Elections were always fun to watch. As a part time officer you didn’t need to campaign anywhere near as hard as the Exec Officers. Back in my undergrad, Exec couldn’t get elected without being on a slate so you got a lot of wacky campaigns and huge banners hanging between the trees in Library Square (search QMUL election videos on youtube for some interesting twists on classic songs). Unfortunately slates died a couple of years ago which has reduced the fun of election times.
Running in elections as a candidate for an Exec is one of the most excruciatingly horrible moments of my life (Please don’t let this deter you from running, it’s worth it in the end). With the invention of headphones and smartphones, unless you’re with friends, all students walk around with headphones in (probably to stop candidates from talking to them). When you manage to catch people who are free to talk, in almost all cases they will turn around and say they don’t care (but they’ll still use our services…). Students complain they don’t understand what the Union does, and quite simply, the fact that you have any freedom to do most things on campus is because at some point in the past, somebody from the Exec or Student Council lobbied the University to allow you to do it. Examples include having access to the library 24/7 during exam season, or water fountains in buildings or the ability to even give feedback to the University. Mini-rant over.
Now you might be wondering why don’t you campaign in other ways? The answer is you do. You put up posters, have social media campaigns (I had an amazing Campaign Team, shout-out to Harris, Ella and Redwan) and you do shout-outs. But as has been proven by NUS (the National Union for Students) GOATing (Go out and Talk) is the best way to get students to vote. There was an interesting phenomenon in last year’s elections where the Exec positions were almost all uncontested which was really abnormal, further proof of student apathy. At one point this year so far I’ve considered just shutting down the Union for a month and see what students do, I have no doubts voter turnout at the next election would skyrocket when suddenly nobody can access services, the University does what it wants without consulting us and students have no way of complaining. Then everybody would understand the need for the Union. Luckily for all of you, I have a heart and some shred of human decenecy.
If you read my background you’ll know by now that I was a Barts student and a postgraduate running for President, a combination that has never occurred before (I’m the first postgrad Exec in 10 years and only the second student from Barts to be President). As such I knew nobody and apparently a bunch of QM students think that that’s good grounds to RON me (as well as a bunch of students from a certain society who apparently I pissed off by just existing, the irony of their discrimination was lost on them when it was pointed out to them). Ignoring the fact that I’m one of the most experienced and knowledgeable candidates to run for the Presidency (I know that sounds big headed but it’s also sadly true) and that most of my pledges would help all QM students, 30% of students decided to RON me. Unfortunately, I was not surprised by this, but it’s still absolutely soul crushing and a horrible way to start your Presidency.
Fun Fact - The Union has existed in some form or another since 1924 (longer if you count the medical colleges unions) and we’ve always had a president. The other roles have changed overtime until we’ve ended up where we are now, more charity based and less operational. Which is interesting considering the Union used to be a lot more political in the past and used to run a lot more campaigns which students engaged in, but that has died down in the last couple of decades… until this year.