As LSU starts to think about the upcoming Exec Elections, Label have decided to discuss whether we should be restricting our application process. The possible restriction that we are considering is based on whether or not candidates, particularly those running for the previously named “heads of sections”, should have to have had experience in their respective sections, with a particular consideration of the VP: College role.
Let’s restrict the possibility of having inexperienced candidates: Katie Wilson
With the possibility for anyone who is a student at Loughborough University or College to run for Exec, there are many reasons to apply some boundaries to the application process. Take the idea of having a President of the union who has had no involvement in LSU activities throughout their time as a student… Although this is unlikely, there is still a chance for this to happen. If a candidate ran a very strong campaign with an interesting theme and powerful campaign team, as long as lots of the students across campus were aware of this candidate, they could quite easily be persuaded to vote for them, despite the candidate potentially failing to display extensive knowledge and ideas within things such as their manifesto and in bubble debates. Limiting applications in this sense to students who have actively taken an interest through number of hours volunteered, their committee positions or higher, would mean that their knowledge of the union or especially of a specific section would be much greater, and hence they would be more likely to prove to be a stronger candidate in the long term.
When I was a Fresher, I don’t believe I was fully aware of what was going on during Exec Elections. I knew that we were voting for people to represent us in the students’ union, but at that stage in my university experience, these sabbatical officers were essentially untouchable celestial figures whose roles were a bit unclear to me. I’d like to add that this has definitely changed and the more you get involved, the more you understand. But that’s part of the issue. Disengaged students are not likely to know who to vote for, and may just plump for whoever handed out the best sweets and had the best costume throughout campaigning. (For your information, if you’re reading this and have no clue what I’m talking about, click here to have a look at an article from last years election to add a little bit of perspective).
Let’s consider a more specific example; there are talks at the moment over whether or not the role of VP: College should be open to all students or just those enrolled at the college. The role is only in its second year and therefore still being established as a sabbatical position. Understandably, for a role in its infancy, changes are virtually inevitable in order to make the post as effective as possible. Even the idea of restricting the candidates who can run, or indeed those who can vote for this position in particular suggests that there are concerns amongst some people as to whether a university student should be able to run to be a representative of the college. Discussions include whether to restrict who can run in the first place or alternatively who can vote for this role when candidates are presented. Current VP: College, Ellis Jarvis, was a College student herself, as was our previous (and first ever) VP: College, Gayathri Seneviratne. In the long term, I believe that it is fair to consider that students who are from Loughborough College are more likely to be able to engage with the students who they seek to represent, as they understand students, the courses and the kinds of activities that people would be interested in- and arguably more so than a university student with less knowledge of the college. In the 2015 by- election, 3 out of the 4 candidates were college students, suggesting that there is enough interest from the college in order to fill the post.
Overall, I’m sure you can see how this concept could be mapped on to other sections in order to ensure that a section is managed by someone who knows how it operates and exactly what its aims are. Although it is unusual for anyone outside of sections to run anyway, this way would secure that. Although this may appear to segregate, I am not suggesting that I would be against volunteers of a section running, even a small amount of knowledge is better than none. Measuring this to create rules on the application process and to alter the constitution would by no means be a quick turnaround and even if considered in union affairs this year (as is being discussed for the VP College role), would be unlikely to be in place by February’s Exec Elections 2016.
We shouldn’t restrict opportunities: Leanna Kightley
Why should we stop people who are passionate about making our Union bigger and better stop running for Exec? I believe that if people have ideas, and they are passionate enough to dedicate time and effort towards campaigning for an Exec position, they should be in with a strong chance of doing so, and winning the campaign. Candidates have to write a manifesto, and make this public on social media, through videos and in their campaigns, as well as being grilled about it by a sometimes scrupulous panel during the Bubble Debates; if someone really had no idea what they were talking about, their bubble would be burst rather early on in their campaign. Examples of this include controversial candidates who have run in the past and not been voted in. Why? Because perhaps their campaign, and the idea of being a BNOC, was more important to them than actually winning the position. Without wanting to drag their names through the mud, these unnamed candidates did not make it to office, so clearly the Exec Election process as we have it works quite well in rooting out all those who don’t deserve the position.
Although it is true that first years may not fully understand the process, they shouldn’t be undermined either. If a campaigner is taking the time to show his or her face in as many halls, clubs, dining rooms and off-campus locations, and has thought long and hard about their costume, freebies and how to approach the all important student voting demographic, then why should we not trust a Fresher’s judgement in picking these for the role? Clearly those that win are in touch with what students want, and this should not be underestimated, bearing in mind the roles on offer aim to get the best for, and out of, the student community.
With regard to the President position, and to an extent the VP College role, these are not strictly speaking involved in a ‘section’, and therefore, can you judge them harshly for having only dipped their toes into one of the many sections of the Union, if any at all? As was mentioned in the previous argument, it is highly unlikely that someone who has not engaged with the Union in some way at every stage in their university career is likely to run for such a vital role, but why should we restrict such candidates? There are students around the University who, for a variety of reasons, don’t get involved in Media, Action, Rag and the other Union sections, so perhaps the best person to find and recruit these students is someone who has shared that experience of feeling alienated, excluded or nervous about getting involved in our LSU.
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