It all ends tonight

The YUSU elections 2010: escaping the campaign is futile – you know it’s arrived when the décor of your college and University suddenly consists of 5ft feats of cardboard sporting ‘I’m the one!’ slogans; when election posters seem to have become a new craze in wallpaper and even your own kitchens falls victim to a mass pamphlet attack. The last fortnight of campaigning has been bemusing for onlookers, however, it all ends tonight. After the uproar and hubbub of campaigning has dwindled away, the ballots are counted and the new team of YUSU Officers are announced; we must ask that key question: Will the cheesy tag lines and flimsy promises that have been tossed around over the past few weeks really come into effect?

For many outside the YUSU ‘clique’, when today is over, the elected candidates will simply fade into obscurity. The formula is the same year after year: several campaign teams plus a few weeks of weak ideological outpour plus fanciful and at times, whimsical promises equals victory for one, and many platform promises subsequently unfulfilled and significantly ignored. As with any election, the focus weighs heavily upon the candidates, and this year is no different; what qualities they possess make them more refined, preferable and suitable than the previous candidate, what they intend to change, what they intend to create…the list is endless. However, once elected, where do the mighty elected go? Where, on the University of York radar do they appear for the next year, apart from inside the odd leaflet? It seems bizarre that once the intense campaigning is over, the winner will virtually disappear, until next year, when they reappear and once again, require your vote.

Although, I am in no way suggesting that incumbent YUSU Officers do nothing whilst holding office; clearly, the effect had upon our welfare as students is huge. However, we all receive the YUSU email, and we all see the occasional campus activities, but what is not included in any of this, is the information detailing the ins and outs of Officer activity. Have they managed to sustain their policies? And if not, what are they doing to reform them?

What students need (principally, first years who it seems remain unacquainted and cruelly uninformed of the process of elections) is information – to me, the Facebook groups, the two minute introductions by candidates before a lecture, the pamphlets, even the heavily documented newspapers nor hustings are enough to gratify the amount of information I consider necessary to cast my single vote for any candidate.

Only with heavy research have I concluded my final choice -and still, I remain only half-convinced that these roles that will be filled are only partly founded upon meritocracy; my pessimism leads me to believe that the grounds upon these people are voted for, will not be executed. The £4 million gap in funding for the swimming pool surely will hinder the promises of Matthew Freckleton? And how exactly does Oliver Hutchings propose to generate a more ‘Oxbridge type’ rivalry between University colleges? It’s news to me that the residents of York’s colleges are crying out to become more ‘beau monde’. And the £50,000 needed for Sam Asfahani’s 3G sports pitch? Is YUSU really going to cough up on the off chance he wins? It is these sorts of policies that provide all the evidence needed to demonstrate that these elections can be construed as inauspicious and quite frankly, trifling.

Of the students I’ve spoken to, few are willing to vote while they remain clueless about whom and what they are voting for. Where is the feedback from last year’s presidency? Did Tim Ngwena achieve his manifested goals? These are the questions raised by perplexed students, unsure whether or not to invest time in the YUSU elections; these are questions I myself had difficulty in answering. It seems appropriate that Ngwena himself has proposed “a weekly and termly impact and activity report on the actions and efficiency of the Union”. This report should also surely include the failings of such officer’s; have they achieved what they promised in return for our vote? And if not, what will be done about this? How do we, the students, hold them accountable?

Without a doubt, the nominees and their teams have been working solidly for the past month or so. They have captured the attentions of many eager first years, and managed to encapsulate on their policies enough to draw out their vote. But what the rest of us need is an influx of decent, relevant information: make us want to vote! Information on candidate’s policies, the debates and the updates on YUSU activity need to reach all areas of campus.

As everyone would agree, without the student union, many pressing issues concerning students would go unsolved. We should be inherently grateful that an outlet that provides us with a voice is in existence. But the YUSU nominees have a duty, not only to make their voices heard, but to ensure that we, the students, understand what they are really trying to say and do. We are entitled to a more comprehensive way of delivery. When it comes to Student Union elections, we have one of the highest turn-outs of any University in the country. Promises of ambiguous ‘change’ are no longer viable if we are to sustain this; we need the evidence and affirmation that your mandated policies are enacted. Keep us up to date. Let us see an unprecedented YUSU awakening, and HELP us vote for you.

