A Students’ Union election. Across the country this is the time of the year where student politics really does matter. At any other point of University life it can be passed off as unimportant or irrelevant, but when it is time to vote our representatives in we take an active interest. Or do we?
This year has seen the YUSU elections being advertised much earlier and more widely across campus, but still 19 per cent of students surveyed in a Nouse poll, conducted over the weekend, said they weren’t going to vote or didn’t care. Voter apathy nationally is a problem; however turnout at a campus-based university, where voting is online, should be a lot higher. The 2012 YUSU elections have been more prominently advertised on campus, but this can be made better still. Election themes were scrapped two years ago but bringing these back might create more of a buzz around campaigning, give the candidates an idea to work off, and encourage the apathetic student to take an interest.
Perhaps the ‘YUSU clique’, that is so often referred to when talking about YUSU Officers, puts people off voting. Perhaps it is a feeling that YUSU don’t do much for the average student. They exist to lobby and protect students, pestering the University to make concessions and constantly trying to steer them in the right direction. But they are the only lobby group we are going to get and if camping inside the epicentre of University high command, Heslington Hall, does not appeal – they are a necessary part of life.
This is why the elections matter and why apathy is a worrying sign. It’s important whether our YUSU President wants to lobby the University to build a moon base or improve communication between YUSU and students; ‘joke’ candidates are a great way to create an atmosphere of excitement and interest, but not as a real option. The policies that can make a difference and the people who have the drive and determination to do that are the crucial part of this election, not the candidates who’s promises are not just mere rhetoric, but completely unrealistic and extremely pointless.
As the campaigning carries on and results night looms ever closer we should all be arguing over who has the better policies, not who would be the most fun. If the ‘joke’ candidates are still in contention a few weeks from now, that is not something to be joyful about. Tom Scott, a ‘joke’ candidate who ran as a pirate, won the presidency a few years ago and loathed every minute of the job. Let’s not entrust our Union to those with wacky ideas but concentrate on the real contenders, even if they are glorified lobbyists.