Banners are draped clumsily across campus; candidates rather desperately bombard social media, halls and lectures with the promises of greatness. Even Norwood House is decorated with a comically large poster, all in the effort to never let us forget: the Students’ Union elections are in motion.
Recent turnout suggests that, as a whole, the student body is disinterested in this annual democratic carnival, as candidates vie for the highest elected positions in the Students’ Union. Last year, just fewer than 30% of students voted in the elections. That’s pretty high participation for Bath, but still lacklustre in comparison to other universities.
To a certain extent, it is understandable why students are disillusioned or distant from the event. Common assumptions are made that Student Officers can’t make a difference or don’t impact your day-to-day lives at University. This might seem true, but it doesn’t have to be.
Everything you do at University can be affected by these five people. If you play sport recreationally, the difference between one Sports Officer candidate and the next could decipher to what extent pitch allocation is prioritised for you. One Education Officer candidate might fight harder than the other to ensure changes to the academic year don’t go forward.
The cost of a pint in the Plug, extent to which the arts are publicised, efforts to tackle ‘Lad Culture’, and support given to international students are all issues which could be affected by your vote.
These issues, however, will only matter if you – as the student body – raise them. If you talk to candidates, you can find out how and what they will do to make your life at University better. You have to be selfish and quiz them specifically on what you want.
At bathimpact, we have lobbied all candidates to ensure our society is protected. If they go against what they have pledged, we can hold them accountable. The same goes for your society, your sports team, your education and your support system. Find out what the candidates will do for you. If you don’t, they owe you nothing.
The University of Bath is in a period of transition and having a strong, accountable representative for students is the only way our opinions will be protected. Those chosen to represent us next year must be able to stand up to those changes when the impact us, and having a higher percentage of students supporting them will only make their voices louder.
Comprehending what these candidates can do for you is vital, but voting is personal. You might believe that these elections are irrelevant, but they could be for you if you let them.
We therefore encourage every student to spend fifteen minutes of their time to explore the options available, find out what they can do for you and make it matter.
You can read all the candidates manifestos here and vote in the 2015 Students’ Union Officer elections on Bath Student. Candidates can be contacted on Facebook or in person. Voting closes at 10.00pm on Thursday.