14 comments

  1. Nice try, but please improve your punctuation in the future. (Learn how to use commas, semi-colons and hyphens!)

    “What students need […] is information – to me, the Facebook groups, the two minute introductions by candidates before a lecture, the pamphlets, even the heavily documented newspapers nor hustings are enough to gratify the amount of information I consider necessary to cast my single vote for any candidate.”

    What more could you want? I haven’t had any “introductions by candidates before a lecture” and still find a plethora of information. Try the brilliant YSTV 60 second manifestos, the online Nouse candidate profiles, the profiles that appeared in the last Vision, and the manifestos of each candidate on the YUSU website when you go to vote. If all else fails, speak to the candidates personally. I’ve had a chats with many of the candidates and they have been helpful and clear.

    “Did Tim Ngwena achieve his manifested goals?”

    If you cared at all you would have visited his website where there is a page answering this exact question in plenty of detail. http://tngwena.com/site/said-did/ if you still can’t find it.

    You do, however, make good points on the flaws in some candidates policies.

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  2. 13 Mar ’10 at 1:55 am

    badger hunter

    @ Information, if you’re going to criticise somebody’s punctuation, at least use it correctly yourself: “candidates” in your last line should include an apostrophe at the end to denote possession. Furthermore, you can’t have “a chats”, and in your first section the full stop should come after the brackets and not before. Stop being pedantic!

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  3. 13 Mar ’10 at 9:05 am

    Punctuation Police

    Boom! Badger hunter caught himself a piece of information there!

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  4. What is this an ollie advert?

    *

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  5. 13 Mar ’10 at 11:12 am

    no use at all

    Surprise surprise!
    Yet another Nouse article promoting Oliver Hutchings.

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  6. 13 Mar ’10 at 3:12 pm

    Student Politics

    Rhian,

    Is this really necessary 8 hours before people find out whether they’ve just wasted an incredibly emotional charged 2 weeks or not.

    “For many outside the YUSU ‘clique’, when today is over, the elected candidates will simply fade into obscurity. The formula is the same year after year: several campaign teams plus a few weeks of weak ideological outpour plus fanciful and at times, whimsical promises equals victory for one, and many platform promises subsequently unfulfilled and significantly ignored.”

    It’s a hard enough day for everyone already without some ill informed diatribe attacking the ridiculous work which over 50 people have put in over the last month. It’s not necessary and it’s unfair. ‘weak ideological outpour’ and ‘whimsical promises’ – I would have hoped that a Nouse reporter might have done some research before publishing such an emotive piece – every candidate this year has provided serious and well thought out policies, with the exception of Hansen and those Woman’s officer twats, and I’m honestly surprised that you would choose today to insult everything these people have been working towards. Just because they care about something far more admirable and superior to your own apathetic outlook is no reason to attack them.

    “But the YUSU nominees have a duty, not only to make their voices heard, but to ensure that we, the students, understand what they are really trying to say and do.”

    Of course they do. So do the YUSU Officers. And I’m pretty confident that is exactly what they have been doing (for more information on what candidates are trying to say and do, try, for example, reading a poster, looking on a website or actually talking to them. For more information on what current officers have done, why not check out yusu.org/blog – the old manifestos are there too). It is you, the average joe student, that has a duty to engage in student politics. Try that, and I’m sure you’ll find it’s not very difficult to keep up with at all.

    “but what is not included in any of this, is the information detailing the ins and outs of Officer activity. Have they managed to sustain their policies? And if not, what are they doing to reform them?”

    This question looks like a brilliant place to start your new engagement in union politics. The information, of course, is completely available. Check out yusu.org/blog for information on what YUSU officers have done, check out every officers individual page to read their election manifestos. You can also check out http://www.nouse.co.uk/elections/?year=2009 to find more information on their candidacy. If you’re not happy, why not drop them an email and ask them – they don’t bite. Tim has also very kindly laid out what he said he would do and what he’s done at http://tngwena.com/site/said-did/ – couldn’t be easier to find out!

    Yours,

    Student Politics.

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  7. Very well said Student Politics. The amount of apathy and negativity amongst the general student population towards YUSU and student politics is bad enough without reporters claiming candidates have “flimsy policies” and that they don’t provide enough information about them…spend five minutes looking through various speeches, facebook groups and blogs and it’s all there for the most part.

    As to “where do the elected candidates go” afterwards…well if they’re anything like our YUSU sabbs of the last few years, they’ll come back in October and work stupidly hard for stupidly long hours for a whole year in the interest of the thousands of students that take them for granted. Sure they’ll make some mistakes, and sure sometimes policies cannot always be seen to the end for whatever reason, but all in all they’re working in an underpaid job to get the most out of this university for its students.

