No one cares about the Guild because they have given us no reason to

No wonder turnout is so low

guild guild elections jack malby poppy wilkins su elections university of birmingham

Now that all the banners have been taken down, now the 20 people who did vote have voted, now campus no longer looks like the aftermath of an explosion at the Cardboard and Terrible Pun Factory, can we finally admit something?

No-one gives a fuck about the Guild.

Last week we were bombarded by rhymes so bad Dr Seuss is turning in his grave. We were accosted by more hopefuls dancing in costumes than the average advertising break. And we had so many sweets thrown down our throats it was like we were in an obese porno.

Yet only 5,630 votes were cast. Okay, that’s a lot more than 20. But it’s also only 16.4 per cent of the student body.

Is 16.4 per cent a reason to celebrate?

What about the referendum? The one that got 800 votes last year. The one they moved to the same week as the Officer Elections to get people to see it. The one they managed to get 1,994 of the 30,000 students that go here to vote in, just 7.1 per cent of the uni. That’s barely half of the 3,500 bare minimum of votes required for the Guild referendum to count.

You might think this is a moan at people for not giving a fuck. No. This is a moan at The Guild for not giving us any reason to give a fuck.

Look at the actions of unions around the country. Swansea Union banned their Pole Dancing Society. Cardiff Union banned Dapper Laughs from performing on campus. Lancaster started fining students for being drunk at their bar. This raises two important questions. One: have you ever tried being in Lancaster sober? And two: why do these unions want to ban everything?

Look at The Guild. They banned Blurred Lines. They banned sombreros. They put breathalysers outside Fab.

We’ll never forgive them for ruining prinks

Those aren’t policies students want. Some fights just aren’t worth having. And while we obsess about those, we’re never going to make meaningful progress on the things that do matter: like tuition fees, or giving the staff that serve and help us every day enough money to live off. It took people pimping out Old Joe with spray painted anarchy symbols to even achieve one of those things.

But of course, that is exactly the problem. Unions and guilds can’t fight the fights that matter – the ones against the university management. Why? Because increasingly unions are funded by that same university management. Southampton Union gets a third of its funding via a grant from the uni. In 2009, Sheffield Union got 60 per cent of its funding from Sheffield Uni. By 2011, it was 74 per cent. The Guild is no different.

And this means they spend their time issuing bitter and restrictive policy, just to do… something: just to feel in control of a situation they patently aren’t.

Students will start caring what the Guild have to say and do when they actually give anyone a reason to give a shit. Turn outs in elections won’t get any better until the Guild actually does what it’s meant to do, and engage with the students it’s supposed to represent.