest” in the idea of the class. No other local election candidates were contacted.
Sundhu began the evening by talking about the Magna Carta and the history that has gone into forming Canada’s democracy. Sundhu went on to speak about how important it is for people to vote and take advantage of our democracy. Sundhu then answered questions from the students in attendance concerning the Senate, the upcoming election and voting.
Some advice about the electoral process given by Sundhu included voting on a special ballot for your home riding if you are not in your place of residence on election day and going to the elections office to vote early if you are not available on Oct. 19.
Only 61 per cent of Canadians came out to vote in the previous election. Sundhu was adamant that in order for political change to occur in Canada, more people, especially young people, needed to come out to vote. When people vote “the conversation changes and the result changes,” Sundhu said.
When asked why he felt it was important for him to come to this event amidst a busy campaign schedule, Sundhu said it is key “to have a healthy informed public, and democracy is the number one principle.”
Atkins said that she was happy with the result of the event and that the sorority is planning more classes in the future with topics such as student budgeting, addiction and taxes.