Student Forum, where a group of key individuals meeting to discuss key issues surrounding the running of the union and particular sections, headed up by VP Union Affairs, Max Crawford, is currently holding an election. There are five places available for any student within Loughborough to attend the five remaining forums this academic year. So, why is it then, that there are only four people running?
What happens at Forum?
Having attended the last Student Forum a few weeks ago myself, as a voting member representing media (for one time only, I hasten to add), I have experienced what goes on there. Representatives from halls, sections of the union, programme presidents and a couple of town representatives for students are all there, ready to discuss anything that they deem appropriate, from drinking issues to transport for small sports teams, right to holding the Exec accountable.
Every member of the Exec is there with a giant poster with their face on, ready to discuss what they have and haven’t been doing since the last time everyone was gathered into Fusion for Forum. To go, you essentially need to be in a position of responsibility- fair enough, people rely on you already to carry out a committee role and you probably have a voice big enough to share your own concerns and those of others. Maybe this is why Forum isn’t attracting the masses- are people intimidated?
In the past, anyone has been able to attend Student Forum and air their opinions on matters that concern them. I understand that the issue is that too many people attending could actually be unproductive. Having spoken to Max Crawford about this at the previous Forum, ten non- voting students will be able to attend, moving away from the previous system of anyone being able to attend, and only a certain number of voting members being able to actually vote (such as the people who we are electing now).
In response to this article, VP Union Affairs, Max Crawford gave the following statement to Label:
In the consitution it currently says that there are at least 10 open spaces at the discretion of the forum facilitator (me). I think that the possibility of limiting it to 10 could work provided that the voting members are fulfilling their roles and reaching out to the students they represent so that students can still take part in forum even though they’re not there. However, that decision really does depend on how well forum functions. At the moment, I want as many people coming down to forum to give their views and won’t be changing that anytime soon. Also – the results of the proposals that students put forward to the exec will be coming out before the next forum.
My personal issue with an election:
Here comes my problem. I quite fancied going along to Forum twice a term with questions in mind to ask the Exec and in turn bring any big news or views forward not only in Forum, but probably into the wider Loughborough bubble and share issues critically (both negatively and positively where deemed appropriate, I do like to give credit where it’s due), through Label. As media, we have already given ourselves bigger voices than much of the student population. If someone is keen, they’re welcome to share their views on an issue through an article, a radio chat show or on TV.
However, I personally won’t be sharing my ideas in Forum as I won’t be representing media or the wider student population, because, well I didn’t run. I wasn’t keen on being rejected from attending as could well have happened, and feel that I cannot necessarily express everything that I could actually bring to and gain from this role through a 250 word manifesto. Perhaps this was the issue that some other people had too? In the busy lives that we lead, putting together a manifesto and then bigging yourself up across social media takes effort and probably annoys people, especially when it comes at a time when we are subjected to many campaign posters and videos for students in halls running for their respective committees. The range of biscuits in media as a result is welcomed, however.
How will they fill that extra position?
Well, assuming that the four who are running are elected on to represent us all, there is one remaining position. Maybe it will reopen? Maybe it could go to interview? Max clarified that:
“as it’s a causal vacancy, the unelected voting member of Forum will be elected in forum”.
In my opinion, interviews may have been a good way around this and could have attracted more people. I see the benefits of giving the whole of the student population the opportunity to vote in an election, as these people are representing the students through their voice in Forum. One last comment, the manifestos really lack something for me- how exactly do these candidates plan on communicating with people in order to get opinions from the wider student population, instead of simply pushing their own agendas?