I’m standing in this year’s Student Union elections, for the position of president, in a joint slate along with Mary Foy and Subira Wahogo.
I wanted to write something about the elections and I’ve decided to hold off publishing it until the period after the polls are closed and before the results are announced. I don’t want the result to influence what I write, and I don’t want what I write to influence the results. Is this necessary? I dont think anyone pays attention to this blog.
It’s really difficult to measure student opinion, people keep asking ‘how is it going?’ and I don’t know. Most students I’ve spoken to will nod encouragingly, or say they’ve already voted. I’m this weird guy standing in the entrance trying to intercept random people passing by. I suspect some of those responses are just an excuses to make me leave them alone.
I’d pushed to get our posters printed and distributed as quickly as possible. That was a success, almost a week went by before I saw a poster from any other candidate, we had posters up around every campus. We also went out on two weekend trips to Clive Booth, Crescent and Paul Kent halls and Dorset house. We knocked on doors, did some canvassing, and gave out leaflets. Mary and me went on Blackbird Leys community radio too, which was exciting.
Underlining this was a slight sense of unease at the fact that that nobody else seemed to be doing the same. We didn’t see much literature from rival candidates.
On the first day of voting I was up early in the morning to finish an essay, I handed it in, then went into a lecture, and at the end I was exhausted, I headed straight home. Meanwhile there was a flurry of activity with candidates all gathering at a safe distance from the voting stations to politely harass students into going to vote. I hadn’t really expected the voting period to be the main focus of all the campaigning and it caught us at a disadvantage because we hadn’t at all planned to maintain a round the clock presence at the voting stations.
In terms of the other candidates, there’s not a great deal I can say about them… a lot of the manifestos read like generic apolitical nonsense. Some of them are openly hostile to student activism (masking right-wing politics), others are just enlightened centrists who sincerely believe that everything is basically fine. If they think a position in the Student Union is just a bureaucratic function and they have no opinions of their own, then why are they standing?
The results are announced in a few hours and I’m not sure we will win. Hopefully the campaign has forced the other candidates to consider the points we’ve brought up, about fees and marketisation and chauvinist behaviour on campus. We’ve certainly provoked a reaction, a couple of posters have been torn down and thrown in the bin. Mary was subjected to some really unpleasant comments, someone reported our email address and twitter handle as spam which forced us offline for a few days. It has been a long week.