“You run us” is the slogan for the elections page of the YUSU website, and never were there truer words said, albeit in garish, mismatched fonts. We the students will vote for the team that will make up this year’s union.
But they will each bring their own expertise and talent (or ignorance and incompetence) to the table, and it matters hugely whom we choose to represent us, because they are the people who shape YUSU and give it direction.
Depending on our choices, it can be a strong force for our representation against the unscrupulously naughty university, and a significant contributor to the national student voice that can so easily be disenfranchised. Or it can be spineless, inward looking, bureaucratic and generally useless. It’s up to you.
On Thursday 9th February nominations close for union positions, and that’s when the real fun begins. Regardless of the outcome, the YUSU elections are as full of intrigue, scandal, and excitement as any presidential primary or constituency contest. So stick with us here at Nouse and we’ll guide you through this electoral roller coaster, starting with who’s running for what and why.
And perhaps the most important question in the contest is ‘who’. If you have organisation, charisma and a real commitment to your field it will undoubtedly help you win a significant role in YUSU, but these traits will also be invaluable in creating a strong and dynamic union that is not afraid to push the issues that matter to us students.
All too often those who were persuasive, well known or lucky in the elections quickly get subsumed in union bureaucracy and lose the will to fight for students’ rights. The practicalities of cost, or difficulties in implementing union policy are all too readily used by the university to pacify union officers seeking change, until YUSU becomes the lapdog of the Trustee Board.
So when you come to place your vote for each of the candidates, think about the person you’re voting for. Will they stand up and fight, or roll over and wag their tails? The sentiment “You run us” is correct because we can submit policy ideas to be debated, join committees, motion in assemblies, vote in referenda – in a very real sense, we create YUSU policy. But what we don’t do is drive it, propose it to the university or communicate it to the wider community. And that’s why we need strong characters at the helm, with the charisma and commitment needed for us to actually get our way. Tim Ngwena had it. Tim Ellis didn’t. And if we don’t choose the right candidates, it will be all too easy for the university to run us.