    I’d be interested to know how many JCRC and YUSU positions you’ve ran for if you think everybody else is doing it wrong and doomed to disappoint.

    Tim

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  8. I love you Student Politics. You are so. right.

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  9. I’m a first year student and totally agree with this article; although I have been confronted by the posters, emails, Facebook groups etc, I have still found nothing that actually inspires me to vote. It still appears to be partly based on empty promises. Please prove me wrong.

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  10. What an incredibly bitter article. The candidates have done their jobs, have campaigned, set out their policies and it’s up to us, the students to go and read (and watch) the manifestos, blogs, etc. The results night was fun and hopefully the winners will serve us well – and I believe they will. Student Politics and Tim are both spot on.

    Uninformed and unnecessary.

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  11. I can see the point that everyone is trying to make that students should take more active role in student politics. Don’t get me wrong, I agree. But how likely is this in reality? As informed readers, you can post as many links as you like to tell other informed readers who have bothered to read this type of article where to find further information. But at the end of the day are you reaching anybody new? The average student is still confused and apathetic about student politics (and politics in general actually), so don’t slate the ones who have taken an interest for stupid things like their grammar. It just puts people off getting involved in the first place.

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  12. I am a first year student and I agree with the article in that I was given a multitude of pamphlets every day, a method which I did not consider enough to help me make up mind over which candidate would be most beneficial to YUSU and me as a student. While many of you raise the valid point that the information is there on the internet if you look hard enough, or if you already know where to be looking for it, until now I had not heard of the internet sources that you are mentioning. I think that this shows a weakness in the candidate’s campaign strategy and that clearly vital information such as these sites did not reach all of campus in time for the election. Furthermore during the campaign process only one of the presidential candidates was willing to give up their time to talk to me and answer my questions on their campaign.

    I do not perceive the article to be attacking the candidates and the amount of work they put in, and I do not think the candidates should either, instead I believe it should be seen as a form of constructive criticism which the candidates for next year could learn.

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  13. 14 Mar ’10 at 5:08 pm

    Kallum Taylor

    I think the (at first) hostile response given to Rhian and her article does (to a substantial degree) justify her points.

    People don’t like hearing the truth, particularly those people who relish the happy little fishbowl of campus, and their smiley, Sesame Street clad student union – which can I just say, from my experience as a first year so far, acts as nothing but more administrators for Brian Cantor and the rest of management.

    At the minute, the best bit of scrutiny we have during officers terms are with the exceptional, one off stories that slip through the Nouse or Vision – which admittedly is something, but definetely not enough.

    Fruit & Veg stall anyone!?

    Again, the hostility helps justify the article.

    To say that it’s down to the ‘everyday joe student’ to look is quite frankly appalling. If Tim had said that earlier, then I’m sure votes would’ve changed a little bit.

    The semi-political and political students will vote (and there aren’t many of them) for officers who’ll make/rubber-stamp decisions for absolutely everyone else… As a union you should – absolutely – strive for increased awareness and participation.

    Whilst I’m here, another thing…

    Portering.

    A friend who had a position within the Union has himself expressed his dissapointment at how weak the support behind the campaign was… And that he campaigned simply because he felt that “something of some sort had to be done, at least.”

    We’ve had our provosts, management and union reps talk about how no more 24 hour portering is a “political reality” – but it’s only a political reality because our Union has let itself become, let’s say, “Brian’s Bitch.”

    Maybe thing’s will change when ‘YUSU’ becomes exactly that, as opposed to York University Management’s Union.

    Kallum

    PS: Hope you all had fun and laughs at the courtyard, and that you’re basking in ‘change’.

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  14. 16 Mar ’10 at 4:15 am

    Andrew Derlien

    This article has hit the nail on the head- While I greatly respect the hard work that this year’s candidates have put into their campaigns, I strongly doubt that the winners will be able to maintain any sort of an awareness around the campus of their policies and actions, particularly after October when new students arrive. It’s completely ridiculous of Student Politics to claim that “every candidate this year has provided serious and well thought out policies”- many of the posters around the campus this year were characterised by childishness, vanity and vote-winning, empty promises. From previous comments, it seems that only first years have grasped the need for improvements in the format of elections- it saddened me to witness such a blatant popularity contest this year.

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