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Why we need to vote in the Students’ Union elections

As the sun begins to break through the hazy clouds onto campus once again, and the geese return to dominate the Warwick footpaths with the next generation waddling behind them, it can only mean that Spring is well and truly upon us. And that means the Spring Elections are too. 

Agendas will be written. Candidates will be shortlisted. Posters will be pinned to every available tree. Votes will be cast. And eventually, a Sabbatical team for the coming academic year will be democratically chosen. During your time at Warwick, it is easy for this process to simply pass you by. Second term is often the busiest and the prospect of looking into these elections further than commenting on the quality of cardboard banner can often seem like time could be better spent elsewhere. These elections can often seem like the apex of disconnect between students and our representation at university.  

However, while student politics may have its notable flaws, with the recent events that have been unfolding both nationally and the evident issues that are far closer to home, now more than ever is the time to elect a strong Sabbatical team that truly represents the students on this campus.

We are not simply voting for matters that are internalized within campus. By voting, we contribute to a wider, more national debate.

Voter turnout for SU elections is typically poor. However, following the General Election, they may seem particularly insignificant, failing to carry the same gravity. The names and faces of hopeful students don’t quite share the reputation of party leaders. Far from being familiar from our televisions or Twitter feeds, perhaps you once saw a candidate decked out in cardboard at circle, or recognise another from a first year seminar.

If we do vote, it’s likely we base our choices on the creativity displayed in campaigning  (a canopy of paper keys to symbolise “unlocking” new policies – bullsh*t, but genius), or the amount we are spammed on Facebook. Or we select the person promising a Spoons on campus – there’s always one. Straight-up deception, but a sure-fire way to cash in votes from those still mourning the burger-and-pint deal that has vanished from the Duck’s menu.

We should take the elections more seriously. Our Students’ Union is a central part of the Warwick experience. If you have ever joined a society, enjoyed (well, tolerated) a night at Pop, or met a pal at Curiositea, it will have shaped your time at university. It is in your interest to take this chance to influence it, to have your voice heard. And, simply, by not voting, you forfeit the right to complain. 

We are not simply voting for matters that are internalized within campus. By voting, we contribute to a wider, more national debate. Whether it be in local politics, such as the upgrading of the 12X National Express bus to Coventry following a dangerous incident that occurred near our campus, to national politics, regarding the state of our extortionately high tuition fees. By voting in these elections, we are contributing to something far beyond internal student politics. This gives us a responsibility, now more than ever, to be an active part of this university’s future. 

As students, we have a duty to create on a local level the change we want to see in the world at large.

The recent events that have unfolded on campus over the last few months have shown the unfortunate consequences of an institution acting without the representation of its body. With the support of our Student Union, it was actively shown that students not only have a voice to speak out, but also that this voice can be a powerful tool for change. The best way of doing this is knowing exactly how we want to be represented and by voting for those candidates in the upcoming election. The more people that take the time to fill out the two-minute form, the stronger the team’s mandate will be. 

Yes, in the grand scheme of things, these elections might seem trivial. But, ultimately, a national issue is a student issue. Passionate for climate change? Scrutinise the candidates for Environment and Ethics Officer. Identify as a feminist? Vote for a committed Women’s Officer.  As students, we have a duty to create on a local level the change we want to see in the world at large. Our campus is a microcosm, and we should treat it as such.

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