We learned more things this week, but sadly some of them kind of sucked
We have now witnessed almost two full weeks of elections. Hasn’t it been exciting?
The answer to that is obviously no. It’s been pretty drab. To describe it as a beige affair would be unfair on the colour beige and even the Dulux dog would find it difficult to sniff out a dull enough shade to represent what we’ve seen thus far. The elections have not really offered much aside from a lot of communal back-patting, unoriginal campaign material (at least there’s mostly equality in this area) and the odd limited edition lol moment.
That’s not to say the contest won’t improve though, and besides, we’ve still managed to learn some things. Here is a list of the things we learned this week and sadly some of them kind of sucked.
There’s very few new ideas
C’mon guys! Where’s the originality? Although we’ve seen a couple of interesting ideas spread thinly across a couple of individual manifestos, we’ve been mainly confronted with the same old stuff. It’s the same old buzz-words, same old pledges, same old ways of achieving these pledges (that have failed in the past) but very few solid explanations of how candidates will achieve their manifesto points.
A lot of people haven’t done their research and it is genuinely painful to watch
If you were going for a job at Matalan and you didn’t know what Matalan sold, you would go into Matalan and ask, or you would google it, right? This would be the same for any other high quality clothing retailer, whether it be Bon Marche, Evans or even Peacocks.
Student elections are no different. If you’re going to represent somebody, you should do your research and fact checking. We have spotted so many blatant errors and false statements from candidates and it is painful to watch.
We look forward to people highlighting them at hustings.
There’s a split appearing between the experienced and new faces
We welcome it! Both are extremely important in any democratic contest. You need your veterans equally as much as you need your fresh young upstarts – that’s the beauty of the whole thing. There’s a clear divide appearing, but it’s up to the voters as to what they think is important.
The Union wants to censor student media
Nous sommes The Print and this week unelected people within QMSU tried to censor us. The piece in question was on sabbatical accountability and we were warned that if we published the article online there would be ‘repercussions’.
The reason the union* gave for us not being allowed to publish the article amounted to because dno – democracy so we kindly declined the request. This was followed by the union* putting pressure on us throughout the day to drop the article. Later in the evening (on the day of sending the paper off for print) we were brazenly told to not include any articles in the printed edition, written by or featuring the names of any election candidates – regardless of content. This would have meant pulling articles on Merger Cup and Islam Awareness week, so we again kindly declined the offer.
This elections season at The Print we will be keeping within the bylaws of the Student Union by providing fair, accurate and balanced content (which we’ve been doing all year) whilst obviously not endorsing any candidate. We will also be informing and entertaining the student body as well as exercising our editorial independence – both QMSU bylaws.
Scrutiny and accountability are pillars of democracy, as for the repercussions – we’ll keep you in the loop.
Meanwhile, our Students’ Union is paying societies to encourage voting
Good news for societies, bad news for democracy? Billed as a ‘competition’ the Students’ Union is offering cash prizes for societies that can get the most people to polling stations. We’re not sure how this affects the provision of a secret ballot and how they will know somebody is from a society when they vote, but we’re excited to find out.
We understand that the Union faces big problems with apathy, but cash incentives for people already inside the Union is a paradox that would frankly give those computer dudes in The Matrix a headache. It also begs questions about the power of society endorsements within elections and candidates targeting them rather than the student body as a whole.
The Marxists are ruddy well pissed off
That’s right! In an article featured on the Marxist Student Federation’s website, Marxists criticized the money-driven SU election advertising across campus and suggested that instead the emphasis should be placed on representing your fellow students and standing up to the university. They state:
“By encouraging people to run for leadership of the student union on the basis of how much they’ll earn if they win, you are guaranteed to attract only budding careerist politicians and mediocre bureaucrats.”
The Print even got a cheeky mention with the Marxists pointing out an advert we featured that had a big ‘Earn £24.5K’ emblazoned across it. If only they knew the strains of the media room at 9.45pm on a Friday night. We appreciate the Marxists concerns and have been equally vocal on Twitter encouraging a more political and passionate approach from candidates, but at the same time we feel that the QM Marxist society should have provided some candidates and put their mouths where the money is.
Social Media is still a delight
We’ve had new faces and staunch regulars chatting the finest quality, gale-force democratic breeze on Twitter this week and it’s been a joy to watch. There’s been snide comments on punctuation and spelling that featured bad spelling, and there’s been a slow build up in campaigning, although considering there’s only two weeks left we would recommend getting your skates on.
Considering how many students have Twitter, there’s not been enough joining the debate on #QMelections and we implore people to make their voices heard. Oh yeah, and there was somebody who didn’t even go to QM commenting on the whole thing which we thought was silly.
QMSU student democracy is more important than ever
As far as we’ve seen there’s very little fight being portrayed in candidates. We didn’t used to think that democracy and that whole student elections shtick was particularly important at QM until our union tried to censor us. We then woke up to the fact that at some point in your time here somebody is going to tell you “no” for some stupid reason.
At that point you realize that putting up a poster and hoping for the best is not good enough, whilst terms like ‘lobby’ and ‘campaign’ sort of become diluted. There are some great candidates this year and there are some ones that need to try harder. We implore candidates to put some meaning and bite behind their words, whilst we implore the student body to get to that polling booth and subsequently not mug your future selves off.
For further updates including exclusive news, live coverage, analysis and opinion keep an eye on our website and follow The Print on social media.
*This article was amended on 05/03/2015 due to the original wording breaking QMSU’s staff student protocol by referring to a member of union staff.