Walking into the Duck last Friday I was immediately struck by the energy in the room. Nerves were tangible, and only thinly masked by spectators laughing, drinking, and cheering at every passing comment the host made. As the winning candidates were announced it was touching to see people become so emotional at the chance to work for the SU – seeing campaigners shedding tears at the results really demonstrated the love candidates put in, and their earnest desire to be elected.
I was filled with a sense of admiration for the teams behind their campaigns, jumping ecstatically at their success or hugging each other at their lack thereof. It was clear how deeply people care about their SU and the Sabbatical positions within it, and moreover how passionately people want to improve students lives.
However, when I took a few steps back from the haze and excitement my thoughts turned to the hundreds of Freshers queuing for the U1 on their way out to Neon, the students in the library at that very moment finishing essays, and the staff at the Duck trying to stay on top of their debt with a part-time job, and I remembered how little most people care. The frenzy within the Duck was an incredibly insular bubble of students. They seemed fixated on the importance of what they were doing, and oblivious to the fact that thousands of students wouldn’t even bother voting.
I was immediately struck by the energy in the room
This obliviousness was reinforced when, after one candidate won, a conflict occurred between two campaigners. Signs from an unsuccessful candidate were childishly ripped up in front of the students who had spent weeks working on that campaign. Supporters became aggressive, calling the losing campaigners ‘scum’, and squaring up to people who only tried to calm the situation. The atmosphere shifted from hope to aggression so quickly that I was at a loss as to how it happened, and there were moments where I genuinely thought the fight would become physical.
What really amazed me about the situation is that students would be so quick to rage over an SU election. It’s astounding that some people care so greatly that they are willing to isolate and attack those who disagree. When someone tried to pop the bubble of this “unapologetically political” group they reacted with such venom that I was appalled to have voted for their candidate.
Supporters became aggressive, calling the losing campaigners ‘scum’
Ultimately, these elections epitomise the SU’s bubble. It displays just how isolated it is from regular students, most of whom wouldn’t get aggressive over a political dispute, especially not one as small as an Sabb election. This bubble preaches things most students want, but the passion that makes them so brilliant quickly turns into a violence that few can respect. Winning and losing with dignity is the mark of maturity, and when groups throw tantrums regardless of the result it makes me question their integrity.
Perhaps if these students spent a little less time getting aggressive from any form of dispute, and a little more time listening, communicating, and engaging with the students they claim to represent, then they wouldn’t be such an isolated group on campus.