Reform of election process is needed, says Dan Whitehead
University politics has always been a contentious subject. No more so than at this time of year when the small villages making up our little town hold their community elections; where the popular, drunken and outspoken run for positions that they anticipate will mould the lives of the village peasants. I am, of course, referring to the JCRC elections.
As someone with little knowledge of the way college politics works, I decided to dedicate 5 days to attending countless hustings and election results across campus. My experiences varied from life-threatening boredom to wolf-whistles and semi-inebriated chanting. Derwent and Langwith share the award for holding the most pointless hustings of the week, as one spectator commented following the Derwent Ents Reps’ speech ‘when the crowd told them to get naked it was a low point in democracy’.
Despite some stunts pulled and promises made, my general feeling was that if students want to ensure the most suitable people are accountable for the running of their college then holding hustings in crowded bars is not a suitable means. The common excuse of saying ‘well it’s tradition’ is hardly a viable argument. Such places are associated with socialising, drinking games and throwing up rather than sensible political discussion.
It would seem that making an informed choice as to who would be best for a particular position is near to impossible in many colleges where the elections simply act as a popularity contest in which the Freshers who have got off with the most people, and participated in the most acts of stupidity will receive the accolades of being responsible for the future of the college. It hardly seems right, does it? If Tony Blair were the most pissed-up party leader, would you vote for him in a General Election? I think not.
Furthermore, from witnessing a Langwith election process which began on Monday morning with prospective candidates handing in their applications for positions, and ending with the close of voting just two days later it seems that “rushed” may be an understatement.
Alcuin College can be praised however for having a very respectable election system. This consists of a ten-day process from the beginning of hustings to the election winners being announced.
I’m not trying to suggest radical changes to our college election system here. I simply feel that if some elections received a little more planning and thought then we could take them as seriously as the JCRC take themselves.