Yesterday afternoon I walked across the road from my house to Spar to buy some bread, cheese, a bottle of cranberry and raspberry flavoured Drench and a a Rocky bar, a walk only 10 meters long. As I went on my way I was stopped no less that 147 times by invasive well-wishers, all with the same question – “Campus Bulley has been gone for 5 months Jim, when will you bring it back?”
Alas, dear reader, this was not an isolated incident. Only last week I was forced to abandon the £10 I had just got out of that Halifax cash machine by Marks & Spencers so as to flee from an approaching horde, 1000s strong, which loomed round the corner by the Disney store carrying placards that read “5 months is too long. Where are we meant to get our completely useless and largely unready analysis of campus goings on from”. As such, due to this outrageously fictional demand, and in fear for my own safety, Campus Bulley is back. With a vengeance.
So what, you might ask, is the earth-shatteringly important issue that has brought my fingers back to his hallowed keyboard? It must be something big, you think to yourself, as you frantically read on. Have I, finally, cured cancer? Maybe I’ve in fact brought peace to the Middle East. Could it even be that I’ve proven, once and for all, that you CAN stop once you’ve popped? No no, dear reader. I am back to talk about something far far more important. I’m here to talk about student participation.
Now I’ve written about participation before. Twice in fact. That shows just how important I think it is. Last week we saw one of the most impressive turnouts in a student election anywhere in the country, and yet at the same time we saw another pitifully low turnout at the UGM, with only four motions actually making quoracy. That means that in every other motion, not even enough people bothered to vote to make them count. That is shocking.
Were the motions boring? Well yes. A lot of them were. But they still applied to a large chunk of campus. What about the Entertainments Review, which didn’t make quoracy – at least 80% of this University care about what the events are like, and if they don’t they almost definitely would if the events were different – get involved. There was a change to York Sports Committee – if only half of York’s 59 sports clubs had turned out to vote then it would have passed. Every society knows how hard it is to run their own elections, and yet none os us turned out to vote for the Society Elections motion. Why not? Because we don’t know or we don’t care?
Now in the past I’ve blamed YUSU for this rubbish participation. I’ve blamed the student population for not caring enough. I even once blamed my housemate (see Where are all the tree huggers? it’s rather a good read). This time round I’m going to be a bit more realistic. I blame myself. I blame Luke Malkin, Cesca Dessain, Charlotte Hogarth-jones, Charlotte Potter and Miranda Fay Thomas. I blame Sam Asfahani, Rachel Fernley, Rob Newton and Hamish MacIver. In fact, I blame every society chair and sports team president. What should have happened is that every one of us should have emailed our society/club and been like “hey look, there’s a UGM that affects us, why don’t you head on over and vote.” But we didn’t, so those motions failed.
Maybe this is the way to save UGMs though. Maybe Rhianna should email the societies and Emily the clubs, and then maybe we, the heads of those organisations, should email our members. Maybe if we use these existing networks we might get somewhere in University politics, and we might, for a change, get some motions passed. Every single student at York, whether they like it or not, benefits from student politics and I think, once again, it’s time we all got a bit more involved. And that, dear reader, is why I’m back.