It’s that time of year again, students’ union election season and the drama of student politics is in the spotlight. Now is when many students disengage, they ignore the Facebook event invites, scroll past the reams of Facebook posts, and roll their eyes at the friends who have changed their profile pictures. But it shouldn’t be this way. We shouldn’t just vote when we know a friend who is running or when someone pesters us until we do it. Democracy is the lifeblood of a students’ union and the best way to ensure that your voice is heard.
When you vote in a students’ union election you aren’t just voting for the latest careerist hack, the majority of the time you are voting for people who genuinely and wholeheartedly want to make your time in higher education the best it can possibly be. You might not always agree with the policies or the methods of each candidate, but at the heart of it, it’s undeniable that those that stand do so in order to make positive change.
The CUSU Michaelmas Elections often fall by the wayside in terms of engagement. Voter turnout is low, and it’s hard for elected candidates to argue they have a mandate for decisions they make once elected. As such, it’s incredibly important that you vote in the Michaelmas Elections. It is one of the best opportunities in the year for you to shape the work that CUSU does. Part-Time Executive and NUS Delegates have a vital role to play in Cambridge.
There’s so much that I’d like to accomplish but it’s hard to fit it all into my work hours, even with the additional late nights or weekends. I care greatly about students, your welfare and your time at Cambridge, but I need support! The Part-Time Executive does just that. When so much of my time is tied up in dealing with bureaucracy, it’s crucial that Sabbs have student teams around them to help ensure we achieve the bigger projects we set out in our manifestos. But more than that, Part-Time Executives come in with a whole load of fresh ideas on how best to support you which are of massive benefit to the union. In voting in these elections not only do you give legitimacy to the work the Part-Time Executive does but you also shape CUSU policy as they are elected on specific mandates. Part-Time Executive matter in making sure the changes you want to see in Cambridge are achieved. In short, you vote to make CUSU relevant to you.
The other role you are able to vote on is NUS Delegate. In voting for your NUS Delegate you have the opportunity to shape national higher education policy. Your NUS delegates matter because they are the people who elect the national committee who in turn determine the big campaigns they work on. At the moment NUS prioritises working on Brexit, mental health, and Votes at 16 because these are issues they are directed to tackle by NUS delegates. However, there are many, many issues facing students at the moment across the country which need to be addressed. As they don’t have unlimited resources, NUS must select which issues it will prioritise. So whether you think tuition fees or mental health or lack of student voice are the most significant issues for students, it’s important you vote for NUS delegates who care about the same issues as you in order to get those topics on the national agenda. Individually our power to change government policy is limited, but collectively we have infinitely more power. In voting for your NUS Delegate, you add your voice to that collective.
In a democracy, one of the easiest ways to engage and make change is by voting. So If you care about your fellow students, about improving Cambridge or the UK then get out and vote. It won’t take long, and I promise you won’t regret it.