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Student issues are real this election

Youth apathy may not be real, but the government's apathy to addressing our issues certainly is.

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Laura Cutmore is a (paid) intern at the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. She’s also a graduate student at Dalhousie University, co-director of the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office and an organizer with Divest Dal. Find out more about the #VoteEducation campaign at voteeducation.ca and get updates through @cfsns on Twitter, Facebook - and Instagram. - SUBMITTED
  • SUBMITTED
  • Laura Cutmore is a (paid) intern at the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia. She’s also a graduate student at Dalhousie University, co-director of the Dalhousie Student Union Sustainability Office and an organizer with Divest Dal. Find out more about the #VoteEducation campaign at voteeducation.ca and get updates through @cfsns on Twitter, Facebookand Instagram.

Something I hear over and over is how apathetic students and youth are. As a young person, I am frustrated and insulted by this because I know that it isn’t true. I’ve been working with the Canadian Federation of Students-Nova Scotia and an amazing group of student organizers to help engage young people in the election and ensure that student issues are election issues. I’m certainly not seeing anything akin to apathy amongst this dedicated, passionate group of young people.

Through the Vote Education campaign, students are asking candidates to make real commitments to address student issues, including removing financial barriers to post-secondary education, introducing legislation to combat sexualized violence on campus, immediately providing Medical Services Insurance for international students, eliminating the inexperienced minimum wage and unpaid internships and implementing fixed election dates.

Students know that an accessible system of post-secondary education does not just benefit us, but benefits everyone. What’s going to happen to the province once this generation of students, burdened by massive amounts of student debt, is unable to buy houses or start families? That is why we’re encouraging all Nova Scotians—not just students—to vote for candidates that support student issues. We know that these changes are a necessary part of our collective future. Does this sound apathetic to you?

I won’t deny that historically, youth voter turnout has been lower than other age groups. But there are real and complex reasons for this that cannot be conflated with apathy. Aside from logistical barriers such as frequent relocation that make it challenging for young people to vote, student and youth issues have long been ignored or dismissed by all levels of government.

Social movements are alive with the energy and power of young people. From the fight for free education to combatting rape culture to Black Lives Matter to pushing for fossil fuel divestment—young people are leaders in so many struggles for social justice today. Last October, I joined 99 engaged young people at Climate 101, where we participated in a mass act of civil disobedience on Parliament Hill to protest the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline. Young people care about creating a safer and more just world for each other and future generations. That’s why anti-racism, reconciliation, gender justice, climate justice and accessible education are so central to the work young people do.

Youth apathy may not be real, but the government’s apathy to addressing our issues certainly is. Students in Nova Scotia have seen government after government ignore our demands for lower tuition and better youth jobs, shirk their responsibility to pursue a respectful nation-to-nation relationship with the Mi’kmaq nation, and refuse to support ambitious policy to fight climate change. Young people are passionately engaged in social movements, but so often our obstacles are the very governments who ignore our voices and then come asking for our votes.

I’m going to #VoteEducation because young people deserve a government that cares about creating a just society for all of us as much as we do. I hope you’ll join me.

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