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.