What do you really think about the elections?
With election posters everywhere and voting now open, Team Tab has investigated how UCL students feel about the UCLU Spring Elections.
Election time is upon us. There’s a possibility you may have noticed, what with the campus draped in the smiling faces of candidates, and flyers being shoved down your throat every time you try and enjoy a sneaky panini in between lectures.
Yesterday, Patrick Maguire urged readers to use their vote, and wrote about the importance of the Union in our lives. But what does the student on the street think about the political storm brewing over the Portico at the moment? Do they really care?
No, unfortunately. Of those that we spoke to, the vast majority of students just don’t care. A 2nd year geneticist said that “manifestos are almost irrelevant to the average student and the loudest poster wines. I might vote but I feel fairly dispassionate so might forget.”
This alienation between students and the Union appears a common trend. Indeed, when speaking to two history students one said he is “not voting because I doubt that my vote would change how UCLU is run and have a meaningful effect on my student experience”.
His friend than added that “All the candidates seem the same and I can’t see any changes after voting for this years sabb officers, so I probably won’t be voting”.
Slightly less prominent was the response along the lines of “meh, I’ll vote if I remember”
A medic commented: “Oh, I don’t really know much about it to be honest, but I might vote if I remember or if someone asks me to vote for them”
Some people did not even know that there was UCLU Elections going on. Quite a feat considering the posters are plastered across campus.
So who actually cares? It may surprise you to know there are people who actually vote in the elections. Though it was considerably more difficult finding people of this persuasion… etc.
Thank goodness we found this 1st year history student: “Voting is a right that we have and we should make the most of it. Although, some people feel the union’s not particularly relevant for them, I think voting is important and it’s a way of ensuring that you elect someone that can represent your interests.
From our field research that most students are either apathetic, confused or simply frustrated by the upcoming elections. Many said they wanted to vote but didn’t know how or that it was never explained to them what the union actually does for students.
One criticism commonly expressed was that the union didn’t seem to represent general student views and if it did, this was not visible enough. The more cynical suggested ulterior motives involved in running, such as wanting to feather one’s CV. For many, there were too many candidates and too many posters. It would be wrong however, to blame everything on the union and its representatives, many of whom do good work and do so in the interests of students.
Could student political apathy therefore be blamed for the cripplingly low turnout, in a world where university life becomes increasingly about financial transactions rather than political activism?
Perhaps increased publicity about what the union does for students would be necessary before any progress can be made. Whatever the solution, the elections march on.