As I walked into university this week, the usual green and happy Highfield campus was plastered with posters, banners and a plague of students handing out leaflets. Lord help us, the elections had arrived.
Not only was I unaware that the elections were taking place, but many of my friends were equally as confused. The marketing of these elections has clearly failed, as other students I spoke to were also unaware. This strikes me as quite puzzling, especially with SUSU’s strong media presence on twitter, Facebook, SUSU TV, and Surge Radio.
Secondly, where had this eruption of candidates come from? Then it hit me, the SUSU clique. Now don’t get me wrong, I have no dislike towards the union or anyone involved in it. I simply feel that the union is run by a group of students who all seem to be the best of friends and, if you are not a friend, then “you can’t sit with us” #meangirls. The elections can therefore be seen as a popularity contest, with no real emphasis on manifestos, but rather who has the most friends and the catchiest slogan.
I will admit that some of the posters and slogans I’ve seen all over campus are quite witty, however what do these candidates actually stand for? Is anyone passionate about implementing lecture recordings across all undergraduate courses or more affordable food outlets on campus? What have previous presidents and sabbatical officers achieved? Perhaps I am bad at keeping up-to-date with SUSU news, maybe I’m just ill-informed or it could be that our union isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Finally, I would like to re-iterate that I am not bashing the union completely; they have achieved a 24-hour library (although there is deliberation that the university was going to implement this anyway), and the safety bus service is fantastic. However will this election produce a team who will really turn things around? I am doubtful. The clique-like structure of the union is completely inappropriate for an institution of higher learning. We are not high school students and, until this structure changes, all the elections will ever be is a popularity contest.