I have seen many society elections come and go since starting at York three years ago and all this has shown is that the current system is effective in allowing societies to hold elections at a time that is convenient for them.
However, YUSU are now inviting students to discuss the possibility of streamlining society elections so that they are held on an annual basis, resulting in elections all taking place in the same period and the termly elections, currently practised by some societies, being scrapped.
Streamlined elections have been shown to work for York Sport, where elections conveniently take place after Roses, allowing the new club committees the time and the training to put together the most promising team. Indeed, for YUSU, part of the incentive lies in being able to then streamline training sessions for positions which require outside support such as a club treasurer, rather than host them throughout the year.
Comparatively though, performance, volunteering, media, enterprise and those societies based around degree subjects all carry very different needs and require individual approaches to their management. While some are suited to holding elections earlier in the year to get more freshers involved, others require a delay to ensure they elect those with more specialised experience.
Societies are also constrained by a time frame of when they can hold elections by the activities they host each year. History Society organises an annual trip to a European city each Easter, but the detailed planning required for this requires that a new committee must be elected before Christmas. Media societies’ agendas are also set by which weeks they go to press.
Most importantly though is understanding that this potential change affects all ordinary students, as ultimately, this change could affect how your society has to be run. Yet, it is only the outgoing older members, who sit on society and YUSU committees who kick up a fuss.
It should be recognised that having society elections at different times allows students to run for multiple positions at relative ease, allowing a provision for those who fail to get a position in one society in the Autumn, to go for a position in another society in the Spring. Those students who particularly like ‘to have their fingers in many pies’ (and we all know one of those) and want to run for positions in multiple societies, would face scheduling conflicts.
Furthermore, whilst annual elections would solve some logistical problems, they would also initiate new ones. Under YUSU regulations, all elections are monitored, ensuring that they have been carried out in a democratic manner – however, if a larger number of societies hold their elections at the same time, there may be some instances where election malpractice slips through the net.
Finally, there’s also the consideration of some societies’ decisions to run termly elections rather than annual ones.
Termly elections allow more people to get a crash course in a society’s management, development and any equipment they use, allowing for a more developed society. The freedom to be able to only hold a position for a term allows students to change positions more easily, get elected as an exchange student, or leave when they face a busy exam period.
Ultimately, while many societies would also cite termly elections as disruptive, the current system where societies can have annual or termly elections, at the point of the year they choose, respects that decisions on how a society should be managed should lie with the society itself. YUSU cannot be expected to understand the intrinsic daily workings of the numerous and varied campus societies.