Elections: Why you SHOULD care

Sick of elections already? Alistair Steward explains why it’s worth voting.

The annual SUSU elections are one of those events that splits the student body squarely down the middle. When you stroll through the concourse and are accosted by lunatics in garish facepaint brandishing all manner of promotional placards it is easy to forget that a large proportion of people on campus are utterly indifferent about the whole thing, despite being members of the electorate themselves.

I’ve always been too lazy and apathetic about Union politics to actually get involved myself, preferring instead to snipe cynically from the safety of my keyboard on the sidelines. However, I do have some admiration for those people that spend their hours putting up with what is essentially a non-stop stream of moaning from the student population, so I reckon it’s worth paying a bit of attention during elections.

The common argument non-voters make is that the Union are a bunch of wannabe do-gooders so entangled by their own bureaucracy that they are effectively impotent. Or, in short: nothing will change anyway so why bother voting?

Well, this plainly isn’t true. Just look at what’s happened over the last few weeks – VP Sports Jonny Brooks is building a new gym for all the sports fanatics, you now don’t have to take acid to enjoy the Cube and they got us a deadline extension when some muppet decided that January would be prime time for tinkering with the IT system. If we had a different – or no – Sabb team would this have happened? Probably not. Equally, you don’t have to look too far back before finding an example of a Sabb making the wrong call, something that might have been avoided under a different regime. Get your head out of the sand: the work they do certainly does have an impact.

The other classic is the old ‘it’s a giant popularity contest’. Yeah, granted a lot of the candidates are well known on campus and are probably the sort of horrible people who have a conga line of devoted hangers-on trailing behind them on a night out. But they’ve normally achieved campus Big Name status for a reason other than boozing and facebooking – it’s happened because they’re involved with about fifteen different societies and are always out doing stuff. Why is this important? It means they have some idea about all the boring nuts and bolts inside the Union machine, which is kind of necessary if they want to drive it. I’m not saying popular candidates will be the best Sabbs by default, but you shouldn’t hold it against them or use it as an excuse not to vote.

Even then, it isn’t always the most popular people who win. Last year we saw Sam Ling burst out of the leftfield and I’m sure there will be similar surprise victories in the future.

Yes, the relentless campaigning and media coverage can get bloody annoying, but as far as I’m concerned if you don’t vote, you lose the right to complain when the new lot take over. And boy, do I love complaining. It only takes a couple of minutes, go and do it.