By Kylie Noble
Elections are the holy grail of student journalism and leading the election coverage is hard earned. By the time you get to lead coverage of the most important fixture in the SU calendar, you’ve spent several years caring far too much about the democratic (or more often undemocratic) workings of the Students Union. To most people, the SU is a place to get loaded on a Monday night and to buy cheap but fairly unpleasant sandwiches. To a newspaper editor, it’s the place you probably spend significantly more hours in than your student house and the McClay combined.
This is the third SU election I’ve covered in some extent (how long ago the days of creeping around Elms for several hours in the dark looking for candidates cheating seem), and I feel an odd mixture of weariness and hopefulness for the whole business. Several people have asked me this year if I would not consider running and there were times in the past that I have pondered it. I very nearly ran for Student Council last year.
Yet the honest truth is I’ve cared and written about the SU a heck of a lot, for nearly three years and I feel I’ve given all I can give. I am starting to look forward to not having to spend frequent week nights live tweeting the intricacies of SU Council. There are many great activists and much passion within SU circles but there’s also pettiness and egoism. Whether candidates win or lose, it needs to be remembered that the SU is not everything, it is not the be all and end all. God knows I’m guilty of thinking the same of this paper. The SU is one small microcosm of democracy and there is a bigger, badder world beyond.
In my time here I’ve seen two years of lacklustre Law/GAA student officer teams and with the election of the independent Gallagher to President last spring, the fracturing of that system. Tickets may still exist this year but they are severely weakened and we are seeing several activists running. Candidate question time was a refreshing occurrence this year with all candidates’ actually seeming quite on the ball and giving decent answers, which admittedly makes it a little less fun, without the mess ups.
It appears that our SU could truly be on the cusp of taking a much more activist and engaged direction and if so, despite my weariness, parts of me are sad that I won’t be here next year to see it all unfold. No doubt I will miss the SU bubble in many ways. I graduate in July and my time is up.
So if you will be at QUBSU next year, get involved in some way. Be that standing for Council, through clubs & societies or writing for a certain newspaper because my best memories and everything truly worth learning, I’ve learnt within the SU or from the friends and activists I’ve met through it. At the very least use your vote in these elections. I hope this issue provides an informative aid in doing so.