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The Hunger Games – SU Officer Elections Week*

After four years at the University of Bath, I don’t believe there has ever been an SU Officer Elections Week as wild as that of the 2022/23 academic year. Now known fondly amongst Media as ‘The Hunger Games’, the twists and turns of the election week gone by had to be seen to be believed.

Let’s set the scene.

It’s the beginning of elections, there are 22 candidates standing for office. 7 are gunning for the role of President alone. It’s going to be a tough week.

Amongst the tributes from each district, we have a real variety of candidates. From current SU Officers re-running for election, Sports BNOCs with an army of fans behind them, second and final years hoping to secure employment for the following year (sorry not sorry), and politics students armed with policies that would make Lenin’s teeth chatter.

Of course, we can’t forget the people running the show, the Capitol, sorry, the Democratic Procedures Team***. In a similar vein to the actual Capitol in The Hunger Games, our leaders did surprise tributes with rules this year that added twists and turns to the game that no one could have foreseen.

I’ll be taking on the role of Haymitch Abernathy in this extended Hunger Games metaphor. I’m old, tired, I’ve seen more election rounds than I care to remember, and I probably wouldn’t get through the period if it weren’t for alcohol. Usually, I’ve been on the outside of elections season, watching all the chaos unfold from my lovely committee position on BathTime. But not this year…this year Blake Walker’s campaign team recruited me.

It has to be said, watching the inner workings of the SU elections is FAR more entertaining/stressful/concerning/anger-inducing than tapping away on a silly little laptop about whose policies are going to be completely unrealistic, like I have done every other year.

This retelling of SU elections week is all from my perspective and generally focuses on the SU President candidates, as I had the most interaction with them.

Friday – 3:55 pm

All candidates and their teams have mass emails ready to send to every society on campus asking them to endorse their campaigns. Unlike normal years of elections, our Capitol changed the tides in this election season by granting societies the ability to support SU Officer candidates publicly. Why? No one really knows. But what I do know is the dreadful sound of hearing students crying when the ‘Jazz and Astrology appreciation’ society turned down their endorsement pleas.

Candidates were scrambling all over the place to find support from student groups. Abbie claimed Rugby, Jimena was victorious with Latin American Society and Blake won over BULU. But it remained to be seen whether any of these endorsements would actually help candidates win (spoiler: they didn’t, but they did cause everyone a lot of stress).

Social media pages began popping up all over the place, with all the candidates using bright, bold, colours on their posts to show everyone that they were different from all the other candidates who used bright and bold colours on their posts.

It was evident by the sheer number of candidates using blue and yellow for their campaigns that what had started off as friendly competition was now…..war.

Monday

Monday was a sleepy start to the day. Most candidates were inside The Edge being repeatedly questioned by Peter Irvine on their stance towards free speech, and first bus, two out of three ‘F’ words that students at Bath indulge in.

Unopposed Community Officer candidate Hanna was first up in Questions to Candidates…

I want to dedicate this part of the story to Hanna, who I believe is the Rue Barnette of our Hunger Games. Friendly, intelligent and kind, everyone was rue-ting for her to win (”hahahaha”, I hear you say). Hanna’s answers were fantastic and she got across her passion for the SU to everyone in the audience.

Next came the Presidential candidates. All I can say is, seven’s a crowd.

Dan (who I think is similar to Finnick Odair) was in his ‘Not Like Other Candidates’ era, claiming that he couldn’t really persuade anyone to vote for him because it’s a popularity contest, but also promising a crowd-pleasing policy of #MakeHappyHourGreatAgain – works for me, Dan.

Esther (with the strong and bold personality of Johanna Mason) said she was going to scream if she heard one more candidate use the word transparency – fair point, I get where she’s coming from with that one.

And Ronaldo started a lengthy debate with Jimena about whether including more than one international student in a first-year flat is inclusive or exclusive (legend has it he’s still arguing his case).

Tuesday

Candidates flocked to the parade on Tuesday to campaign for the votes of their fellow students.

David got loud and proud by putting one of his campaign team in a shark costume (God’s strongest soldier), while Hanna and Esther were winning over candidates with sweets and baked goods.

Jodie did a flash mob with her campaign team that drowned out the URB music for a solid 5 minutes (cheers Jodie! My eardrums still haven’t recovered from the low-fi/jazz/house/club music that our radio friends blared out for over an hour).

Abbie and Jimena literally sat on the parade all day speaking to people. I still don’t know how they managed it to be honest. And Blake’s campaign team got loud and lary, shouting ‘For Fuck’s Sake, Vote For Blake’ at students passing.

We even had a visit from the Professional Fresher himself, Mr George Cooper. A young man who was winning votes for Zisis’ Education Officer campaign by flirting with girls – old habits die hard, I suppose.

Wednesday

On Wednesday all campaign teams were metaphorically slapped in the face by presidential hopeful, Will. Will’s Hugh Grant-inspired TikTok had amassed nearly 1 million views and he now had endorsements from EA Sports, Heinz Beans, and some rogue vodka company. The dark horse in the race had perfected his social media presence, while the merry tribe of presidential candidates realised they were going to have to up their game by 1,000.

Aside from that, Wednesday was the day that most people (me) and their campaign teams (me) began to feel the effects of the elections week grind. I even heard that one of the SU candidates asked URB where the SU was….exhaustion had evidently set in for all involved.

Thursday

Thursday, Thursday, what can I even say about Thursday? To be frank, it felt like the final hours of The Hunger Games. Most candidates had died (stopped campaigning) due to fatigue, but those who were left were surprise attacked by the Capitol. Blake, Jimena and Ronaldo were all banned from campaigning for an hour for forgetting to send an email (yes, an email). As such, despite the poisonous rivalry that had taken place over the week, pretty much all the candidates just went to the SU for a pint and admitted defeat.

One hour and multiple pints later, a few of the brave warriors waddled out to the parade to chant their final chants and throw their last few sweets at students, and then, it was all over…..

Friday

It is with great delight I can announce that, unlike the traditional Hunger Games, all tributes survived. And, in even greater news, the following candidates have been crowned your victors for the next year on the Students’ Union at the University of Bath.

  • SU President – Jimena Alamo
  • SU Community Officer – Hanna Hajzer
  • SU Activities Officer – David Lam
  • SU Education Officer – Amber Snary
  • SU Postgraduate Officer – Jura Neverauskaite
  • SU Sport Officer – Abbie Watkin

Congratulations to all the candidates for your wonderful hard work over the week, it was an absolute pleasure to see your passion and enthusiasm for our student community. It was an equally great pleasure to drink so much in the SU on Friday that I was repeatedly asked to “get off the table and stop singing”.

That’s elections week wrapped up in one Hunger Games-style special!

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