The election for the board of directors has seen a drastic increase in the number of first-year candidates than in past years at Wilfrid Laurier University.
Out of the eighteen students vying for the fifteen positions on the board, five are in first-year. This is the recently revised tally after Nicole Gamsyager, a first-year student from the Brantford campus, resigned her candidacy Tuesday morning.
Sean Madden, chief returning officer, commented that generally students wait a year before they run for the board.
He expressed his optimism that it was due to him and Jon Pryce, chair of the board and chief governance office, engaging with first year classes about the opportunity for them to apply to run.
He estimated that they reached out to 4,000 students.
“I think the information and training sessions we did this year made people a lot more comfortable about running for the roles because they got to sit down and speak to people who are already in that position,” Madden said. “They were able to see if it was for them or if they were ready.”
April Qu, one of the first-year candidates, confirmed that Madden and Pryce’s presentation in one her business classes was how her interest was piqued in running.
The support she received at the training and information session also had a positive impact on her decision.
“Everybody was just so supporting and encouraging, and it was like ‘wow, why wouldn’t I do this?’” she said. “It was definitely something that I didn’t think I could do, and they just really made it something a first-year could really go for.”
TJ Edmondson, another first-year candidate, conveyed that Pryce was also a part of what led him to submit his candidacy.
“I actually met Jon Pryce at the Snowball event,” he began. “Getting to talk to him, he encouraged me … and told me what it involved and what I could do with it really pushed me to go for it.”
Commenting on whether being in first year will be disadvantageous to the candidates, Madden expressed his confidence in their abilities.
“I think they’ve got ideas, they’ve got enthusiasm,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of first year candidates put a lot of work into understanding the position and how they can improve it. So I’m not seeing really any difference between a first-year candidate and a second, third, or fourth year.”
John Pehar, a first-year economics student in the running, said that politics has always been an interest of his.
He related this to his reason for deciding to run as he said, “Learning the political atmosphere especially at a university is a great step to understanding the political atmosphere in the real world.”
Pehar went on to say that the opportunity to be on the board for a school he loves and cares about was another factor for him.
He did, however, speak to the disadvantages of being a first-year in the campaign as “you’re only known by so many students on campus”.
Qu expressed that she sees this as an opportunity to meet students outside of her program.
“I feel like BBA students really stick within their program,” she said. “To be able to actually meet people outside of my program makes me so happy.”
When asked for his thoughts on the increase in first years running for the board of directors, Madden said he is happy as “people who go on the board tend to stick around.”