The SU is a democratic sham

Want our vote? Stop banning everything and start governing in our name.


On paper, Manchester’s Students’ Union is a model of democracy – ‘government of the people, by the people, for the people’, to quote Daniel Day Lewis.

But this tag is as legitimate as the ‘Democratic’ in Democratic Republic of Congo.

Hardly the White House

In the grand scheme of things, no-one cares about their SU representation. To take the 2012 exec team election, the average committee position was awarded with a turnout of around 2,500 voters.

Commendable, surely? How about if I phrased that as 7% of the student body?

You could hold a measly by-election on the same night as the World Cup final and get eight times that.

It is possible at an SU election to earn a year riding the fully salaried job gravy train with 2% of the student body’s first preference vote (one in fifty for you number bods).

Get it down ya, son

Get it down ya, son

The SU Executive should probably get us back on side, then. That way we might vote and make them look half way legitimate. Nah, that’s too easy.

How about banning Coca Cola for three years and stopping students buying the nation’s most popular newspaper, the Sun? Ok, these bans are a) making a stand against some pretty evil corporations and b) hardly likely to seriously affect the student experience – but let us have some consistency please.

If you are going to take an ethical stand against big corporations, I’d prefer not to be reminded of your hypocrisy when I’m purchasing coffee from your newly installed Starbucks franchise.

Some of us students are, you know, ‘thinkers’, and we find dodging millions in corporation tax over a period of years just as offensive as a paper with tits in it.

Admittedly Starbucks now pay corporation tax but then again, Ian Huntley did stop killing, eventually.

A much less secretive Starbucks

I love the smell of corporation tax in the morning

When I enter the SU for my taxalicious tall latte I am also regularly accosted by the saccharin – sweet smile of a corporate drone attempting to sell me a soulless grad scheme. Again I ask, where is the logic in this? Until recently I could sell my soul to Microsoft but heaven forbid I’d do it while sipping on a coke bought on the premises. Either sell out or don’t. The middle ground is just plain awkward.

So I end with a plea to the SU Exec team.

Please remember that although you are in power, you are a vocal minority elected by a vocal minority. This article is scandalised and narrow minded for a very serious reason: when people lose interest in their students’ union, they lose sight of the good things it really does for them and focus on niggly issues instead. The 93% of us non-voters don’t want unhelpful debates about the merits of Coke and Page 3.

We would much prefer it if the bar started serving good food cheaply and money was spent on making the building and surroundings look more like the welcoming social epicentre of the university and less like one of Saddam Hussein’s palaces. He ruled for the minority too although, to his credit, I doubt he’d deny the armed forces a presence at Freshers Fair.

Charges 1) Crimes against humanity 2) Reading the Sun

Charges 1) Crimes against humanity 2) Reading the Sun

If the Union Exec Team were mature enough to stand up for majority interests and the improvement of student life, more than 7% of us might vote to keep it that way.