Jessica Errington argues that five days is not long enough to stage a fair election
There are many aspects that contribute to the anxiety you go through within university life. Whether it’s deadlines, finances, the eco-system developing on your flatmate’s bowl that’s been in the sink “having a soak” for the last three weeks… but nothing quite compares to student elections.
Well, it’s that time of year again. This weekend, the elections for the FXU student union have opened up, with a series of published manifestos of the student welfare candidates posted on Facebook for students to make a well-informed, 5-day decision to decide who they want as a representative. Although, let’s be honest, nobody gives a shit. We probably should, but we don’t.
For most students based on campus, the student elections mean nothing more than a time of year where frantic third year students are desperately campaigning to become a sabbatical officer in attempt to continue living the student life, and stave off ‘real’ unemployment for yet another year.
It’s that time of year where students can’t walk through parts of their campus without being lectured before making it to a lecture, whilst being handed out enough leaflets to fill a recycling bin, stopped for surveys and offered free food to cast your vote.
It’s that time of year where you just want to log out of your social media, avoid 70% of your campus and wait for everything to just blow over.
When it really comes down to making the decision, students vote for who offers the best freebies, best promo vid, the slogan, and how students leave a mark within a week of campaigning.
Although, in this year’s campaign, Ellie Phipps, took “the leave a mark” advice rather literally, getting herself into a rather sticky situation with her campaign stickers, wrecking student’s windscreens in the car park when they found them nearly impossible to remove. Some students did not take this lightly, with one anonymous student commenting on the Facebook page ‘Penryn campus Fitfinder’:
“Will not be voting #EllieForExeter seeing as she’s stuck some shit to my car that won’t come off. I’m all for campaigning but if you’re going to damage people’s property it’s just rude and you won’t be getting my vote. Got to try and scrape this thing off my windscreen now but it’s stuck.”
Another student wrote: “Shout out to “Ellieforexeter” for f*cking my windscreen”
However, Ellie immediately apologised and offered a windscreen cleaning service to anyone that was affected.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think having elected officers is a great idea, and I would really like to believe that Tremough campus is a democracy with all major decisions being taken by the elected student representatives, but how can we judge our representatives based on, stickers and leaflets? When we are offered a free milkshake to decide within a day? It’s hardly enough time to make a well informed decision about where our money goes. OnIy if you have the best free food and slogan you’ll win for sure.
The promise of bringing down transportation fees and parking is great, the promise of a sports pitch, and just bigger and better facilities overall is fantastic! But when a campaigner is saying that will happen in the next 5 years, but another isn’t promising anything of the sort but giving you cake right there and then, I know who my vote will be going to.
Despite hating the bombardment of information thrown your way by at least 3 people per metre you walk, I love that student elections aim to promote democracy on campus, give students the chance to hold the university trustees accountable and, indirectly, encourage participation in politics on a wider scale. However, the elections are flawed and a better system needs to be created, because 5 days to decide on your campus’ future really isn’t enough. Even if it is only for a year.