pen marking ballot with XThe presidents of Ontario’s universities have committed to encouraging students to participate in elections.

Ontario university presidents sign pledge to encourage students to vote

As Canadians head to the polls, the presidents of Ontario’s 20 publicly funded universities have signed a pledge committing to encourage young people to get out and vote, the Council of Ontario Universities announced Tuesday.

“As incubators of critical inquiry and debate, universities function as core institutions of a democratic society,” says the pledge. “It is in this role that Ontario universities pledge to support the fundamental democratic right of students to participate freely in electoral processes where they are entitled to do so as citizens.”

UWindsor president Alan Wildeman adds that voting is a right and a responsibility.

“I encourage all University of Windsor students eligible to vote to cast their ballot in the upcoming federal election,” he says. “Find out what those running for elected office are saying about issues that are important to you, and participate in one of the most important roles that citizens have.”

Patrick Deane, COU chair and president of McMaster University, says Ontario university presidents were motivated to take action after noting that just 39 percent of people aged 18 to 24 voted in the 2011 federal election.

“Voter turnout by our young people is disappointingly low,” says Dr. Deane. “And yet our democratic society depends on the participation of our young people. Ontario universities are committed to promoting youth participation in the electoral process.”

To encourage students to vote in the October 19 federal election, and in elections in all levels of government, university presidents have pledged to:

  • Support the dissemination of information on electoral participation on campus
  • Facilitate the availability of voting stations at accessible campus locations where off-campus stations are not accessible
  • Encourage campus-based groups that promote student voting, and address barriers to student participation
  • Provide a progress update at least every four years

Click here to see the pledge: