Good luck Mr Stevens

As the last of the snow settled upon the Warwick campus and the prospect of a grey and overcast spring reared its head in the West Midlands, the predictable cluster of cardboard-backed promises from Sabb candidates took up every spare wall space around the university.

“I’ll fight for you!,” one candidate said. “I’ll be the one to give you microwaves this year!” promised another. And so, the race to attain the coveted Union offer positions began.

However, the metaphorical elephant in the room, the question, “who really cares?” refused to be smothered. We were more stirred up by the masses of signs swathing the library and the audacity of candidates interrupting our day, asking who we had voted for, than we were about the chance to participate in Union democracy.

Perhaps the most cynical of all Warwick students was an actual competitor in the race. Presidential candidate Alexander Di Mascio, writing from his kitchen in his pyjamas, penned, “I honestly couldn’t give a rat’s arse about your problems and views. What I do care about is seeing exactly what I can get away with if I am elected your President.”

Students observing the lack of enthusiasm for Union politics would be taken aback if they were told of the democratic fervour that used to exist in Warwick’s infant years.

[This letter from a University alumnus]( outlines the events of the Files Affair in 1970, in which a student occupation had uncovered the existence of confidential files maintained by the University on the political activities of a number of staff and students.

It prompted the historian E.P. Thompson to produce Warwick University Ltd, in which he wrote, “Is it inevitable that the university will be reduced to the function of providing, with increasingly authoritarian efficiency, prepacked intellectual commodities which meet the requirements of management?”

40 years on, it appears Thompson’s prediction has become all too true, with Warwick pursuing an increasingly business-orientated model of growth.

It is essential that students fight to preserve the integrity of universities, however this can only happen if they make their voice heard and take an interest in union democracy.

This year, 4,675 out of 15,969 undergraduates and postgraduates used their vote in the SU elections, which means around 29% of the student body voted. This is a figure which needs to increase if the Sabbs want the legitimacy to be as forceful and as innovative as the bygone days.

So well done and good luck to Daniel Stevens, who won the position of president for next year. But the whole election process means little without the backing of the students. Let us hope that he overcomes the bureaucracy of Student Union decision making and gives students more of a reason to come out and participate in university democracy.


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