Who are these people? Why is that one dressed as a kidney bean? Perhaps more pertinently, why has my lecturer been replaced by a brigade of grinning students? That’s right, it’s campaign week again – the time when brightly coloured, slogan-throwing students take advantage of a captive audience and shamelessly subject it to self-publicity.
This is not just a trivial matter. Exams and deadlines are imminent and time is more precious than ever. Nobody came to this lecture to listen to your flimsy promises of making the U1 turn up on time – it will never happen. Nobody asked for a bunch of over-enthusiastic students trying to win votes at the expense of everyone else’s time.
Nobody needs telling, ‘look out for me on campus!’ when it’s impossible to walk past the library without being verbally assaulted by one of your entourage. I would love to see nothing less than these people heckled off the stage – debarred from the election process, ejected from the university.
Nobody asked for a bunch of over-enthusiastic students trying to win votes at the expense of everyone else’s time
I know I’m being hyperbolic, but that’s probably because it’s 9am and I’m not ready to get excited about plans to lobby Stagecoach. This does not mean that I am against student politics. Quite the contrary – those who stand up for legitimate student grievances deserve nothing but the utmost respect. I am however implacably opposed to the unsolicited canvassing of votes during lectures.
Campaign shout-outs in lectures are not useful. Policies are immediately forgotten, and there is not enough time for speakers to say anything significant about their candidature. Lectures are not an appropriate platform; it is fundamentally unfair and selfish to use this time to promote campaigns.
I am however implacably opposed to the unsolicited canvassing of votes during lectures
It’s not just me who thinks this – what about the lecturers? I asked a few for their opinions on ‘lecture shout-outs’, and feedback ranged from indifference to annoyance. After all, they have carefully planned the structure of their lecture so that they can cover the relevant material, and it’s doubtful that they set aside ten minutes for a queue of prospective candidates to bullet point their manifesto.
I consider this to be a symptom of a broader problem – the dilution of genuine policies into punchy campaign slogans. To some extent this is undoubtedly driven by the busy student electorate receptive to bitesize information, and for many the understanding of SU elections will extend no further than that which can be compressed onto a cardboard sign.
It’s not just me who thinks this – what about the lecturers?
However, lecture shout-outs will just add more noise to the cacophony of slogans flying around campus this week. Social media offers a far better platform to get people involved in campaigns – where one can provide links to manifestoes and mobilise support through dedicated support pages. Not only is this a far better platform than the beginning of a lecture, it also does not encroach upon the time allocated to academic study.