Back by unpopular demand

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.


  1. 18 Mar ’10 at 3:27 pm

    No to campus idiots

    And we complain that Foy is a twat…

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  2. 18 Mar ’10 at 4:22 pm

    Yes to campus geniuses


    This is brilliant, good to have you back.

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  3. pretty sure its meant to be “back by unpopular demand”…

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  4. I’m pleased to say that I haven’t lost hope in people being interested about some of the issues and debating about them. My house has seen passionate debates about disabled committees and free range eggs in costcutters once I force them into the conversation of our living room.

    Shame none of them voted.

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  5. It is meant to be back by unpopular demand!

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  6. 18 Mar ’10 at 5:10 pm

    Yes to Latin!

    N.B. Campus genii.

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  7. The title was my fault. Apologies.

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  8. 2 Apr ’10 at 1:45 am

    Miranda Fay Thomas

    ‘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.’

    I really do see your point. I believe that the UGM does affect societies, and it would have been helpful to inform the members of the positive change that would have been brought about by voting for the motion.

    Similarly, I also believe that there was a clear choice of candidate in the Student Activities Officer election – someone who knew how societies functioned and would have worked tirelessly to improve them. In particular, that candidate knew what he could do to severely help societies like mine. Did I send out an email to our members? No, because in the YUSU democracy, it’s against the rules. And although the candidate in question didn’t get elected, I agree with the rule about not using the society mailing list to solicit votes – no matter what they are for.

    Democracy still comes down to a matter of personal opinion, be it voting on a UGM or a YUSU officer – so does a similar rule apply for emailing society lists about UGMs? Should it? The only current certainty is this: unless YUSU find a way of publicising these votes properly, motions will continue to fail to meet quoracy. In the meantime, don’t namecheck me in a list of people apparently to blame.

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  9. 2 Apr ’10 at 10:24 am

    Take the blame

    Miranda – no, you can’t email out telling people what or who to vote for in an election. But you can, and should, use a society mailing list to remind people to vote. You can and should do that in the election – send out an email endorsing noone but encouraging people to vote.

    That is all that we’re being asked to do here. To remind and ask people to vote. Not to tell them to vote each way. Is that democratic? Yes. It’s encouraging democracy, not persuading it in any direction.

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  10. A UGM and a YUSU election are completely, completely different to each other and you know that Miranda.

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  11. 2 Apr ’10 at 11:35 am

    I Love Democracy

    You’ve missed the point slightly Miranda. Jim didn’t say advocate voting *for* the motion, he merely said getting to people to vote *on* the motion.

    Equating this to the YUSU election, it would be the same as sending out an email reminding people to vote, but not endorsing any particular candidate. Which is totally allowed.

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  12. Like every other student on campus i am SICK AND TIRED of campus society chairs with their snouts in the trough, guzzling the funds that hardworking students like myself and my friend darren provide through buying a passionfruit VK in the courtyard every other week. What I want to know is HOW MUCH LONGER are we going to have to watch these so called “elected” elites stand on their HIGH HORSE while they can’t be bothered to go and vote in the epoch shaping UGM’s that are so important.

    I think it’s HIGH TIME, that Jim Bulley, Henry James Foy and Jason Rose got together and established a triumverate with wide ranging powers to whip this university into shape. I would happily lay down my life (and that of my friend darren) in order to preserve the glories of student democracy.

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  13. 2 Apr ’10 at 2:42 pm

    Jacket Potato

    I was enjoying the blog until, the fourth paragraph… Maybe it was the mental image of Jim Bulley running from a mob that had me amused!

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  14. 2 Apr ’10 at 4:42 pm

    Doris Lurpak

    Voroshilov I agree. When I read whatever it is this article is about, and I thought about the patent injustices that are rife in campus politics, I was so angry I put my foot through my computer and sent Tim Ngwena the bill! But he won’t do anything to help, he’ll probably use the bill as a light for he and the other FATCATS in yusu to light their cigars with. I shall be voting Bulley in the next elections and I don’t care if Hazel nextdoor tells half the street.

