In the run up to the Executive Elections, many students start to discuss possible candidates, who they think would do a good job, and what effects the new officers could have on the union next year. But what about the staff who work alongside the elected candidates? I recently spoke to media administrator Alison Johnston and Rag administrator Jane Turner to get their thoughts on Loughborough's election process, and which past campaigns have stood out to them.
I started by asking what they thought of Loughborough's election process generally, both giving it a positive review. Alison picked up on how exciting it was compared to other university's, partly because there is a bigger elect than at most, but also because so many more people get involved. Jane was happy that it had been cut shorter as it was very long in previous years.
So what are the best and worst campaigns they've seen in Loughborough?
Alison has worked here for eight years and like Jane who has been here for fourteen, said you tend to focus more on the campaigns that are relevant to your section. One Alison mentioned was Ore Oduba's from over five years ago, who dressed up as Bugsy Malone, describing it as a 'very flash' campaign. She also said she liked Natasha Cox, the current Head of Media's campaign from last year where she changed her name to Natasha 'Captain' Cox and used a lifesaving ring as her main symbol, with door knocking halls being one of the key ways she interacted with students. Another campaign mentioned was Lucy 'Hoppo' Hopkins, when she ran for president in 2010. Her campaign was very bright and easily identifiable with orange as the main colour, and a space hopper as her key symbol. When looking at previous Rag campaigns, Jane described Jamie Oliver's, the Rag chair from 2009-2010 as 'genius'. Not much work had to be done when coming up with a campaign idea as he used his real name, posing as the famous chef, serving pancakes to the students of Loughborough, with an eye catching costume of chef trousers on him and his team. Jane also mentioned Maddy 'Ragdoll' Buckley who won the position of Rag chair in 2010 as putting 'a lot of hard work in', with stunts such as a charity sponsored balloon launch, which all campaigners and many students got involved in, letting their balloons off at Rigg-Rut fountain.
With the £100 budget cap this year, we could however see many more free stunts and less elaborate campaigns, Jane stating 'if you've got the money it's good but it's better now they've all got the same amount so it's fair'.
It's a lot harder to name names when it comes to the worst campaigns, but both mentioned that candidates who use negative campaigning, focussing on the flaws of their opponent rather than their own campaigns don't go down well. Jane said that in the past this has worked against people 'as then that was the main talking point rather than their manifestos'. Alison stated that it's much better when the candidates just concentrate on the positives, but as someone who works in the union rather than seeing candidates in action, a lot of it is what she hears rather than sees, with the end result being the best bit.
What did they think was the main factor involved when winning a campaign? 'A lot say it's a popularity contest and that students are influenced not by their manifesto points but how they're dressed, what their theme is, what they are giving away and what hall they come from' says Jane, however with regards to Rag she commented that everybody who wants to run for it has always had years of involvement and brings something different to it. Alison stated 'I like to think it's from what people know and their campaigns and particularly with something like media I hope it's that people know that the person is best for the job. The end result is you've spoken to the right people and they are interested enough in you that they vote for you.' She went on to say you can usually get a feeling of who is going to win, but the elections that are impossible to call are always the most exciting, with this mentioning Ben Croucher's battle to be Head of Media in 2010 and that he went 'berserk' when he found out he'd won.
As the people who work directly with the elected officer's it's interesting to know their thoughts. Jane also admitted that between them, once the elections special of Label comes out, the staff all have a little poll of who they think is going to win, and with nominations closing this Friday it won't be long until we can all start making similar predictions.
To recap on the campaigns from last year, click here.