Matthew Jeynes

It is a widely accepted fact that most sports clubs and societies at the University have cliques. Even if a club is as inclusive as it could hope to be, there will still be a clique.

This struck me while I was at the hustings for the AU elections last Thursday, particularly when four of the candidates failed to show up to give a speech. Perhaps one or two of them had good reasons, but potential secretary Harry Collins was, according to reliable sources, on a date.

It didn’t take long to realise why they did not turn up. It was because they knew they would win. None of the four missing candidates were contested for their positions. But also, they know that they will win because they are in the clique, they will be voted for by their friends.

This process is pretty standard across a large amount of society and club elections. I’m not saying that it is wrong – if the pre-determined winner is competent, as well as being very sociable and politically tactful, then well done them.

What did strike me as odd is why have the hustings anyway? There were, at most, 30 people actually listening to the speeches, discounting those chatting at the bar or those taking a break in the Langwith versus Derwent pool showdown.

So why have the hustings, especially for the uncontested positions? No-one really seems to care what the individual candidates policies are, and honestly they didn’t really differ. The speeches were not recorded by anyone but me, and this edition will come out too late to really affect the voting. In the end it will just come down to the traditional University system of voting for who you know.

Under this system, it seems likely there will be a distinct Lacrosse feel to next year’s Exec, barring any surprise RON-ing, with well over half of the positions likely to be Lacrosse or ex-Lacrosse players, not to mention Alex Lacy, AU President-elect, himself a keen player.

This is perhaps indicative of the rapid rise to prominence of Lacrosse on campus, reflecting the fairly growth of Lacrosse in general both here in Britain and in America.

This is clearly why some of the candidates decided not to turn up. People will vote for team mates in their own club, and it is clear that the Lacrosse club has a knack of getting its members on the Exec. It could be that people who play Lacrosse are more attracted to administrative duties, but I can’t see an obvious link.
They will face a choice for Events officer, which sees two Lacrosse members running against each other. Frankly, one of them should run for Comms officer, it would make more sense.

So, it seems that in our cliquey University society hustings have become obsolete. The whole ceremony of asking for written or verbal questions seemed out of place at an event which consists mainly of candidate’s friends writing witty written questions such as “is RON just too strong this year?”

I mean, who could forget the hour’s worth of irrelevant questions that Rich Croker received last year when running for Treasurer? I was pleasantly surprised the whole affair lasted only an hour and a half.

Hustings for the non-sabbatical positions are fairly pointless, as are possibly hustings for Union positions in general. Students are going to vote for who they know, or who they bumped into once in Ziggy’s in a drunken haze. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it seems silly to kid ourselves that hustings make a difference when all the evidence points to the contrary.