It is that time again… SU officer election time! This means that I am left asking myself the same questions I always seem to have during this week; What on earth is an SU officer? Should I vote? What is all the fuss about?
To put it simply, I am now in my fifth year of university (placement and Masters in case you are wondering) and I still have no idea what the SU officers actually do, and I don’t believe that I am a rare case in this matter. To my knowledge, they are supposed to represent and be a voice for all students. So, is this the case? Let’s take a quick deep dive into a case study I like to call, ‘The Phantom Strike Referendum’.
In November 2022 it was announced the UCU wanted lecturer strikes (shock!). The SU, with their mind-reading abilities, decided they knew exactly what all the students felt about this, declaring the SU in favour of the strikes without a referendum. At the time the SU was criticised for not representing the voices of all students, and it felt like this was an assumption made due to the previous years’ referendum results in which students agreed with the UCU strikes.
Now, I am not trying to make this article about strikes, rather to simply prove a point. We now know for a fact that this was an incorrect assumption. A recent referendum was held about the strikes announced in January 2023 and the results (which in fairness were marginal) came out to show that students were in fact not in favour of UCU strikes. So, the SU has very recently shown that they do not represent the views of the student body.
So, where does this leave us when it comes to SU elections? Am I trying to say that people should not vote in the election? No, and I will tell you why. I have been known in the past to not get involved in the SU officer elections, for the reason that I simply could not see the point in SU officers and felt unrepresented by them. For some reason not voting in the election was my way of protesting against this, hoping the SU could somehow read my mind. This has been proven to not be the case.
In my older age of 23, I now realise that I was being petty and by not voting I was only making the problem bigger. For the SU to represent the students, the students need to play an active role in the SU officer elections; this is what the above case study really shows. When people vote, they are more represented. The SU only knew the opinion of students when they were given the chance to vote and now, with officer elections, students have another chance to do just that. In the fear that I am going to start sounding like a revolutionary or, even worse, a politics student I will go no further.
The good news is that this year students have a whopping 22 candidates to choose from to fill the six SU officer roles. The candidates all have varying ideas on how they can help the students with big issues like the cost-of-living crisis, sustainability, and mental well-being to name just a few. The question of ‘will they be able to enforce these policies’ is perhaps a question for another Bath Time article, but for now my advice is simple. Firstly, engage with the elections by watching their minute manifestos or URB interviews on Spotify (harmless self-plug). Secondly and most importantly, VOTE!