I am going to be frank – given the turn out at hustings last night, one can only wonder how York has achieved England’s highest rate of people participating in voting for Union elections. I think it’s fantastic that people are participating in voting – but is it for the right reasons?
There could have been no more than a hundred people at hustings last night. The audience members were made up of at least 20 members of various media societies reporting on the question time, and the other spectators included a large number of candidates with their ‘campaign teams’ (otherwise known as a politically minded friend who fancies themselves as a tactic-guru, accompanied by a couple of hecklers in slogan emblazoned t-shirts), the current YUSU clan and finally, no more than another twenty disinterested students on their way to a thorough inebriation.
Despite live-blogging from Nouse – who broke the record for the most comments on a blog on the Nouse website – The Yorker, and live coverage by YSTV and URY, I can only wonder how much the rest of the student population will engage with the candidates. Let’s face it – there were probably more people in Tru last night than there were following the hustings or who will make a conscious effort to read back or watch any recordings of it before casting their votes.
Whether it be by a flyer forcefully shoved in hand, by an invitation to a Facebook group, or being verbally harassed, I sincerely hope that people take the time to peruse the competition and, more importantly, actually consider their policies. In fact, this year may be the most crucial in scrutinising which policies will benefit our Union the most – not only are there six Presidential candidates, there are five serious contenders for the position. (Sorry, Hansen… I really did love what you had to say about your “copious amounts” of past experience on all the York Firsts teams, but you lost my respect when you walked out during the questioning.)
I just looked out of my window and beheld two candidates postering my college. I urge everyone to talk to them, see what they have to say, what they can do for you, and how they actually plan on doing it.
It must also be noted that there were a number of uncontested part-time positions. Although they are not as ‘glamorous’ as the Sabbatical roles, YUM Chair, Ents, Campaigns, and RAG Officers only face the threat of R.O.N. There are undoubtedly countless other students who are more than capable of running for these positions, for RAG in particular, as each college has two RAG Representatives on their JCRC.
Why more people did not nominate themselves may be attributed to a lack of confidence, motivation or the assumption that they would not be able to devote enough time to the role. And yet – competition is healthy. In order to have a strong Union, we should be electing those who are the most competent for any particular position. Without competition, no reference point exists to measure the standard of opposition.
At the moment, from conversations overheard, the majority of the electorate are planning to simply vote for the candidates they’ve heard are ‘good’ from the rumour mill or who have a fun campaign. In my opinion, this isn’t enough, and I hope that my perception of the way in which students decide on who they will be voting for will change by next Saturday.
It does matter who you vote for because, ultimately, one has no right to complain about the capabilities of the Sabbatical Officers if one doesn’t bother to make an informed decision by taking an interest in individual policies, or events such as hustings.