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  15. 3 Apr ’10 at 10:23 am

    Just so you know


    This blog is nothing about who was the best candidate for which particular position, nor is it about whether the right people won. It is about student participation. If Jim were actively attacking heads of societies for failing to let the student population know about elections, do you think the head of this society would have allowed her name in there? No.

    Yes, it is very much against the rules to demonstrate allegiance to one particular candidate via a society mailing list:

    But it is often heads of societies and the student media which forms that select group of people who actually take any interest in elections, and Jim’s point is that we should try and encourage as many people on campus to vote – not who to vote for. Encouraging and boosting participation would create greater democracy.

    Personally, I think the best student activities candidate won, but the fact of his victory was not entirely based on his forte as a candidate, which really only people who knew him would know. Nick’s campaign was superb because it targeted everyone – it was accessible, personal and dynamic. The general student populace, from what I have observed, don’t care about clever posters and a good hustings speech (which for some candidates, is a massive shame, and can often highlight their true ability to do the role). They care about what they can see and what they can hear and who is saying it the loudest.

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  16. The article isn’t attacking society chairs, but you certainly are attacking Miranda.

    It’s very easy for anyone to post anything under a veil of anonymity calling for heads to roll, asking for their computers to get refunded if users lose their temper or thinking that a charitable donation of about £1.50 every fortnight means that they have more than a right than others to dictate Union policy (because that’s democratic, obviously). It’s much more difficult to actually take part in the student’s union, whether that be running a society or otherwise. In my experience, it’s much more beneficial too.

    If it were a genuinely groundbreaking society regulation change, do you not think people like myself, Miranda, the other name-checked society chairs and all the other non-named checked ones would have publicised the UGMs until our breath was emptied and our fingers typed to exhaustion? Of course we would have. The society motion in the last UGM was, unfortunately, dull. Voteworthy (in my opinion) of course, but dull and inconsequential. So if, instead of looking for genuine answers like Jim is doing with this blog for the benefit of the university, you’re taking this as the great excuse you’ve always wanted to ask people you don’t like (i’d love to ask why that is- i’m actually quite a nice person, and I haven’t met a society chair I don’t like) to “take the blame” then you should probably ask yourself why you’re doing that.

    If anyone’s reading this thinking, “why would I ever want to be a society chair or have anything to do with YUSU if i’m just going to be ridiculed on nouse comment boards for showing an interest” then i’d strongly urge you not to be disheartened. Getting involved with things like this is seriously one of the best things you can do here at York.

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  17. “It’s very easy for anyone to post anything under a veil of anonymity calling for heads to roll, asking for their computers to get refunded if users lose their temper or thinking that a charitable donation of about £1.50 every fortnight means that they have more than a right than others to dictate Union policy (because that’s democratic, obviously)”

    I hope you realise they were all joking. Other than my friend Voroshilov, of course..

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  18. Luke Malkin! I am incensed that you would concieve of my comments as an assault on student politics. I Refute that wholeheartedly. The democracy of york university campus politics is an eternal flame that burns brightly in the hearts of all intelligent and right thinking students, my concern is that SOME greedy society chairs want to SNUFF THAT FLAME OUT, with their apathy.

    In no way do I want to dictate policy, all I am asking for is a troika of celebrated campus figures to be established to restore order, this political threesome would have wide ranging powers to crush dissent and enforce maximum voting, then when the time was right power could be returned to yusu. The political manouvering, grandstanding, verbose sermonising and constant repition of the hallowed phrase “student politics matters” shows York university at it’s best, to loose that because of the ignorance of a few society chairs would be a HORRENDOUS RAPE of lady liberty, it would be a STALE SANDWICH flung at the face of justice.

    (oh and Darren, remember that time Greggsy got chucked out of willow for chundering in the prawn cracker tray? BANTER)

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