Lacklustre would be the most accurate description of this year’s YUSU election season. From campaigning to the elections’ outcome, a chain of events prevailed that could only have ever led to all-round disappointment.
Whilst many of York’s student populace interact only with the elections to vote for ‘a friend of a friend’, this year’s dire lack of YUSU’s own well-planned publicity meant the Union could never have hoped for anything more.
First-years, unaware of the hoards of flyers and electioneering beggars soon to be invading their kitchens, never had a chance to (mentally, if nothing else) prepare themselves.
Those who wanted to nominate themselves were expected to proactively seek out how to do so. Whilst this might seem a necessary precursor to anyone considering to become a paid Sabbatical Officer, those who may have run for a part-time or supplementary position were not given time to think it through.
YUSU have begged to differ on these publicity ‘issues’, but the saga continued: campaigning was harder for candidates. One student even asked a candidate what they were running for President of, indicating an almost understandable lack of knowledge about their Union. What are these candidates running for: King of YUSU? Perhaps not such an unjust description of the necessarily diplomatic bureaucracy of YUSU as we know it.
In turn, maybe this caused the array of largely unimaginative Sabbatical campaigns – or in some cases, a poster and not much more. For Sabbatical positions in particular, is an inventive campaign a lot to ask for? With a paid job at stake, the YUSU election period is the ultimate interview process. Proof of actual enthusiasm is as important as well-researched policies. In Nouse’s own poll, the most recognisable candidates were named as those who had either run a creative campaign, or already had the ‘name recognition’ factor attached to the position – through incumbency or involvement in popular student pursuits.
What was more than apparent in this year’s elections were the similarity of the candidates. Or, if we’re being entirely truthful, the whitewash of insipid, obvious, policy which coated the entire cohort. Individuals well known for their personable characters and opinions were suddenly overcome with speaking the ‘YUSU Dialect’. But that’s far from what the average student actually wants to hear. In fact, even the most informed would rather avoid it, and hear about forward-thinking ideas for YUSU’s development.
The Presidential ‘Debate’ was more of a Presidential ‘Chat’, with four nodding-dogs smiling in almost complete concurrence. Perhaps this was why the Presidential votes were quite so close: with so little to differentiate one character from another, it may have been hard for voters to make a decision.
Some specific policies cried only for a dose of common sense. Mentioning tuition fees as a token phrase to gain votes is far from reasonable, as an issue which will be set in stone before the next Presidency even starts, never affecting those who voted last week.
The result? An all-male Sabbatical team (with just two female Sabbatical candidates at all), and a set of the closest election ‘wins’ in history.
For those who lost out: maybe they’re better off. There’s still that chance to regain three weeks of degree work – and social life – forever lost. At least they won’t be responsible for explaining what YUSU actually is.