Tuesday, 26 February 2008

HUU Elections - voting day 1

It's that time of the year again where you see all the colours in the rainbow, plenty of catchy/cheesy slogans and people in costumes - yes, it's the week 5 elections in Hull University Union. What will happen? Will the changes make a difference to the voter turnout? Will there be rule-breaking and arguments? Will there be more student apathy? I guess we'll find out for sure after the count, which happens on the evening of the 28th.

So, what are the 'changes' that I mentioned? Well, for the first time there is a fully-functioning e-voting system in place on the student union's website and that is the replacement for the old paper-based system used in previous years. There was an e-voting system when I was a sabbatical officer at HUU, but it wasn't reliable enough - especially for something this important. The website changed at the beginning of the 2007/2008 academic year and it's much better (go to this Wayback machine page to see what the site used to look like). There's also 'assisted polling' in various locations, so people can have help with the new system if they need it. E-voting is definitely a good thing because it means students don't have to travel all the way to their campus to vote.

Another major change is that the elections that have previously happened in week 7, now happen in this period. I can see the benefit in this, because it means that the election period doesn't go on for too long, which could annoy some students. HUU doesn't normally see publicity for the (what used to be) week 7 elections, but the possiblity for that was always there. After looking at some of the posters that are around the union, I can see that the possibility has become a reality.

Candidates are now allowed an internet presence. In my year (and the years before that), you weren't allowed to have a website because it was felt that with varying levels of IT skills, some candidates could gain an unfair advantage. I don't agree with this because it's really easy for anyone to get something up on the 'net. It seems the current executive had the same view. There do seem to be some restrictions though. For instance, if you have a Facebook group setup, you cannot accept membership requests.

So, what positions are up for grabs?

Full-time UEC member (one year term, cannot go for re-election)
  • President
  • Union Secretary & Treasurer
  • Vice-President (Academic Representation)
  • Vice-President (Welfare & Equality)
  • Vice-President (Sport & Leisure)/Athletic Union President
  • Vice-President (Media & Volunteering)
  • Vice-President (Scarborough Campus)
Part-time UEC member (one year term, option to get elected as a full-time officer in a future year)
  • Chair Campaigns
  • Chair HUSSO
  • Chair ISA
Other positions (one year, voluntary, can be re-elected)
  • Union Councillor (16 positions)
  • NUS Conference Delegates (9 positions + current President as delegation leader)
  • Finance Committee (8 positions)
  • Scarborough Executive Committee (7 positions)
  • Societies Officer
  • Training Officer
  • Chair RAG
  • Chair Postgraduate Committee
  • Women's Officer
  • Men's Officer
  • Cultural Diversity Officer
  • Health Officer
  • Disabled Students Officer
  • Chair LGBT Committee
  • Chair Mature Students Committee
  • Environmental Issues Officer
  • Scarborough Finance Committee
  • Senate Reps
  • Delegates for the conferences of various NUS campaigns
So, there are definitely plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in the running of their union. You can see the nomination formas of the people who have gone for the positions listed above by clicking here. You can find out about some of the jobs that are available here

What about the famed 'student apathy'™, the great democracy killer? Well, it's true that most student unions have low voter turnout and the occasional uncontested election. The days of 24/7 protests are long gone. However, unions still do a lot. Who gets the food and drink in the union shop that students go to frequently? Well, it's the union dealing with groups like NUSSL. More importantly, they stand up for your rights in the areas of academia (remember, you went to university to get a degree and you want to have a fair chance) and welfare (e.g. dealing with the perennial problem of troublesome landlords™). They give you a wide variety of entertainments and the opportunities to indulge in a personal interest.

How is that kept at a high standard? Well, you need to ensure that you vote. I would like to see a bigger voter turnout compared to previous years (around 10-12% recently).If everyone votes then it's likely you'll get the best team for the job. If that doesn't happen the executive could be dominated by e.g. an unrepresentative faction that has their own agenda, instead of listening to the students that are members of their union.

If you're wondering who I think the best candidates are, then I'm afraid I can't tell you because I don't want to be giving anyone an unfair advantage. I'm also university staff, so it could be seen as a conflict of interest. What I will say is that there seems to be plenty of good candidates who have experience and policies.

Another thing that I have noticed is that there's a big difference in the actual campaign presence. Today I hardly saw anyone outside the union handing out flyers and talking to students. There were only a few people who were inside the union. This is possibly the effect of online voting. I still think that there should be a strong physical presence though - it gets you noticed and people are more likely to go to the computers and vote for you.

There will be more news tomorrow. If you are a student at Hull uni, please vote. If not, I hope you have found this post about HUU elections interesting.

Technorati tags: Student Unions, Election, Politics, Students


Anonymous said...

Rest assured, the Scarborough president campaigners were out in force on the Monday, along with the Scarborough representatives for other positions.

Anonymous said...

speaking as an anonymous student, i think David makes some valid points, as a man who has the largest majority in HUU history!!!

however, what david fails to recognise is that any increase in turnout will be down to the dedication of the highly attractive sabbatical officers. is it not the case, that between them they have the looks and the courage to get people to the polls???

Anonymous said...

I must say that I do recognise the blogging style of the anonymous student as being none other than a member of our extremely attractive and talented executive!