The total turnout was 16% of the student electorate — an increase on the year before of 3%. So out of a student population of roughly 10,000, the Students’ Union elections managed to attract approximately 1,600 voters. Hardly representative of the student body.
The first question that begs to be asked is why the apparent lack of interest amongst the student body? Especially when you consider that four of the roles being voted on attract an annual salary, almost £18k a year.
I spoke to a first year student, Besma Ayari (20), to find out why she didn’t vote. She said: “I had read about people campaigning for the Students’ Union. Read some of their manifestos, which I thought were pretty good. Andreas Zacharia’s campaign was brilliant.” But when it came down to the actually process of voting Besma said: “I had other things on my mind.”
Perhaps this failure to vote was related to the Students’ Union being perceived as lacking in relevance? Perhaps the reason why roughly 8,400 students didn’t vote in the Student Union elections was that they saw no reason to do so.
The second question that needs to be asked is do we really need a Students’ Union as currently constituted? In my mind, a Students’ Union should be run much like a conventional union. For the protection and support of its members during times of crisis. Do we really need a Vice President of Activities, a Vice President of Welfare and Diversity or even a Liberation Officer? Should anyone be paid for their work, apart from covering expenses? When I was as a union representative (UNISON) I did not receive payment but was expected to work for nothing.
Is it time for the Students’ Union at this university to take a good look at itself? Ask some hard questions concerning its organisation and its relevance to the student body? Possibly consider cutting itself down to a streamlined organisation, staffed purely by volunteers, who concentrate on acting as advocates for those students in need of help?Tweet