I warn you: here follows a rant about elections. I want you to read it, so I’ve put in pretty pictures of a recent excursion to Wiltshire (and some teasers for Paris) to keep you going to the end. (I feel it is also my duty to warn you that I don’t know where my glasses are, and that I’ve had to take some medication that has made my head go a little woozy, so if this makes less sense than usual, there might be some excuse for it, aha.)
This week is election week. Yes, I’m campaigning. No, I’m not going to tell you who I’m campaigning for (because that would be against the rules, yup yup). So, if I’m not going to shamelessly promote one of the candidates, why bother mentioning it at all?
Well, there are a number of good reasons. For one thing, we are already on Day 2 of voting. Thanks to an incredibly exciting statistics system that the good people at the Union have set up, we can follow voting demographics by department and also halls of residence (for the Freshers among us). Check it out. I’m addicted. Materials have been right up there with 25% of us having voted – at the moment we are beaten by the Department of Life Sciences at 27%, which upsets me greatly. 12.6% of students at Imperial have voted – a measley 4% of these are Postgrads. Imperial students love competition – can you get your department to beat mine?
Petty competitions aside, what are these elections actually for? We are voting for who will be the student leaders of our union next year. I’ve asked several of my friends in fourth year if they have voted yet. An almost overwhelming response has been “what’s the point? I’m not here next year, and I don’t know how they have affected me in the time I’ve spent at Imperial, so I won’t bother”. I’ll admit to being a bit involved (they call it Union Hackery). Why not? It’s my union! They sell Coke for £1 a pint, and that is almost a reason to love it all by itself. So excuse me if I don’t understand this.
Imperial College is an institution, not just a University. They do Serious Research. Important Things happen there. The Union is intended to be the place where we can be typical students – have a drink, have a laugh, do some activities, have a ‘home away from home’. We have a number of Sabbatical Officers who make this happen.
First off, the President. The Big Boss. The examples the Union uses are from fixing a broken vending machine to organising a multi-million project such as the refurbishment as the Union. How many of you have used the vending machines in college? I’m gonna guess every single one of you. In fact, some of the people who I have spoken to who are saying the Union doesn’t affect them go to vending machines at least once a week, if not once a day. And as for the refurbishment of the Union, well it goes without saying that this is important, and our views go through the voice of the students – the president. If you don’t like the Union, chances are you weren’t vocal enough.
Next, DPCS. (Deputy President of) Clubs and Societies. Ever been to a club event? Been to a club? Done anything for a club at Imperial? Yes, the DPCS has a direct say in this. They say which clubs are allowed to run, how they’re allowed to run, where they’re allowed to go, what they’re allowed to do. Mega important if you have anything to do with anything social at Imperial at all, starting with Fresher’s Fair and continuing throughout the year.
Onto DPE (Education). Ever had a complaint about your course? Ever had an issue and weren’t sure who to go to? Chances are the DPE is the one for you. Without feedback, things won’t get better - the DPE makes this happen.
Now we go to money. The big one, right? The DPFS (Finance and Services) has a finger in just about every pie at the Union, from club budgeting to the price of a beer. They have a major hand in organising the Summer Ball too, from which acts appear to which rides you play on. Never been to a Summer Ball? I have, and I loved it and don’t understand why you wouldn’t go if you had the chance.
I could talk about this next one, DPW (Welfare) for a while, but again due to the rules, I’m not allowed to. Suffice to say any matter of equality – whether it is racism, sexism, accommodation, volunteering, or anything to do with home at Imperial, the DPW has a hand in it. Big things have happened, and will continue to happen in this role, and this is the big one in terms of student satisfaction. Wonder why student satisfaction figures come out low for Imperial? Maybe it’s because not enough people paid enough attention to their Union elections!
Fridays. A big day for me. At 11 am I skip along to the Felix stand in my department and get my weekly Hangman and Television fix. Who edits this? The Editor, of course. Massive role. Never been affected by the Union? If you read the Felix, you have.
And finally, we move on to Student Trustees. These guys are the student voices on the committee of people who decide important things for the Union. The recent refurbishment has had massive student involvement – and that’s where they come in. There are, of course, other examples, but I think I’ve gone on for long enough by now.
I’ve taken most of this info straight from the Union website (here), and if you really care, go have a read. It is still making my blood boil that people think this isn’t important. I mentioned above “if you don’t like the Union, chances are you weren’t vocal enough”. I know what you’re going to say. “I wasn’t here when they were deciding on the Union refurbishment, so I couldn’t be vocal back then.” OK, that’s fair enough. However, if you then turn around and say “I’m not going to vote because I won’t be here next year,” I will see red, and you’d better run.
Can you tell that this is frustrating me? It’s a massive deal. If people only voted for things which affected them at that instant, we wouldn’t live in the society we live in today. Here at Imperial, we do science, right? If we only did science for ourselves, we wouldn’t be at the point we are at today. I’ll use knees as my example, as I did a lot of work on this last year. The first prosthetic knee to be used was useless by today’s standards. But, did the doctors back then look at it and go “it’s not as perfect as the knee is at the moment, and it won’t be in our lifetimes – let’s not bother, I’d rather have a cup of coffee and think about things which are more relevant to my life”? No. They did something about it, and the result is that today, hundreds of thousands of people can go from being totally disabled to being able to run a couple of weeks after an operation.
I’m nearing the end now, honest. I know I’m probably talking to a brick wall. If you can’t be bothered to vote in the first place, why would a rant from me make any difference at all? Well, I’ve tried to make it easy for you. I’ve told you what all the positions offer. I’ll give you the link you can go to to vote (RIGHT HERE). It’s up to you to read manifestos, check out websites and decide who you want to vote for. Just don’t, for God’s sake PLEASE, sit back and say “it doesn’t affect me”. Because it does.