What do the SU do for us?

Jamie Trott tackles the SU and asks ‘what have they ACTUALLY done for us?’

It’s coming to that ‘wonderful’ time of the year when your trips to Hallward around those important deadline times are bombarded by shabby banners and T-Shirts.

They swamp you with false promises and original catchphrases like ‘Mike Dore wants more’ before they disappear into thin air.

Where year on year it’s just one big pretentious farce of popularity and sweets and by the time you’ve voted you realise, that was meant to be some sort of election.

Our current SU Exec

I picked up on this earlier in the yearsaying merely what the majority were already thinking and challenged these people to show up and create some change.

So, as the next lot of SU candidates jump on the Takeshi’s Castle style election, I wanted see whether the challenge was met.

However, this would only produce the musings of a ‘randomer’ with no SU experience. So we went out on to campus and the streets of Lenton to see what you, the students thought.

Now we knew that asking “has your SU represented you well?’’ was going to be pretty counterproductive, seeing as no one knows exactly who their SU representatives are.

So we simply asked 140 people “can you name one change the SU has enacted this year?” It’s a fair enough question, avoiding the problem of not knowing your representatives but still getting to the point of “has your SU done a good job or just disappeared?”

The results where phenomenal:

That’s 14 yes and 126 no.

We expected what is demonstrated on the graph but what it doesn’t show was the reaction of people.

The number of people who looked at each other going “this is awful”, “what am I paying for?” and “what on earth is going on?” was truly outstanding. Some people even genuinely responded with “what is ‘the SU?’” and “do we even have an SU exec?”

Shocked by this I decided to do some more digging to find out why people couldn’t answer my question.

Now I’m not sure if any of you have ever clicked the SU exec and council minutes, but I can assure you they are as dull as they sound. Unfortunately they are the only meaningful documents the SU have published where you can find out what has been going down. It doesn’t make pretty reading.

Front cover of SU council minutes

Now please don’t mistake me for an uptight ass but to start your report in the SU council minutes with “hey gang, with regards to manifesto points I have a cool plan” is not exactly professional. Furthermore, failing to provide a report by the deadline, when you’re being paid £17,000 and meet once a month shows something is a little wrong.

However, this isn’t the worst of it. Trying to work out the actual SU exec minutes, which uses an odd algebraic-like system that confuses who is saying what, is like trying work out why girls go to the toilet together.

You hope something’s happening but realistically at the end of the day it’s confusing and a little weird.

Yet it would be unfair to judge on appearance alone. Scanning through, it doesn’t take long to figure out what the real problem here is. None of them from the very beginning had any new ideas.

For example, the Democracy and Communications officer promised in his manifesto to support the SRSs (student run services), help JCR Presidents and increase awareness of those mysterious student councillors.

Is that not promising to do the job? Everything he promised to do, the job required him to do anyway. Nothing promised in his manifesto is new. If he ran on a manifesto of ‘I will do my job’ then fair enough, but he didn’t.

The problem is apparent throughout the exec. Take the Treasurer chappy for example, who ran on a promise to manage Mooch and the Den better. Well, fantastic. I can tell you he’s done a decent job of it, but that’s his job. Surely he’s just saying again ‘I’ll do my job well’?

However, the best example has to be the Activities officer. She ran on a manifesto that encouraged us to ‘think’ about more money and opportunities. Translated, this means if she just simply ‘thinks’ about money for societies, she’s fulfilled her pledge. Surely again it’s her job to deliver appropriate levels of funding and opportunities?

So my point is this: almost a year ago we elected an SU exec that apparently promised us some change. Instead what they actually promised was to do nothing new but what their job would have caused them to do anyway.

This is why we never see them again and this is why the whole system is flawed. Year after year we elect people to do a job under a disguise of change, but because it’s just a disguise nothing changes and they fade to a point of irrelevance.

So for those of you running this year, change something or risk being like them.

Have your say! Do you think the SU has made a significant change in the past year? What do you think of these results in light of the upcoming election? Do you even care what the SU do and don’t do? Drop us a comment below and get involved in the debate.

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